The real jerks make a splash

Kevin Cowherd

June 23, 1993|By Kevin Cowherd

There is something about swimming pools and beaches that turns normally decent people into real jerks.

I'm talking about those annoying people who delight in harassing innocent sunbathers by splashing them, pushing them in the water, etc., all in the name of fun.

The first thing to understand is that I consider all pool and ocean water to be freezing unless it's the temperature of bath water.

Therefore, when going in the water, I observe the time-honored ritual of all wimps. First, I stare at the water for several minutes, quietly entering a Zen-like trance designed to psyche me for the ordeal to come.

Then I timidly put one foot in the water. When that foot becomes used to the numbing cold, I put the other foot in.

Then I slowly go in up to my ankles.

Then up to my knees.

After, oh, 20 minutes or so, I'm ready to make that headlong plunge underwater that signifies total commitment.

But some people just won't let you go in the water at your own pace.

These are the blockheads who, despite their chattering teeth and the blue veins bulging through their forehead, insist that you "jump right in!" because "the water's great!"

Or they insist on splashing you ("Ha, ha! WHOOEEEYY!"), oblivious to the fact that your heart has seized up from that first electrifying shock of icy water.

Of course, the more you howl in protest, the more gleeful they become -- not unlike the unhinged child who delights in slowly pulling the wings off a butterfly.

This reminds me of an ugly incident that took place at the TTC community pool of some friends of ours not long ago.

Since the temperature was 95 degrees and the humidity was so bad that flies were dropping off the ceiling, the place was packed.

A crowded pool, of course, tends to raise the jerk quotient considerably.

And, sure enough, this place was crawling with jerks. Most were easily recognizable with their sloped foreheads, vacant eyes and dopey grins, splashing and hooting and hollering like it was 2 a.m. at a fraternity keg party.

In many respects, it was like a Jerk Hall of Fame. I kept waiting for someone like Tom Arnold or Arsenio or Jose Canseco to come up and shake my hand, at which point I would have thought: "Well, yes, it makes perfect sense that he'd be here."

Anyway, after a while in the steamy sun, just about the time my skin began to fuse with the melting plastic of the beach chair, I decided to go in the water.

This involved elbowing a couple of 4-year-olds out of the way and easing in from the shallow end.

Despite the plethora of jerks, everything was going along fine when suddenly -- SPLASH! -- I was hit with a cascade of freezing water.

Then I heard this loud, goofy laugh, which, even though I was slipping into semiconsciousness, sounded like the braying of a donkey.

Looking up, I saw a woman grinning at me.

"WHOOEEEYY!" she yelled. "Bet that felt good, huh!?"

Not wanting to get splashed again, I managed to force a smile, hoping that would throw her off. But the whole time I was thinking: "Sweetie, you're a dead woman."

The woman was only about 5 feet tall and 90 pounds, so I figured I could take her -- at least if I got in the first punch.

That's the whole key to duking it out with a woman: You want to get in that first shot.

Because some of these women, boy, they can really use their fists.

I got hit by a woman once. It was at a mixer in college. The woman had an uppercut like Joe Frazier. God, it almost lifted me off the floor! It turned out she was drunk and trying to slug her boyfriend -- not that that explanation made me feel any better.

Anyway, I was all set to cuff this annoying woman in the pool when I noticed something: There was a guy standing not too far away. And he looked like her husband. And he was pretty big.

So I thought: Yeah, with my luck, I'll snap off a left jab at this woman and the little baby will go tell her husband.

That's the way a lot of these women are. The minute you take a poke at them, they go running to their husbands or boyfriends or whatever. Boy, I hate that.

So instead of saying anything to the woman, I just got away from her pronto. But I noticed as each new person entered the water, this psycho would splash the person and laugh hysterically.

It's amazing how some people get their kicks.

Makes you glad summer only lasts three months.

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