When I was a kid, I envied the kids who had pools.
The Neighbor Girl had one. It was a massive, above ground, turquoise monstrosity in the middle of her back yard. It was the kind with the high sides so you couldn’t see who was inside it.
All summer long in every summer of my childhood as far back as I can remember, I stared at that pool. I never did get to swim in it.
The Neighbor Girl was my age almost exactly. But, she was a popular girl and I wasn’t therefore not only could I not swim in her pool but she couldn’t be seen with me. So we never played together past kindergarten, even though we lived mere feet apart.
This little girl was mean, too. She would see me in my backyard playing on my swing set with my little sister. She would say “Hey, Heidi. I’m going to go swim in my pool now. You probably wish you could come over, but you can’t.” She would have friends over from our class at school and she would lead them in taunting me as they swam behind their aluminum walls.
My dad tried to fill the void for my sister and I without shelling out the money for an ugly pool that required tons of work he didn’t want to do. He found a water toy somewhere called Water Works. It was essentially a Twister mat, but instead of colored circles, it had numbered leaky pipes. You hooked the hose to it and it filled with water. Then, all of the leaky pipe numbers sprayed water while you played Twister on top of them, basically. The problem was, when you played as directed, water sprayed directly into your eyeballs. Little girls don’t like that, so Water Works went back into the shed and stayed there forever while we went back to playing with our Wuzzles sprinkler.
Then, during the spring of 1990, I saw this:
I wanted a Crocodile Mile like I have never yearned for anything before. There’s a plastic crocodile curtain! There’s a bump!! There’s a Splashdown Pool!!! Are you kidding me?!?! Gimme!!!!!
The commercial was on every single time I watched Heathcliff or Duck Tales. It wasn’t on during Reading Rainbow because that was on PBS, but I was still thinking about owning my very own Crocodile Mile during Reading Rainbow.
I *may* have hounded my parents about it. It *may* have gotten obnoxious. BUT, it pays off to be annoying sometimes, because I WON!
I got it for my birthday that May. The moment that it warmed up enough to play outside in the water was going to be the best day of my life!
And it was. My sister and I and raw ginger tore the crap out of our abdomens on that thing. We played on it non-stop for that whole summer until we popped the bump and ripped and deflated the Splashdown Pool. It was so awesome! It never got old to fly down that thing and land partially in the pool and grass stain our faces. Never.
The Neighbor Girl asked to come over and play on my Crocodile Mile. I told her no. Actually, I think what I said was “Na-na, na-na, boo boo! Stick your head in doo doo!” but… I mean, I didn’t write it down in my quote book or anything so I could be wrong. I’m not sure which was better, getting the Crocodile Mile or telling The Neighbor Girl she couldn’t play on it.
Psht! It was totally the Crocodile Mile! That girl didn’t matter enough to ruin that for me. She can bite me. Yeah, still. So what!