Swimming Away a Pandemic Funk

I don’t know about you but this pandemic has really put a dent in my mojo. It’s totally understandable, of course, since our constant companion is a specter of fear that, at least for me, seems to be whispering in my ear a medley of, “Have you washed your hands recently?”  “When was the last time you gave that TV remote a Clorox wipe down?” and “Are you sure that sore throat is just from allergies?”

Then there’s the fact that any outing beyond the boundaries of our homes requires surgical gear. So, for sure, it’s a given that most of us would be feeling more than a tad out of sorts.

 Now add in that a majority of us haven’t worn real clothing in months and that there could be another crisis brewing because I think half of America may have forgotten how a button works.

Currently, I feel like I’m riding shotgun on “Hot Mess Self-Esteem Express” with stops in “Pandemic Pounds,” “Anxiety Avenue” and “Will My Kids Ever Leave My House?”

To be honest recently I felt myself going into a funk. A funk so deep not even the healing properties of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies could shake.

This meant desperate measures were called for. I was going to give myself a kick in the butt. No more stretchy pants 24/7, no more messy buns which is a woman’s way of saying, “I didn’t brush my hair today and I probably won’t tomorrow” and most importantly I was going to have hit the pool.

Now when I say “hitting the pool” I mean swimming laps. The beauty of swimming is that it’s quiet. When your head is submerged the jibber-jabber of the world is silenced. For me it gives my brain a break. I can’t listen to a podcast about how the world is going to end or check my phone for the latest coronavirus clusters.

After a couple of days of swimming laps, I started to feel better. I also had two outings where my pants had a zipper and buttons and I not only brushed my hair but used my volumizing hair dryer. All of this activity was making me a little spunky.

I took that spunkiness to the pool. I upgraded my goggles from a Dollar Store reject circa 2013 and invested in a fancy swim mask made for “triathletes.” Not that I was or will ever be a triathlete but I did enjoy repeatedly asking family members, “Have you seen my triathlete goggles?”

When I was swimming I felt invincible. One day, I was so certain of my prowess I was positive that I was totally lapping the much younger man with mirrored goggles and aquatic webbed gloves swimming in the lane next to me.

I decided to really put some real distance between us and started busting out the flip turns. I tucked my body into a ball, water gushing up my nose causing some sort of chlorine induced brain freeze and propelled myself off the pool wall with a force so intense I feared my swim skirt would fall off.

Funk be gone I thought because I was back – big time. I, who qualified for an AARP membership, was lapping Swim Gloves. The glory was immense and short lived.

When I stopped swimming, I noticed what I thought was Swim Gloves one lap was actually two. Yes, he was swimming two laps to my one.

Whatever. I’m sure it was due to those fancy aquatic gloves because I know, just know, that without those gloves I would have been winning.

Snakes in Pool Noodles – Are You Kidding Me?!!

Summer is fraught with peril. Around every sunshiny corner danger lurks. Nothing is safe – not even something as innocuous and innocent as a rainbow-hued pool noodle.

Yes, a pool noodle is officially an instrument of death thanks to snakes. Recently, poisonous, slithery snakes have decided to make the shady, moist interior of pool noodles their summer vacation abode.

The noodle is also seen as a primo place to start a family for snakes, so there have been multiple reports of snakes laying their eggs in pool noodles.

I’m hyperventilating just thinking about hoisting my girth upon a foam noodle to discover I’ve jostled out a mama snake and her kin. That definitely makes my list of top 10 nightmare scenarios and phobias.

What would you even do? Sure, you can swim away but a snake is the Michael Phelps of the pool. Some can move as fast as 14 miles per hour in the water. I’m certain I wouldn’t be able to out-swim a snake. Plus, I would be wearing a swim skirt so that adds a drag co-efficient that would be slowing me way down.

This whole snake thing upped my pool fear factor and I don’t need any help in that arena. Every summer I have to conquer my abject trepidation of wearing a bathing suit.

You would think that aging would make parading around the pool in a swimsuit easier because you’re old, so who cares that your body resembles a jumbo marshmallow shish kabob that appears to be melting. But, no, now there are 65-year-olds wearing bikinis – not a one piece or even a L.L.Bean tankini – but the real deal “I got this at Victoria Secret” bikini. And they look fabulous.

I have one word – respect – but it still sucks. At what point in my life journey am I allowed to go to the pool and not worry that my thighs appear to be decoupaged in road maps torn from a vintage Rand McNally Atlas purchased at a garage sale?

That’s right, road maps, because the collection of spider veins on my legs look amazingly similar to Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles. Sadly, and yet fascinating: My cellulite appears to resemble the Meteor Crater you can stop and visit in Winslow, Arizona.

Finally, it got hot enough that I had to conquer both of these horrors. I needed to get into the pool. I convinced myself that the whole snakes in the noodle thing were probably a couple of isolated cases.

As for the swimsuit shame that required an impressive “you can do it” pep talk and I invested in a longer swim skirt. (If this keeps up, by next year summer I’ll be swimming in a maxi dress.)

When I bravely breached the entryway to the city pool I told myself to stay strong. I found a deck chair, took off the beach towel that had been acting as my chub shield, grabbed my goggles and jumped in.

Praise be to the water god Atlantis I had made it into the pool. For about 60 seconds all was right with my summer world until I heard a mother yell at her kids to “check their swim noodles for snakes” and then she bellowed that the pool noodles had been left under their deck since last summer and there “could be critters in them.”

I Michael Phelps-ed it to the pool ladder and got out of the water so fast my swim skirt almost went airborne. To date I’m still working on the courage to get back in. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

*You can find me at – snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com, on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs and on Instagram @snarky.in.the.suburbs.


Wanted: Mom Lifeguards

classic_baywatch_lifeguard_cross_shirt_life_guard_sticker-rba32e823d5d84be6ace5a505168d8892_v9waf_8byvr_512The pools are officially open and resplendent with young lifeguards perched in their command post chairs and swinging their whistles. Every year I watch these toned and low BMI individuals and think that this whole lifeguard thing could be vastly improved by the implementation of a “Middle Aged Mom Guard.” Think about it, there’s just so much these teenaged guards don’t know and if you want a pool really safe you’ll need a mom on your employee roster.

Oh please, don’t even try to think for one second a mom couldn’t handle the physical rigors of saving a life. Back in the day, when I was a lifeguard we didn’t have the whole red rescue tube of it all. We jumped in with nothing but our American Red Cross certification badge (sewn to our swimsuit by our mother) to grab a kid or drunk dad from the jaws of death. Plus, there’s hardly a mom out there who hasn’t, with one hand, subdued and buckled a toddler having a tantrum into a car seat all while holding an infant and maybe a Diet Coke with her other hand. All this means we’ve got the mad skills to wrestle and rescue an panicking swimmer who may try to drown us in the process. That’s what the red tube is for by the way. It’s a throw and go so your rescuee doesn’t take you down to the bottom of the pool.

But saving lives would be the least of what a Middle Aged Mom Guard (all while wearing a swimskirt, of course) would bring to the aquatic arena. Her skills would be far reaching.

On Site Dermatologist referral. Trust me, I am not the only mom that has spent hours at the pool or waterpark thinking, “Wow, that person really needs to get that mole checked.” We are experts in the ABCDE of mole screening. You know, asymmetry, border, color, diameter and evolving. I see a Mom Guard as a first responder in the fight against skin cancer. The Middle Aged Mom Guard would also approach teenage girls practicing the solar self abuse ritual known as tanning and hose them down with liquid zinc oxide all while scolding them for being idiots.

Family Therapist: When the misguided dad tries to force his young child to go off the high dive or do the altitude enhanced water slide the Middle Aged Mom Guard would gently intervene. She will explain to the parent that at best he will be giving the kid night terrors or a regression back into a pull up and at worst the kid is going to have trust issues that will manifest in the teen years and result in underage drinking and a prescription drug problem. In other words, it’s just not worth it. Leave the kid alone, relax, and realize that maybe not this summer, but some summer, the kid will jump off the high dive.

Mom Shaming: This is a job no teenager is equipped to handle or has the skill set to recognize the signs. Mom shaming takes a delicate touch to get the desired results. It’s like taming a hungry Grizzly while covered in bacon bits and BBQ sauce. A Middle Aged Mom Guard would approach the mothers who think the phrase “it takes a village” applies to the pool and re-educate them on the realities of swimming safety.

We all know these mothers. The ones that put a pair of floaties on their toddler and then stretch out on a lawn chair or become enraptured with their phone as their kid sets sails for the deep end. Or the ones who drop off six kids at the pool all under the age of 10 and think it’s okay for them to fend for themselves for eight hours because, “Hey, the lifeguard is like a babysitter right?”  The Mom Guard would, corral, lasso, round up (insert livestock term of your choice) these parents and deliver in a gentle but no nonsense tone that they’re stinking it up in the parenting department and need to pull their head out before one of their kids drown.

Swimsuit Police: Who better than a Middle Aged Mom Guard to lead the fight against butt crack? Ever vigilant and not afraid to tell a teenage boy to pull the drawstring on his swim trunks a whole lot tighter this job was made for a mother. If anyone else told a teen, or a non relative that they were showing a little too much cheek in a public setting or that they might want to consider getting their swimsuit top lined or at the very least going up a size it would be creepy but from a mom it just sounds right.

If any local pool is interested in creating this position. Call me. Never let it be said that I wasn’t committed to the greater good of society. I’ll have my swimskirt and SPF 50 at the ready.

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good. Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival. If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.




Overheard at the Pool – Part 2

It’s summertime and the living is easy
Fish are jumping and the cotton is high
Your daddy’s rich and your mama’s good-looking

On rare occasions I have the opportunity to dip my non-pedicured toe into the waters of the wealthy.  Earlier this summer, my children and I swam with sharks, and by that I mean the offspring of hedge-funders and trust-funders.  It was at an ultra fancy pants country club.  The kind of club you see on TV because it’s the site of PGA tournaments.  The pool was old and elegant.  No water slides, no high dive, no water blasting zone just a large pool plopped on a piece of a land with a beautiful vista of more beautiful vistas.  This, of course, means my kids were disappointed.   They like the Chuck E Cheese style of pool with lots of padded plastic to slide down, jump off and climb on.  I, was awestruck.  It looked like a pool right out of The Great Gatsby.

The kids and I actually get escorted to the pool by what I would call a butler, but what the fancy pants set calls a club facilitator.  He tells me that he will check in on me frequently to make sure I have everything I need.  One word – awesome.  Who cares that my kids and I stick out like the Beverly Hillbillies.   I excitedly slap my Dollar Tree flip-flops on the pool side concrete and suck in my stomach in my Calvin Klein, Ross Dress for Less” irregular” swimsuit.  Which makes it a perfect fit for me since my body could kindly be described as irregular.  I’m also, from what I can tell, the only woman at the pool that is not a size zero.  I’m a size zero + 14.  Although, I don’t know if I’m looking at moms or nannies.  My kids, are also in non-designer swimsuits, but I like to think that the Gap is an American classic.  It’s times like these that I’m glad to be a devoted reader of In Style magazine.  Sure, I could read The Economist or the London Financial Times, but hours of reading In Style is now keying me into the moms in $200 Burberry Haymarket Check bikinis, teen girls in True Religion thongs and loads of tanned wrists with just released waterproof Datejust Lady Rolex watches.  I feel like I’m inside a Neiman Marcus catalog and thanks to sunglasses I can gawk all I want!  I also noticed all the designer pool totes.  Really, Prada makes a pool tote?  If only I could get close enough to smell it.   I crave the smell of outrageously priced Italian leather goods.   A very nice saleslady at one of my favorite lookie loo stores always lets me sniff the Prada whenever I go in to visit.  She gets out her keys, unlocks the case with all the Prada bags, their $3,000 and up price tags tickle my nose as I take hit after hit of all that leathery goodness.  Yum.  Now, I’m becoming a little obsessed with sniffing that Prada.  Luckily, the smell of sun tan lotion is overwhelming my olfactory senses so I settle down.

The kids and I get all country club comfy.  My middle class duo jump into the pool and proceed to shock and awe the other young swimmers with their tales of no maids, no nannies, and a lifetime spent in a mini-van.  They even bring a small group of children to my lawn chair to prove that they are indeed at the pool with their “for real” mother, not a nanny, not a second trophy wife stepmother. Let’s be honest here.  There is no way anybody would mistake me for a trophy wife unless I was married to Methuselah and even that would be a stretch.  I also had to verify that my family did indeed fly “commercial not private” to our current destination.  I then had to back up my son’s claim that yes you do have to take your shoes off and walk through a metal detector before you can get on the plane and that Southwest Airlines does not have a first class section and that everybody gets on the plane and rushes to the best seat. Yes, it is kind of like “musical chairs.”

I was greatly amused by this, mainly because my country club facilitator was making sure that I was keeping hydrated with my favorite pool side drink – the mojito.    I didn’t feel the need to be on mom “red alert level 5 drown status.”  This pool probably had a swimmer to lifeguard ratio of 2 to 1.   The great thing is you never heard the guards blow their whistle.  I was pondering that fact while I sucked on my mojito lime.   I figured it was probably because the club was so fancy pants that the whistles were at a higher frequency that only kids and dogs could hear.  I’m not kidding about this.  Last year, I thought I had a brain tumor because it seemed my hearing had gone down hill fast.  I was relived to find out that “my hearing was fine for someone in older middle age.”  The doctor said the first sounds to go – high frequency.   So, it makes sense that not to bother the over 30 pool-side patrons that the lifeguards would have whistles that only annoyed and alerted the younger set.

As I made my way to the cabana, (no snack bar window at this pool) to order some lunch (I was thinking a smoked salmon and watercress salad with a lemon caper vingerette because it sounded elegant and for sure trumped the corn dog or Smuckers Uncrustables offered at my “home” pool.) I saw a group of lifeguards dining at the “employees table.”  I was so certain of my whistle frequency theory that I set out to confirm it.  I walked over and introduced myself as a guest of the club, complimented them on their guarding skills and asked my question about their whistles.  Cue, the polite, yet gut busting laughter.  Um, it seemed I was wrong about the whistles.  Amid their giggle fit, I asked if I could sit down and then began prodding them about their lifeguard code of conduct.   I assured them that I was just a one time visitor to the club, never to be seen again, so they could feel free to tell all.  After gaining their confidence that I wasn’t a tattle tale (I think it was those Dollar Tree flip-flops that really showed them that I was not a club “regular.”)  the story of the country club lifeguard began to be shared.  My first question was what’s up the whistle?   The whistle I find out is all for show (gasp) like set dressing. It hangs around their neck and is also used for twirling between their fingers as they pace the pool. But, that’s all it’s good for. It doesn’t even have that doohickey ball inside that makes the whistle sound.   Why no whistle?  The guards aren’t allowed to single out the “young patrons” about their behavior.  It could cause, according to club rules, “long term ill effects to the young patrons self-esteem.”  As a former lifeguard, I’m mouth hanging open, stunned. “So, how do you stop bad behavior or behavior that could result in someone getting hurt?”  I ask.   That’s a sticky wicket the guards say.  You’re allowed to “quietly and in a congenial manner” address a safety issue with the child’s nanny, guardian or parent.  But, as a guard you can not speak about a safety issue directly with a child.  This, the guards explain is to protect the guard more than the child.  Because in the past children who had been reprimanded complained/cried to their parents/nanny/guardian that the guard was mean and before you could say spoiled rotten, the guard would end up losing their job.  “If a kid is drowning are you allowed to save them or would that end up hurting their self-esteem also”, I joke.  No joke. They can rescue the child from drowning, but it can’t seem like a rescue.  Say what?   Apparently, when they jump in the water with their red life-preserver thingy they should “attempt to make it appear like they are either doing a practice drill or playing with the child.  In no way are they to tell the child they were rescued or needed guard assistance.”   “Oh,” I muttered, the whole self-esteem thing again. But what if they need CPR?  I don’t see how CPR can be disguised as guard practice.”   Fortunately, the club’s guards have never had to have that intense of a rescue with a child.  They have had to go in after drunk adults and do CPR, but one guard pipes up, “since they were drunk they don’t remember much so you don’t have to be that careful about their adult self-esteem. Amazing.  My limited time in this exclusive east coast country club enclave so explains the national financial crisis.

The lifeguards are like the SEC.  The children are the financial institutions.  The guards (SEC) see bad behavior, but can’t hurt anybody’s feelings by telling them their naughty and could cause imminent, serious damage to themselves or others.  So, they tread lightly and give the (children) financial institution’s boss a very polite and obsequious head’s up.  Then, when our economy (children) begin drowning the guards (SEC) don’t have the practice, experience or strength to save them.

I tell the guards to be careful and offer my middle-aged mom advice. “You’ll never forgive yourself if something bad happens on your watch.  Even if you’re going to get fired.  Do the right thing.”  Apparently, that was old advice because they all said I sounded like their mom.  “In that case,” I said, “Your moms must all be amazing.”  I left the lifeguard employee table went over to devour my salmon salad and thought about how hard it is to eat while sucking in your stomach. Almost impossible. Try it.  See you can’t do it.  I guess that’s another reason while I’ll never be able to hang with the rich – the inability to eternally inhale.  Oh well, I always have my city pool with a high dive that I can bust cannonballs off of causing serious, soul scarring embarrassment to my children.  Now, that my friends, makes me truly wealthy.

*I love hearing your thoughts and comments.  You can leave them here or go to Facebook and hit “like” on Snarky in the Suburbs.   Many heartfelt thanks for sharing the Snarky blog with your friends.