Everybody has a pool in Southern California, or at least access to one.

We have one, as I’ve mentioned before, and there was a time I would have included a shot of splashy me in it. But in truth, you don’t swim in them, you look at them and pour as much money as you do water in them. (And on occasion, a careless gecko from back in the vegetation will drown in ours. They can’t swim a lick; I retrieved one twice last summer as he began to sink to the bottom. The third time — when I wasn’t paying enough attention — he was successful and ended up in the pool sweep.)

Kris considers the whole notion a money pit and just one more item on the endless list of things to worry about in the joy of home ownership. There was a time when she thought she could save  some bucks by eliminating the pool guy and handle the matters of cleaning and chemicals herself. Never again. The fees are here to stay. And so it is with the swimming pool capital of the world. You get a house or apartment with a pool, pay the money, and look at the water.

That’s what I do. That’s what I’m doing now, and I’m not impressed, although for sure, when I was growing up in upstate New York I would have been. One of the kids in my senior class had one, and it was enough just to be aware of it that pretty much blew me away: “You guys actually own one? In your own back yard that you can swim in any time you want?” Never mind that December pool parties were a little rare, simply knowing that it was there was quite enough. Come June they could fill it up and impress the shit out of the neighborhood. An old friend who does fairly well — that’s the assumption: extra bucks that you can blow on a pool — added a pool a few years back and now he sends me pictures of same with three feet of snow in the shallow end. I can relate: We stay out of ours in January, too.

Jacuzzis are a decided no-show as well. Our pool came with one attached and I believe we’ve been in the thing all of twice in the past two years. I don’t know…maybe I’m just dull, but the cliché of turning into a prune while clutching a glass of cheap booze hasn’t reached me yet. If you’ve had the experience, you know that your first introduction to water that’s hot enough singe parts of you that are dearest is anything but pleasant, and then you get short of breath that can, we’re advised, lead to a coronary. You would choose to do stuff like that?

The in-laws from back east do,  and jump right in, assuming, I guess, that’s it’s a major part of the California experience, not to say “scene.” Plays big in the slide shows back home.

So maybe that’s it. The perception made real. Back in the day, and in the same situation, I would have sought and done the same thing, regaling all who would listen of those lucky Californians who lived with palm trees and pools.

And would I eventually fill ours in with a vegetable garden and pave over the jacuzzi? Not hardly, and not because the pool guy needs the work (with a client list of more than 90 pools, he doesn’t). In truth, there’s nothing that quite compares with a warm, bugless California night by the pool — I said, by the pool — with the underwater lights on and a glass of fine wine in hand. And the television off.

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