Rules of the pool


Resistance was a futile effort. The force of the wave was so great it felt as though we had just been just hit by another crushing tackle from Bubba Hanks.

We tried to turn and swim away, but it was too late; there was nothing anyone could do. My three brothers and I were swept away, crashing into each other before being helplessly tossed around like rag dolls.

Then the unthinkable happened. A second wave hit, and we were thrown up against the sides of Neighbor Thomas’s pool. Bubba Hanks had done the impossible: An outlawed double jump cannonball dive!

Strictly against every pool rule on Flamingo Street, the double jump was considered too dangerous for swimmers and especially the diver. The huge amount of displaced water had the owner of the pool filling it for three days and really, really mad at the double jumper.

Outlawing the double jump wasn’t the only pool rule we had back then; there were many others. Some are even still being used by parents today in backyard pools some 40 years later.

Mr. Thomas’s pool rules included no running, no jumping off the sides, and no pushing. No glass containers around the pool, no wet feet in the house, and the no prune rule. All still in use today.

The no prune rule was simple. When we had been in the water too long, our fingers got wrinkly like prunes and Mr. Thomas made us get out. And just like the kids now, we followed every rule — while the grownups were watching.

Like most things, pool rules were a little different at 110 Flamingo Street. Running around our above-ground pool wasn’t just allowed — it was encouraged. The more running, the less energy we had when we came inside. At least that’s what Dad said.

Other rules were no diving, no cannonballs, and absolutely no double jumps. This was only logical. Who in their right mind would dive into a pool with only four feet of water? That’ll cause brain damage.

Okay, stop laughing. I never did, but probably would have except for one little detail. Dad never bought a diving board.

He did have a couple of rules that, if broken, would guarantee a belt-whooping. Never use your big toe to pull out the tiny bottom plug that drains the pool. Not that I ever did, mind you. (I know my dad reads this column and I don’t think there’s a statute of limitation on pool drain-plug pulling.) And the most important rule: Never squish The Sister up against the flimsy aluminum sides.

Both drain-plug pulling and sister-squishing will cause the entire contents of the pool to empty — one much faster than the other, but take it from me, both will empty a pool.

And afterwards if caught, you’ll be on the receiving end – no pun intended – of one of Dad’s standing-whoopings. What’s a standing whooping, you may ask? Simple, afterwards you’ll not be able to sit down for a week.

This is about how long it took for The Sister to get all the water out of her ears and for Dad to cool off enough to fill the pool so we could cool off.
Finally, the number one rule at Thomas’s pool was the number one rule at 110 Flamingo Street and is still the number one rule at every pool even today: Don’t go number one in the pool.

And for all you Neanderthals out there who enjoy an adult beverage or two poolside, what do you do when you feel the call of nature and think it’s just too far of a trek to get back to the house?

Here’s some important information you should know. Nowadays if you do, the water around you will turn blue. Not that it has ever happened to me, mind you.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for more than two decades and a columnist for The Citizen since 2001. His email is]