The answer is – everyone. But only one is burned into my memory like no other.
The resident “Pool God” of Four Winds Apartment Complex wore short-shorts. They were cut-off Levi’s, short enough for the bottoms of his pockets to hang well below the frayed denim that barely covered his ass.
By 1974 standards, this dude was cool. His shoulder-length hair had golden Sun-in highlights that set off a tan he worked on every single day the pool was open during the summer. He strolled in barefoot with a Marlboro red dangling precariously from his lips, naked, but for his Levi short-shorts and a beach towel casually draped over his shoulders.
All the kids knew him, all the kid’s moms knew him and my Aunt Nina, who happened to be 17 years old and pretty dang hot herself, made it her business to get to know him. Aunt Nina came to visit and baby sit me for two weeks while momma recuperated from an operation, which actually meant pool day all day every day and I was in heaven.
The feeling was apparently mutual because as soon as Pool God arranged his towel on his favorite reclining chair, he slathered his special tanning mix of baby oil and iodine on his chest and strutted around to the shallow end, where I was playing mermaid and Aunt Nina was being coy while not getting her long, perfectly straight, perfectly parted and gorgeously glossy head of hair wet.
They made small talk about the water temperature and sunshine while I was flopping around and splashing, like little kids do. I decided to get closer to hear what else they might talk about, so I stealthily swam underwater to the edge where Aunt Nina was flirting, and the Pool God was really digging it.
I popped up my head just as Pool God squatted down for more conversation with the very foxy Aunt Nina. Unfortunately, Pool God did not wear underwear beneath his short shorts, so his free willy was free to fall out the leg of his shorts when he squatted down. Just for a stunner, his full ball sack plopped out shortly thereafter, completing a horrific scene of parts I could not even begin to understand as a young child who had only briefly seen my dad naked as he ran from the shower to his bedroom with his hands covering what I now knew to be the weird things that just fell out of Pool God’s pants.
No wonder he covered them. They were hideous.
I don’t know if my Aunt didn’t see it, or she did and acted like she didn’t, but they just kept chatting like the guy hadn’t just let his junk escape out the leg of his short shorts.
I seriously thought there was something wrong with him. I was horrified. I couldn’t decide if he’d pooped a hairball or what the hell was going on, but I was beyond the capability of speech to ask why the hell he had a glob of hairy skin and a Vienna sausage in his pants.
I silently slipped underwater, away from the very confusing scene happening right outside the left leg hole of Pool God’s short-shorts. I counted to 10, which was just long enough for Aunt Nina to wonder where I was at. (She was a flirt, but a great babysitter, and always my favorite.)
Nina excused herself to find me and Pool God finally stood up to readjust his Vienna sausage hairball mess so it wasn’t on display for the whole world to see.
“Aunt Nina, there’s something wrong with him,” I whispered to her, after she beckoned me out of the water for a rest break.
“What do you mean, sweetie? Did he say something to you?” She asked.
“No, I think he pooped his pants or something. We shouldn’t get in the pool after him, it might float out of his britches,” I said. I was worried about disease a lot when I was little, it was a tool my mother used frequently. (“Honey you NEVER touch raw chicken. It will give you worms.” Consequently, I was 40 before I felt comfortable touching raw chicken. Worms ain’t no joke.)
Aunt Nina, who was then and still is one of the coolest people to ever walk the earth, patted my head and laughed. She agreed that we shouldn’t get in the pool with him or after him, but I think her reasons had more to do with the free-floating junk that may be on display more than poop.
We went home and she fixed me peanut butter sandwiches because there’s nothing like peanut butter sandwiches after a morning of swimming in the hot sun. (I’ll fight you over that one.)
All was right in the world again, and the Pool God left us alone, but I still to this day despise short-shorts.