The neighborhood I live in has a community pool. Nothing special, just a kidney shaped hole in the ground. There are no life guards, no slides, and with a maximum depth of five feet, no diving board. It’s basically a place where you can go when it’s 118° outside and you want to experience for yourself just how hot water can get when it sits in a scorching hot concrete tub all day. So on the weekends, I like to take the kids to the municipal pool, which is much cooler, has slides and other water-related things to play with, and is a beach-style pool, meaning that I have to keep a death-grip on my four year old most of the time instead of all of it.
The other thing about the beach-style pool is that, much like the real beach, it attracts large mammals which wash up on shore to die, apparently of arteriosclerosis. Look, I understand that a lot of people have issues with weight, and I’m certainly not suggesting that people with a weight problem should hide behind closed blinds all day. But there has got to be a more flattering place to lie down than in three inches of water. I swear, every single person who qualified as morbidly obese could be found on that part of the beach, like a desert version of Fisherman’s Wharf.
Now normally, I wouldn’t really care, except it raised the odds that my four year old, wide-eyed and innocent as he is, would say something inappropriate. You know how it is with toddlers: They say everything at 230 decibels unless they’re standing right next to you, and then they speak even louder. And what comes out of their mouth is as likely to be offensive as it is funny or cute. So when my son shouted, “HAHAHAHA!!! Look at that guy! He has BOOBS!” I was horrified, but hardly surprised.
Of course, I apologized profusely to the man in question because someone had to do it. My son, oblivious, had run off to play his favorite game: Floating face down in the water to scare the lifeguards. “I am so sorry. He’s only four.” I told the man with boobs. Now, I understand that being mocked by a four year old is not exactly going to be a boost for your self-esteem, but when you’re really, really large, you’ve got to come to terms with the fact that little kids might say inappropriate things around you. I mean, if I had a small dog growing out of the side of my head, I would absolutely expect kids, hell, even parents, to say things like, “Holy fucking shit! Is that a goddamn dog growing out of your head?”
But man-boobs was very upset, and muttered something I couldn’t quite catch, but sounded like an entreaty to teach my kids some manners. Dude, he’s four, you weigh at least 350 pounds, and you’re rocking some honest to God c-cups. What the fuck do you expect to happen? Lying in three inches of water, you’re lucky he didn’t throw you a fucking fish.
Of course, by the time I caught up with my son, two whole seconds had elapsed and he’d forgotten about the incident entirely, making it impossible to use it as a learning opportunity.
Me: Hey, what you sad to that man over there wasn’t very nice.
Me: You said something about that man over there, remember?
Son: I’m a sea monster! AAARRRGGGHHH!!! (splashes in water)
Me: Hey! Listen to me! This is very important. What you said to that man over there…
Son: What man? (looking at everyone nearby angrily as if they’d just snitched on him)
Me: That large man over there…
Son: (337 decibels) THEY’RE ALL LARGE! THOSE GUYS ARE FAT!
Me: (picking up my son and hustling him to the deep end of the pool) If you don’t say another word today, I will buy you a pony.
What really worried me was the fact that we had a planned outing the next day: We were going to the local bowling alley, not exactly known for sensibly portioned salads and tapered waistlines. If I didn’t want a howling mob of people throwing deep-fried cheese sticks at my children the next day, I’d need to nip this in the bud now.
So I patiently explained to my son that “…some people are larger than other people, and some people look different than other people, and that’s ok. What really matters is that we’re all nice people, and we certainly don’t want to make people sad by saying mean things, do we?”
My son shifted restlessly in my grasp, eyes roaming over the scores of children lucky enough to not have a father intent on teaching fucking life-lessons in the goddamn pool. “Ok, daddy,” he said, more to get me to let him go than because he understood what I was talking about.
“Ok, so we won’t say anything about large people, right? And especially we won’t say anything about guys with boobs, right?”
The little light-bulb went off over my son’s head, and he finally realized what I was talking about. “But daddy, THAT GUY HAD BOOBS!”
“I know, but it’s not nice to say so.”
“BOOBS LIKE MOMMY!”
He looked at me with an amazed look on his face, as if he’d just seen a dog flying a jetpack or something equally incongruous. And that’s when I realized that I had to drop the discussion for the moment, and play it off like it was no big deal. People remember and are influenced by strange things experienced as a child, and I envisioned myself twelve years from now ruing the day that I over-lectured my son on man-boobs while I cleaned out his browser history of such search terms as “chubby chasers”, “big-titted ho’s”, or “fold fuckers”.
To my great relief, my son didn’t say anything inappropriate at the bowling alley the next day. He did amaze me by bowling a 107 and a 109, which for a four year old is incredible and professional bowlers looking like they do, makes me wonder if he’s not planning on growing a majestic set of man-boobs for himself.