How the Piepmeiers have fun, or, the Dad in the Pool

If you want to come and see me,
I'm the guy without any clothes.
I'm billed as Naked Walter,
I play the Greyhound Lounge until they close.
--"Country Music Star," Walter Biffle

My brother Trey doesn't like it when I make universalizing statements about the Piepmeiers (even when they're patently accurate, like my observation back in December that "we Piepmeiers are a packratty bunch"), but we Piepmeiers are fun to hang out with. Here's what happened when Biffle--who has an unexplainable penchant for nudity--decided to take off his swim trunks in the ocean: we all followed his lead, and my mom took a picture.

This particular day at the beach reminds me of a phenomenon that Catherine and I have talked about a lot: the Dad in the Pool. In our childhoods, our dads didn't often go swimming with us, and if they did, it was hard as hell to get them in the water. But if you managed to whine and manipulate and beg enough, you might succeed in getting your dad in, and that's when the fun began. The Dad in the Pool was the life of the party--he would chase you around while you were shrieking your head off, let you ride on his back, and throw you in little, appropriately terrifying, parabolas into the water. This extreme fun only lasted for a little while, though, because the dad would always retire to the beach towel much sooner than you wanted him to. I think this is an interestingly gendered phenomenon that completely leaves the mom hanging: mom was the old reliable who always took us to the pool, so she got no credit. It was the Dad in the Pool that was the ultimate prize. And I think this might function as some sort of larger metaphor for father/daughter relationships.

Have other people experienced this Dad in the Pool thing?

Anyway, you'll notice from this picture that my dad chose not to come with us to the beach, so Walter ended up taking on the role of the Dad in the Pool (which, come to think of it, he often does).


Anonymous said...

My dad was always more than just the dad in the pool and rarely retired to the towel. He was the one who would take charge of throwing other people's kids in the water or make huge sand castles for hours (probably still would). But speaking as a mom, I'm well aware of the dad in the pool phenomenon. Why does the dad get to decide when he's "done" even if the kids aren't?

The Mom said...

Wow...that's a good observation, djl. (Is that Deandra?) Why did I just take it for granted and not question that when I had a chance? Maybe in my next lifetime...

The Dad said...

Yea Alison

You know, when I look back at those pool times, I really did have alot of fun. But I have some comments on the "Dad in the pool". Viewed from the eyes of the Dad.

The trip to the pool would go something like this:
Open to a sunny Saturday...
Kids: "cmonDadweregoingtothepool- cmoncmoncmon"
(spoken together and with great enthusiasm)
Dad: "Well, I..."
Kids: "Yeacmonletsgo - cmoncmoncmon"
Mom: "You know I think you should go with us. I see no reason why you shouldn't go with the family"
Kids: "YeaDad - Momsayssocmon"
Dad: "Well, I guess - OK"
Kids: "Yeathepool - Yhaaaaaaaaah"

After loading towels, toys, sun block, snacks (healthy), sandals and other sun related stuff into the minivan, off we go. All the while the kids are happily saying "Yhaaaaah".

Now, we arrive at the pool. The scene is an acre of water and a 1000 kids. We unload (kids continuing to say "Yhaaaah") and find our spot to place all our stuff, trowel sun block on the kids and let them go into the water.

The Dad is looking fonding at their fun and at a convenient lawn chair. When he starts to walk toward it, the kids are back with their cogent requests.
Kids: "Dad - water -swim - cmon - water - swim - cmon..."
Dad: "OK, just a minute and I am going to..."
Kids: "Nownownownownownownow"
Mom: "I see no reason why you shouldn't just go in the..."
Dad: "Uhh, OK"

But the funny thing was, when the Dad got in the water, he instantly turned into a shark. Gliding low in the water and searching for the unsuspecting kid.

The kid, once seeing the impending approach of the Daddy-shark, would shriek in delight/terror and start trying to run in 3-4' of water. The results were inevitable.

The Dad would quickly catch the kid and, after the shriek, would proceed to be climbed on and swim with 1 or more kids on his back. This would be followed by the "tossing the kid for distance" game.

After a while, the shark would then try to be cute and "attack" the Mom. This, of course, would not have the same affect. The Mom would stand and stare at the shark and once he got to her would start to hug on him. This would completely dissolve his shark-ego.

After several rounds of shark, swim and toss, the Dad would head for that lawn chair to rest. The kids could not understand this because they had 5x the energy of the Dad/shark.

After eating, more swimming and other various activities, we would gather all our water logged stuff and head for the minivan. Everyone would be tired, sun burned in a spot the sun blocked missed, looking out of chloriney eyes and very happy.

How does this interpretation fit with what you remember...

The Dad

Cate Bush said...

DJL (i.e. Deandra) I actually got teary reading your entry about your Dad. In so many ways, your Dad is my ideal. Cheers to him!


Alison said...

Dad, that story should go on the List of Constant Facts!

I definitely remember the shark game. I'm sure that as an adult, that game got old pretty fast, but I remember as a kid I wanted it to go on forever.

Anonymous said...

The thought of Biffle burning his croutons on the beach gives me more nightmares than any of Al Gore’s bodements about global climate change.