You gaze outside. It’s fall, almost winter. Trees barely carry leaves, no birds are chirping, no sun is shining. You start to shiver.You may wish to sit in a comfy armchair, sip some hot chocolate and just gaze into a crackling chimney fire.
Here’s an idea: you could also think about spending a very lazy day in a place where it’s still warm, where no scarf is needed because the sun is shining. It’s still summer down here: in Lagos, Portugal. Some people are walking the streets of this small town wearing a light colorful summer dress, comfy shorts and a t-shirt, cool shades and of course flip flops. Some people are hanging out at the beach or a pool wearing nothing but a bikini or shorts.
This actutally happened to me a while ago. I didn’t plan on spending the day at the kitehouse-pool. But since I had twisted my ankle a day earlier and it had swollen up to the size of a golfball over night – I seriously didn’t see that coming, I couln’t go downtown for sightseeing (too bad) and I couldn’t actually walk all the way down to the closest beach for some lazy beach-activity (that actually sucked). So I became one of the people who’d just sunbath at the pool – wearing nothing but a bikini and shades (life is tough).
I have to say this right now: It was terrible! It was boring! It was terribly boring!
Except for a few hours during which I had some company by a British family. So this is a story – pardon – an observation – about a husband, his wife and their son.
The British Family
I am reading while my new friends are surfing. I tell myself that I should stop feeling sorry for myself and start enjoying that I can just read without a phone ringing, an e-mail popping up in front of me or a paper waiting for me to be finished. I am on vacation. I can do a lot and I can do a lot of nothing. Right now I am the only one at the turquoise pool under the bright sun of Portugal. I brought a towel, sunscreen, magazines, water to drink, my travel guide and even a pen – just in case I might want to take notes. I am very prepared for doing a lot of nothing. I am trying to read and I might go for a swim later…when…
…a man in his early 40s walks towards the pool, wearing only bathing shorts and flip flops. He doesn’t say hello, he doesn’t even nod for a greeting. So I don’t say hello either. No words will be exchanged between us. He is only carrying a towel and some very important looking, thick layered newspaper in his hands. He finds an empty white-colored sunbed, made of plastic, puts down his towel and himself in the best possible reading position. He doesn’t apply sunscreen and he doesn’t even try to look for a sunshade. It’s only him out there in the sun with newspapers. He starts to read.
We are both reading. I change my position once or twice an hour not only to get an even tan but also to stretch out my muscles and see if they’re still functioning. Lying all day can be very tiring.
About an hour after the man’s appearance to the pool, a woman in her late 30s/early 40s walks into this almost slow-motion scenery. Her full-figured body is barely covered by a strapless black bathing suit. The exposed skin is slightly sunburned. Holding her right hand, there is a young boy – probably 3 or 4 years of age, wearing blue bathing shorts. Any towels, toys, sunscreen or other pool-time gadget? Not that I can remember…
The boy runs towards the reading man and yells “Daddy, let’s go swimming!” in a very cute British little boy’s accent. Slowly trotting behind is the woman in her black strapless bathing suit – she must be the man’s wife. Facing the sun directly and basically ignoring her son’s enthusiastic “I wanna swim! I wanna play! I wanna have fun” voice, the woman sits down on an empty plastic chair next to her husband who is s
till lying on the sunbed reading. Reading and sunbathing – what a marriage.
I wonder if I should swim, play and have fun with the kid but then decide not to interfere with their family business and continue doing nothing – respectively reading – respectively observing.
After a while I become annoyed by the boy’s yell for attention. If I were a mother (IF!!!) I would bring some toys or coloring stuff for my kid or actually go for a swim and play and have fun with my kid. Together with my husband (if there was a husband). Annoyed and startled by this non-social family life I decide to fix myself some lunch. Maybe they are gone within the next hour.
They are still there when I re-enter the pool-scenery. Still reading and sunbathing. And calling for attention by playing some made-up kid’s game for one kid – it seems the kid does not get tired at all. I go back to doing-nothing-lying-down and begin to set up my reading-drinking-observation-position.
Suddenly and surprisingly the man slowly stands up, puts down his wrinkled newspaper and lifts up his son with a big smile on both faces. The boy squeaks joyfully. I believe I even see his mother with a content smile. Finally the boy gets to go swimming and he yells to his mother to enter the pool as well. The sunbathing woman in her black strapless bathing suit with slightly more sunburned skin makes a fuss of going into the water. Her toes barely touch the water-surface and she shrugs. Cold water, I suppose. While father and son dabble and dive, mother slowly maneuvers herself waist deep into the pool. She is about to squeak anxiously. Cold water, I suppose.
Suddenly and surprisingly the man leaves the pool, expecting his kid t follow as if it were naturally that play-time is over and reading time are back on schedule. Of course the mother won’t dabble and dive with her son and insists in her boy leaving the pool as well. She is already back on her plastic chair. Her husband drowning in his stack of newspapers. A startled little boy now sadly sits by the side of the pool hoping either one of his parents will pay the attention he wishes for. He looks at them back and forth, yells for someone to play with him.
About an hour later – I learn to fade out the boy’s loud voice and his loving parents – I am back to doing nothing. Did I powernap? I don’t remember. I am contemplating whether to read the next article in my magazine or to figure out my travelling route or if I should go for a swim in the probably very cold water.
Suddenly (and not soooo surprisingly) the woman gets up from her plastic chair, leaving her sunbathing sweat behind and taking her son by the hand. Are they leaving? Father looks up from the newspaper and says something I cannot here. They are actually talking. The boy asks „Are we flying back home today, Daddy?“ (with his very cute British little boy’s accent). He and his mother leave the pool. And the man will follow a few minutes later. Maybe because he wanted to finish an article or maybe because he didn’t want to walk with his wife and son. I’ll never see them again.
Now I am back to being alone at the pool, resting my swollen ankle. I try to go for a swim but give up after four laps (each may 10 metres) as the water is frrrrrrreezing ccccccold.
In the evening my new surfer friends are back from surfing. I am curious about the conditions and number of waves the caught. I want to hear everything. And even more: I want to get back on the board.
I really can’t enjoy doing nothing. A day @ the pool, injured or not, isn’t my cup of tea.