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Pool Talk - short story




It’s dead hot summer. My wife and I are lounging at a lakeside pool in the Texas Hill Country, our boat in a nearby slip. It's a fancy place filled with wealthy people, mostly professionals, and beautiful women who'd tempt even a good man astray. It’s an upscale resort in the heart of Texas, a place you don’t expect perverts or criminals.
We’re sitting poolside next to some guy and his wife. A girl in white shorts and halter top takes our drink orders. Ends up, the guy and I drink the same top-shelf gin. Our spouses order bottles of water. We don’t know this couple. Presumably, they are on vacation, same as us.
The pool area is landscaped with water fountains, gothic statues, gurgling streams, waterfalls and goldfish, palm trees, rock gardens and flowers. A bronze sculpture of an eagle the size of a small plane adorns a mossy island at the center of the pool. Our surroundings include multilevel decks, hot tubs, a dance floor, food and drink tents, and a white sand beach adjoining the lake. Hot air balloons hang in the distant blue sky. We’ve been provided towels, bowls of pretzels and a complimentary massage and a cocktail. Music plays. It’s Memorial Day weekend, people everywhere.
The guy’s wife and my wife have entered the pool. None of the women here are wearing much of anything. Our wives take a stand in the shallow end and begin chatting and sipping their waters. The guy waddles over and gets in the pool, stands next to his wife for a moment, then submerges himself and comes dripping back to his chair. He's going bald.
The guy and I begin to converse in the manner of men. A few words now and then. Short sentences, observations mostly, nothing chatty. He asks about my boat. I ask about his boat. He tells me he has two jet skis and a vacation home near Vail. We compare. That sort of thing.
We’re laid out on these white lounge chairs with our heads propped. We both wear shades and hold novels we’re not reading. Mine is, "All the Light We Cannot See"; his is, "All the Pretty Horses". Our spouses remain in the pool, still chatting. A third woman joins them. The girl comes back around. We order another round.
It’s early afternoon. A deejay plays old songs--Beatles, Petty. My wife and I have been here three days. The custom is to sit for a while and read in the shade of these massive white umbrellas, sip drinks and occasionally dip into the pool to stop the sweat. Brown people and oiled people plant themselves in the sun on the decks or on the beach. Later, when it becomes a scorcher and everyone is properly lubricated, we’ll all enter the pool and wade around with our drinks, talking to one another. A live band starts at six. Everyone here is adult, although the age of adulthood appears to be slipping.
The guy and I don’t look at one another. I don’t know what the man looks like. Couldn’t pick him out of a lineup to save me. I imagine he’s the same with me. We’re two guys. We talk straight toward the pool or into our books. I take a closer look at the third woman who stands in the pool talking to our wives. She is about our age and gorgeous, the same as our wives. Time passes. We order another round of drinks from the girl in white shorts.
“Women come to the pool nearly naked these days,” says the guy. It’s the first thing he’s said since we talked about our boats twenty minutes earlier. I was hot and ready for a dip.
“If we walked in on any one of these women when they were dressed in bra and panties,” he continues, his voice just under the music, “they’d cover up and turn away. They’d get all pissed that we saw them like that.”
“Yep.”
A few minutes go by. I pretend to read my novel; I sip my drink. The aroma of oils and lotions mixed with sweat and perfume, an occasional whiff of hamburgers and fries. Women pass in front of us. Women get in and out of the pool. They oil themselves, they lounge and spread. Dark sunglasses are a necessity.
“You have an attractive wife,” says the guy.
“Thanks. You too,” I say.
He says, “You could get a hundred guys to rate your wife and my wife and even that third woman, and it would come out in a tie. Each a solid nine. Almost perfection.”
“Yep.”
Another five minutes. I actually read a couple of paragraphs. Bombs going off.
“My guess,” says the guy, “is that in a permissible world, one where such things were approved of, and were our spouses willing, you would enjoy having sex with my wife. I'm not suggesting anything, mind you. Just saying.”
“Sure thing,” I say. “You’d be the same.”
“Yep.”
Another minute passes. I notice two younger men looking at our wives, or perhaps at the third woman, or all of them.
“My next guess,” says the guy, “is that for that one time, at least, you would find sex with my wife more exciting and enjoyable than you would sex with your own.”
“Probably so, and you the same. Your blonde for my brunette.”
“Yep.”
I look at my wife. I look at his wife. I glance at the guy. I think he's looking at my wife, or perhaps at the third woman.
He continues, “Why is that, I wonder? What's wrong us, with men, that we feel this way? I guarantee you, we all feel this way. Trump."
“I have the same question,” I say. “What’s more, our wives would find our conversation disgusting and vile. Perverted even. Trump.”
“Without question.”
“Yet, here we are with your nearly naked wife and my nearly naked wife, and a nearly naked third woman and all these other women, all out in public milling around with total strangers, their breasts three quarters exposed, their asses bared. Their bodies oiled and spread. May as well be a nude beach. You’d think we were at the Playboy mansion. Look at that third woman. She’s wearing strings. They are truly works of art. But no touching.”
“It’s an unfair world.”
“Yep.”
“We’re expected to ignore all this...this stuff. They may as well be dressed for church as far as we’re concerned. Who you voting for?"
"Trump. You?"
"Trump, of course. Hillary's worse than Obama."
"Not sure about that."
"Your wife?"
"Not Trump. Probably won't vote."
"Mine's voting for the other guy. Can't recall his name."
Ten more minutes pass. My wife retakes her seat beside me. The guy’s wife lounges next to him. The third woman remains in the pool and is joined by another, a woman with a small tattoo of something just above her ass, just the two of them about ten feet in front of us on steps that go under the water into the pool. The third woman spreads her legs and bends and scoops a bit of water and splashes it onto her shoulders. She’s about to bust out of her strings. The tattooed woman is wearing little more than her drink.
The guy and I order more gin from the girl. The wives order margaritas.
My wife gets out the baby oil from our yellow carry-bag and passes it to me. I oil her back. She oils her legs. She gets up and sits on the edge of the other wife's lounge chair and begins to oil her back. She oils her legs. I get up with my drink, take four steps and enter the pool. I’m in water up to my waste. The third woman stands nearby. She’s alone. The tattooed woman has wandered over to a group of younger, attractive men.
The third woman looks uncomfortable by herself. Her nipples jut improbably brown beneath her sheer bikini top. I take a step toward her and lift my drink in a gesture of geniality. My wife gets up and joins us. I move away.
It seems I’m the first to bring alcohol into the water today. Something I am prone to notice, the idea of being first at something. Five minutes later, several others are standing in the pool with their drinks. I’m a trend setter. Conversations begin in different groups all around. We’re lubricated, so to speak. The sun has become relentless. The live band tunes guitars.
The guy joins me in the water. We stand off to the side, and lean against the side of the pool. His wife and mine talk to one another nearby. They get out of the pool and head off somewhere with the third woman in tow. Probably to the restroom.
“What does your wife do?” he asks me, his gaze on the women as they walk away.
“Lawyer. Yours?”
“Owns and operates this trendy book store. Very successful. What do you do? I’m a physician, by the way, pediatrics.”
“Dentist,” I say. We shake hands.
We drink. We rattle the ice in our cups. The girl comes by with refills.
The men here, including both the guy and myself, disgust me. All men disgust me. The younger men here are arrogant; they flex and parade themselves and are full of bluster, just like I used to be. I'm still full of bluster and arrogance according to my wife; I just don’t parade anymore, don’t have the look. Many of the men my age here have a belly, like mine. Men don’t compare favorably, to women. Certainly not in a pool. There are exceptions of course, like those younger men that cause older men to notice what we’ve become.
“You like pizza?” says the guy.
“Sure,” I say, “I love pizza.”
“Would you want to eat pizza every day?”
“No, I wouldn’t want pizza every day.”
“Exactly, you’d get tired of it. You’d still love it, but you'd want something different.”
“Yep.” I think about this for a moment, then add, “My wife likes pizza.”
“You know,” says the guy, “it’s a good thing women are the way women are.”
“Very true,” I say. “Otherwise, we'd be in serious trouble.”
“Women couldn't vote until 1920. Did you know that? Ridiculous.”
“Yep.”
“Black men, for instance, got the right to vote in 1869, but not black women, not until 1920.” 
We both sip our drinks and look around.
“Not only that,” I say, “but after more than 230 years our country has not had one female president or vice president, and very few in high office, and no women Popes. Those boys could use a few women in their midst. Is Hillary a woman?"
We touch our cups together in a toast. I get a good look at him. He’s got a belly too. Not very good looking at all. Neither am I. I’m thirty-nine. The guy says he’s thirty-nine.
“We’re lucky to have spouses like ours,” he says.
“I’d probably be an orgy guy without my wife. “And I don’t want to be an orgy guy.”
“Good thing women are the way women are." 
We touch our glasses together again, our bellies jiggling with chuckle.
“If women were like men, life would be perpetual debauchery,” he says, “We'd just lay around all day, randomly mating, watching sports.”
“Yep.”
The guy tells me he read somewhere that men use their tongues to excess while kissing a woman, and that this is based upon some genetic male tendency to distribute testosterone in their saliva into a woman’s mouth to stimulate her. Women, on the other hand, prefer less tongue and tend to hold their mouths closed or only slightly parted until they are fully aroused. According to the guy, it's only when a woman’s tongue is fully activated in a kiss that she is amped and ready. Sounds odd to me, but then he’s a real doctor, so who can argue?
“My wife's not fond of the tongue, not in kissing, anyway, not anymore.” I say this with a needful tone that I'd not intended. Probably shouldn’t have said anything.
“Mine either. It’s a good thing women are the way women are.”
Two of the younger guys have begun to banter with the third woman and the tattooed woman. They laugh hysterically at whatever is said. Our wives amble over to join the group. They sip their drinks, and look our way. Two other young guys come over and join them. They form a sexy looking group. Four men and four women drinking, standing nearly naked in water. The girl comes by with a pitcher and refills their drinks. Our wives turn their backs to us.
“Women don't understand. It’s all just chemicals and brain chemistry. It’s not immaturity or lack of character that keeps a man from virtue. It’s testosterone,” says the doctor.
“Yep, pure and simple. A strange and powerful brew.”
“Yep.”
 That’s the last thing the guy says. Several minutes pass. I get up with my drink and go to the restroom, come back into the pool just as the guy gets out. He drys off, then gathers his things at a signal from his wife. They head down the walkway toward the boats. My wife has retaken her seat in the lounge chair.
 The guy walks behind his wife with his drink in his hand. He turns and looks toward me, makes a motion with his cup at his wife’s ass and smiles. I raise my cup.
 We toast to women, and the way women are.

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