Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Swimming pool communist

Hot night tonight. Nothing’s moving. The trees shiver every once in a while but it’s just a tease, a breeze you can see but can’t feel.

Heat waves in Ottawa are the worst in Canada, a country that holds the world record for the most number of deaths during a heat wave. Back in the thirties, over a thousand people died. Four hundred of them drowned trying to cool off.

There’s nothing like a valley with two major rivers running through it to make sure the sauna stays moist and toasty.

John and I went out for Dairy Queen last night. It didn’t help. I guess people knew that already. The place was deserted. Or maybe everybody was just too hot to go anywhere.

Our little household—John, James, myself—has neighbours with a swimming pool. They tend to stick to themselves and give off those disapproving vibes you get from people who think they’re too good for the ’hood. Their kids are fat. They’re also well-mannered and respectful of their parents in that complaisant way that always makes me nervous.

Those same neighbours haven’t offered us their swimming pool yet, and I'm mystified. Health agencies have been issuing warnings left and right. Emergency cooling centres have been set up in strategic locations around the city. Everybody needs relief (except those bastards with air-conditioning making the problem worse for everybody else), and our neighbours haven’t got the decency to invite us over.

You can tell they think: We worked for this. We own it (though more likely, they’re paying it off). Why should we share it with you? You’re welfare bums.

They know nothing of our stories. I doubt it would make a difference if they did. You don’t get mean-spirited and unneighbourly just by having more credit than the people next door. You have to start off that way.

I used to do landscaping work in Caledon, north of Toronto. It’s rich folks’ territory. Some of the estates I worked on were big enough to be provincial parks. Everybody had a swimming pool and at least one spring-fed artificial pond. On really hot days, the owners always told us to jump right in. Nothing to it.

I guess that’s the difference between being rich and putting on airs.

John says I'm a swimming pool communist. Maybe I am. These days, if I had one, I'd certainly be sharing it. And frankly, yes, I expect others to do the same.

What is wrong with people?

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