Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Ethicist Goes to the Pool

Despite the fact my skin only varies in shades of pink, from pale pink to hot pink (Blush and Bashful?), Caleb and I have been spending serious time at the pool.

The other day, there were a group of younger teenagers there. Thirteen, fourteen, maybe. It’s hard for me to tell now. But some of them looked prematurely grown and others still had that goofiness of middle school to them.

Anyway, they were screwing around, throwing each other in the air and dunking each other, and the lifeguard blew his whistle at them a few times. The last time he did it, one of the kids asked, in a smart-ass kind of way, why they had to listen to him. The lifeguard sort of lost his shit and yelled back, “Because I’m the LIFEGUARD!”

I was done with my water-treading by then, and I picked up my book and sat under the shade area, next to the teenagers. I noticed that it sure looked like the boys—especially one boy, who looked more mature and wasn’t even wearing a swimsuit—were sexually harrassing one of the girls. Disrespectful touch and all that. But it also sort of looked like she liked it.

I like to think I’m the sort of person who would step in if I saw something bad going down. And I thought this was kind of bad, not in a criminal way, but in a sad gender-relations kind of way. I wanted to pull her aside and tell her that, yeah, maybe you have a crush on him, this alpha male, but when this is the kind of attention he’s giving you, nothing good will come of it. Initially, you want an arm around your waist, not a hand rubbing your booty. You want someone who calls and tells you he can’t wait to see you, not some asshole who dunks you and you come up sputtering.

But even if I weren’t some increasingly salmon-colored stranger, would she listen?

In the end, the ringleader boy stalked around and said, “Motherfucker,” re: the pool staff. Caleb was next to me, and I have a strict policy of his parents being the only one to introduce him to swear words, so I took my big action: I glared mightily. That’s the sort of involved citizen I am.


Hairline Fracture said...

If it's any consolation, I'm exactly the same way. I wish I were braver, more into kicking ass and taking names.

Anjali said...

I never know what to do in the moment, either, particularly with the teenage set. Glad those years are still kind of far off with my own kids.

me said...

My mom used to tell me, as her dad told her, "Everybody has to take their turn growing up." I often wonder how I would have responded, had some well-intentioned mother of children younger than me. told me to stick up for myself when I was trying to figure out the whole "boy" thing. Somewhere along the way, I did, and I'm sure she will, too.

Colleen said...

Ah, yes, the mighty glare. I'm a big fan of that one, too. :)