The Fool-Proof Guide to Failing with Flair

Everything you need to know about getting it wrong.

Rodney’s in Danger

Pool Shark


I have had a request from my friend, J, to write about a specific topic. I can’t say that I will always acquiesce to her requests or those of anyone else but Rodney deserves a small shot at infamy. Rodney is J and D’s pool shark. He slithers around on the bottom of their pool, keeping the debris to a minimum. In case any of you are alarmed by the idea that my friends are swimming with a real shark, allow me to clarify. Rodney is a machine. He is their automatic pool sweeper and a source of both amusement and irritation. I always felt like he was following me lovingly around the pool when I swam, so he was also the closest thing I had to a boyfriend all summer. Really, he was more like a stalker, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Before I continue to wax romantic about Rodney, I would like to address another matter: the names of other people I refer to in my posts. I have decided first or last initials won’t do. Too many people I know have names that begin with the same letters. If I call everyone J or D or B, soon I will be almost as confused about who I am talking about as anyone who might read this blog. J and D have made an appearance here before, in Barbie Black Thumb. Today, I am giving them their own pseudonyms. I will start calling J “Dirty Girl”. This is, in fact, what shows up on my caller ID when we text or talk. I didn’t give her the nickname as a reference to some tendency towards perversion or because she never showers. I gave it to her because she can never get her fingernails completely clean and because her previous nickname, “Chief-Adult-In-Charge-Of-Shit” was too long to display properly on my phone. There was one other nickname before that but I do not think she would appreciate if I posted it here and it would require a great deal of explanation as well. Now I need to rename D. I think I will call him “Bear”. I hope, if he reads this, he understands that it is a fond reference to his beloved dog (now in dog heaven) and not because I think he resembles a bear, though he is quite hirsute. Complaints about those names, and any others I choose to assign, may be lodged with human resources and will be taken under advisement.

OK then.

Dirty Girl and Bear recently moved from their house (the one with the pumpkin plant) in the Hippie-Happy Valley to a new house in the Outer Banks. I helped them pack up and move, mostly by going through Dirty Girl’s closets with her and trying to force her to get rid of things she didn’t want to get rid of, like the Scottish whore tank top. She kept that one purely out of spite for me calling it that. My favorite closet was the Holy-Mother-of-God closet. No, it wasn’t a closet filled with Virgin Mary relics. It was a closet that was so full I exclaimed, “Holy Mother of God!” when I first tried to open it. After we were done throwing out or giving away the .05% of her clothes she was reluctantly willing to part with, I hopped in my car and caravan-ed down to North Carolina with Dirty Girl, Bear, the three cats, and their dog, Bonnie (not a pseudonym) to help them unpack. I was even less effective as a helper on that end than I had been at getting Dirty Girl to thin her wardrobe. Consequently I spent most of my three weeks at the Outer Banks either hanging out or swimming with Rodney. We got very cozy.

Rodney is a cute, alien-looking creature. He lives, 24-7, in the pool during swimming season, roaming around the bottom and sides, and blowing spurts of water and air when he gets too close to the surface. I think motion in the water wakes him up if he has gone dormant so, when you swim, he is always active. If you’re not paying close attention to his whereabouts he will sneak up on your feet and drag his hose across your backside. I thought it was was kind of flirtatious and sweet, but when Dirty Girl and Bear had other visitors later in the summer, I was told they found Rodney’s overtures a bit more unsettling. One friend (I will call him The Man in Tights–you don’t need to know why) went so far as to accuse Rodney of sexual assault and attempted rape. The trial resulted in a plea of “no contest” and Rodney is still free in the pool and continues to fondle his visitors.

Poor Rodney’s troubles were not over after The Man in Tights departed for home. Dirty Girl and Bear’s dog, Bonnie, has finally noticed him. Bonnie is not a water dog and tended to steer clear of the pool while I was there. I think she was afraid someone would throw her in. (That may be because we actually did try to coax her in, rather forcefully, a couple times.) Maybe she felt safer near the water once I was gone, or perhaps she finally gave up on the squirrel she has been stalking daily, long enough to notice Rodney’s squirts and bubbles and decided to investigate. Whatever the reason, she eventually got close enough to the edge of the pool to realize there was something down there in the water and she was not any happier about it than The Man in Tights had been. She feels the need to express her displeasure by following Rodney’s progress from the side of the pool and barking admonishments at him when he gets close to her position.

I am worried about Rodney. He has been through a lot this summer. He was so depressed at one point that he stopped his assaults on both the pool surfaces and it’s visitors and sat sadly to one side with his bag between his wheels. I failed to keep him safe from false accusations and now I am powerless to stop him from becoming a victim of dogged prejudice. I will try to get back to the Outer Banks to visit him later this fall or next spring but for now all I can do is spread awareness of his plight and hope he forgives me for leaving him alone with those less forgiving of his sins.


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