The Shark at the Pool

July 31, 2012


The  pale guy with the ginger beard and stocky body is trying way too hard.  My husband and I sit on nearby deck chairs, sunglasses on, magazines in hand, ears pricked. Stuff like this is too good to miss.

It’s ninety degrees outside, but ginger beard is lounging in the hot tub, beads of sweat slicing down his neck. Occassionally he dunks his head under the bubbling froth and then surfaces, wiping his beard with one hand, face pink and eager.

Two slip-thin girls, slick with tanning oil, sit near the hot tub, sharing an oversized beach lounge. They’re the reason ginger beard is braving the hot tub in this heat, and he’s working it, despite the disinterested and mono-syllabic responses he’s getting from the girls.

“So, are you girls going to check out Boulder while you’re here?” he asks, taking a tall draw from his beer.

The girl in the red bikini–Bree–has resorted to pretending to text on her cell phone. She’s put up with ten minutes of his attention and she’s had it. She focuses on the small screen, wordless.

The girl with hair so blond it’s almost white–Jessica–has a softer heart. She can’t bring herself to just cut ginger beard down outright. She shrugs and says, “I dunno,” and then looks out across the pool area, searching for a place to relocate.

“I mean, Boulder’s not like Chicago or anything,” ginger beard says, “but it’s a cool little town. I work there. I’m in the tech industry and Boulder’s really booming right now,” he says. “I work my ass off but the money’s great.”

“Yeow,” my husband whispers to me. “Already playing the money card.”

“Well, he’s not going to get by on looks,” I say, squeezing lime into my gin and tonic. “Especially if he stays in that hot tub much longer. He’s going from the soft-boiled stage to the hard-boiled. Look how freakin’ red his face is.”

Jessica looks at her friend. Still texting. She gives a weary little sigh and says, “maybe we’ll get up there.”

“Yeah, it’s cool, but I gotta tell ya, if you go there, don’t stay anywhere except the St. Julien,” ginger says authoritatively. “Every other hotel sucks.  I mean, it’s not like this…” he gestures out towards the pool area.  “You can’t beat the Four Seasons, but the Julien is nice.” Ginger flags the waitress for another beer.

Despite the lack of response, he plugs away. “You like it here, the Four Seasons? It’s awesome, right? I come down and stay here at least once a month, just to get out of Boulder. To remember there’s a real world out there. It’s totally worth the expense, and Denver’s got awesome night life.”

“I’m in pain,” I murmur to my husband.

My husband chews a piece of ice and grins wickedly. “Hate to tell him, but I don’t think the Four Seasons is the ‘real world,’ do you?”

“What? The real world doesn’t have chilled washcloths at the ready and twenty dollar Caesar salads?”

Jessica’s run out of polite; she reaches in her bag for her cellphone. Escape via Apple.

I look at the clock. “Speaking of the ‘real world’…it’s time for us to get back to ours, don’t you think?”


“I know. Thanks for the little 24-hour getaway, though,” I say patting his leg. “It was perfect. You’ve been working so much…”

He downs the last of his drink. “Hazard of summertime. Summer’s always nuts. I feel like I never even see you.”

“Well, you see me now,” I say in a snooty accent, striking a pose like Posh Spice. “Poolside at our one–and probably only ever–afternoon at a Four Seasons hotel.”

He shakes his head, gathering his things. “You’re a dork.” He holds a hand out, helping me out of my lounge chair. “It was nice, though. We got a great deal. I was surprised.”


The valet opens the car door and I slide in. Homeward. My husband fiddles with the stereo as he drives, unable to fixate on a station, which drives me nuts.  He always turns the volume too high; another irritant.  Distracted with the stereo, he allows the car to weave slightly, threatening to wander into the next lane.

“Head’s up!” I say sharply, and he startles to attention. I drum my fingers on the car’s armrest.

We drive for a bit in silence.

“I wonder if that guy’s still out there, working those girls,” he says.

“He wasn’t getting anywhere. My sister used to refer to guys like that as ‘W.T.I.’–Way Too Interested. I mean, couldn’t he feel the chill coming off those girls?”

“I don’t know.” My husband sighs. “God, I am so glad I’m not out there any more. It’s just…brutal. Getting the nerve up, putting yourself out there, trying to shake it off when you’re shut down. Brutal.”

“I always felt kind of bad for guys. They always have to approach, take all the risk. I’m so glad I’m a chick. I don’t think I could do it.”

“You know, it can’t be that easy for females, either,” he says. “I mean, look at those girls at the pool, trying to be polite, gritting their teeth, praying for mercy that he’ll get the hint and bugger off, tolerating his blahblahblah.”

“Huh. I never thought about it that way.” I digest that one. “That part did suck, actually. You’re right. I was always too nice and they stuck around forever, still sharkin’. I just didn’t have the heart to shoot on contact. Ugh.”

He changes the station again.

“You should have,” he says. “Saved him the time. Saved both of you the time.”

“I know. God, you should have seen my sister. She was a piece of work. Totally ruthless. A guy would approach her, and if she wasn’t impressed, she’d look right at him–the dead fish eye–and say, ‘Um, No.’ And then turn her back.”

“Okay, maybe not that direct.”

“You know what I always hated? Guys who would just send a drink over, without ever making the effort to talk to me first. They’d make the bartender do the work: ‘So-and-so over there sent you this…’ and then you’d feel like you had to go over and talk to the shmuck even though he did things the chickenshit way. ‘Sorry, jerkstore, but a free beer doesn’t mean I’ll waste twenty minutes talking to you.'”

I hear myself and wince. “Did that just make me sound like a horrible person?”

He shakes his head and turns up the stereo. “Remind me to tell R. that one. That’s a good tip. I don’t think a lot of guys know that girls resent that tactic.”

I lean over and punch the volume down. “We’re complicated creatures, you know.”

He changes the station.

“Dude, that was Boston, okay? Don’t put the kibosh on Boston. That’s just rude.”

He rolls his eyes, changes the station back, and says, “Yep. Suuure glad I settled down.”

I smack him in the arm. “Yeah you are.”


We exit the freeway. Ten minutes until home.

“How much you want to bet that when we hit the door, the first thing the girls will say is ‘Hi!’… immediately followed by, ‘I’m hunnnnngrrry Mama.'”

He smiles. “The odds of them doing anything otherwise are You know how they’re forced to exist on crumbs while you’re gone. Poor orphans.”

“I know, right? Like that pantry isn’t stocked to the gills.”

“They’re like Pavlov’s dogs,” he says. “Just the sight of you induces pangs of starvation.”

“Lucky me.”


I’m right of course. As is he. We’re greeted by tousled curls and big brown eyes and immediate demands for edibles. I make my way to the kitchen; the unpacked bags will have to wait. Lucky. That’s us.

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Abby July 31, 2012 at 6:10 am

I have the attention span of a gnat with ADD jacked up on Pixie Sticks, but I could read your writing forever. You weave a wonderful tale, even if it involves creepy guys in Speedos. Loved this post.


Ami July 31, 2012 at 6:25 am

I really loved this story. Poor oblivious ginger-beard.


TKW July 31, 2012 at 12:12 pm


It was painful, I tell ya!


Samantha Angela July 31, 2012 at 6:49 am

I always feel bad for guys too because it’s hardly fair that they have to do all the work. Most of my girlfriends won’t even bother trying to talk to a guy that think they could be interested in. “Oh, he’ll have to come talk to me.”
Poor guy. It’s just as nerve-wracking for him to approach you as it is for you to approach him.

Needless to say, I was the type to take the bull by the horns if I wanted to pick someone up. It rarely worked, but at least I knew how guys felt. It made me sympathetic to them a bit, and a lot nicer if they tried to approach me.


TKW July 31, 2012 at 11:00 am

Samantha Angela,

I had to practically throw myself at my husband. Sigh.


Jody July 31, 2012 at 6:54 am

Tell R that I always LOVED the send-over-a-drink method. I always found it very Cary Grant – much more grown up and classy than, “So, you come here often?” I have never resented free booze.


TKW July 31, 2012 at 12:13 pm


I promise to give him the flip side! You have a point about the free booze…:)


Arnebya July 31, 2012 at 7:46 am

To guys I wasn’t interested in, I used to say “No habla Ingles” (or No habla Espanol if I’d had a margarita or four (which was funny as hell to me to say to a man NOT speaking Spanish)). I’ve thought about how hard it has to be to talk to women, especially ones who turn down by way of sarcasm or rudeness or thinly veiled pleasepleasegetaway. I do admit I like to watch the sharks, though, since I’m out of the “game.” Whenever my husband and I go out, we marvel at how neither of us would want to go back to that. “If I fall out of love with you, I will stay just to save you from the brutality of the hunt.”


TKW July 31, 2012 at 11:02 am


That last line cracked me up. “The hunt” does suck. Sooo glad I’m out of it.


Jenna July 31, 2012 at 8:35 am

This is where I thank God that Adam and met at 18, so I was never properly “out there” as an adult. It sounds painful and I’m glad to have skipped it. =)


TKW July 31, 2012 at 11:03 am


You met at 18? Wow. If I’d married the guys I dated at 18…eww.


Jessica July 31, 2012 at 12:34 pm

My husband and I talk often about how happy we are to be out of the dating world. Maybe we should focus on saying we are happy to be married to each other but we joke about how miserable dating is and how glad we are that we saved each other from the misery of it.


Jennifer July 31, 2012 at 1:53 pm

So, so lucky.

Stories like this make me glad I married so young.


Contemporary Troubadour July 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm

That your husband was following this poolside scene as intently as you were is *priceless*. I love my own guy, of course. But if I wait for the day Mr. Boy Scout will people-watch and provide commentary, the pool will be closed and drained! You lucky girl, indeed ;).


TKW July 31, 2012 at 4:52 pm


Usually, he is oblivious. We were in really close proximity to this guy, though, and I think that made the difference. It’s double fun to eavesdrop with a sidekick.


suzicate July 31, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Poor Ginger Beard! Your hubby is right….so glad to not have to be out there fishing these days!


Jamie July 31, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I am so one of the “Jessicas” of the world. I actually admire people like your sister who can just tell people when to f*#% off!


TKW July 31, 2012 at 4:53 pm


I know! WHY can’t I ever do that? I blame my mother. Might as well, since I blame her for everything else :) She always encouraged me to be a “good” girl. Good girl=living target.


Absence of alternativrs July 31, 2012 at 5:26 pm

This is the extraordinary ordinary!!! I agree with how being in the market sucks, but if the guy looks like Ryan gosling, all rules are off!


TKW August 2, 2012 at 7:12 am


Gosling? Ohhhhh, isn’t he dreamy?


Katybeth July 31, 2012 at 9:52 pm

So glad that part of my life is OVER. I didn’t like it then and I’m sure I would like it even less now. I had a super marriage, have a great kid, and now I’m content to carry on alone. Unless money shows up of-course, I’m shallow that way.
Great story and isn’t good to know you’re missed when you’re away.


TKW August 2, 2012 at 7:13 am


“Unless money shows up, of course…” You crack me up!


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes August 1, 2012 at 5:14 am

I met my husband at 17. The result is that I seem to have forgotten how the whole ‘game’ works. It is rather emberassing when your co-worker has to tell you that another guy (also co-worker) has the hots for you and tells you to be not so friendly. My defense of ‘ But I’m married…’ was met with disdain and a ‘yeah so is he’. So I think I’ll practice that ‘cold fish eye’ stare…


TKW August 2, 2012 at 7:14 am


Oh my. A married man, even. Pigs are everywhere, aren’t they?


Robin August 1, 2012 at 8:29 am

You are such a great story teller and a wonderful humorist. I love to come here to read your posts. Great title.

Lucky you. Your husband people watches and does commentary. I’m just going to say it – I am a little jealous.


TKW August 2, 2012 at 7:15 am


He doesn’t always. If he’s reading something good, I’m usually reduced to spying on my own.


Cathy August 1, 2012 at 10:40 am

I love people watching – I do it daily on my commute. Eavesdropping is such a bonus because often everyone is alone communicating with their electronic devices.

I think you so perfectly captured the essence of marriage. The dialogue, the unspoken knowns, the irritations and the lovely banter between two people who know they are lucky.


TKW August 2, 2012 at 7:16 am


It’s funny isn’t it? Those little irritants that grate on you, but then something–like a shark sighting–reminds you how good you have it.


Tiffany August 1, 2012 at 1:16 pm

You could seriously write about the word “The” and I would be entranced. Amazing.


TKW August 2, 2012 at 7:17 am


You are so sweet. I wonder if anyone HAS ever written about the word “The?”


Velva August 1, 2012 at 6:18 pm

I am not sure I could hack the dating scene at this point in my life-God the effort would be too much. We have a place here that attracts the 40+ divorce crowd on Wednesday eve…It can be scary place….Not to mention, living in a capitol city, we have plenty of lawyers, lobbyists and politicians who spend too much time away from home,and too much time in these places. Creepy dudes, and way overdressed women.

Glad you enjoyed your time with your hubby.



TKW August 2, 2012 at 7:18 am


Why do women overdress? It just kind of reeks of desperation, don’t you think?


Jane August 1, 2012 at 7:20 pm

You are amazing. I always get sucked right into your writing.
(So glad you and hubs were able to sneak away for some “us” time!)


Camilla August 2, 2012 at 3:17 pm

You feel sorry for the red head but it does make for a great stare…..perfect entertainment for a little get-a-way….I want one too!


The Meaning of Me August 2, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Great story – made me laugh out loud! The “um, no” part is fantastic. Husband and I love to people watch. And love how stuck and lucky we are, too. :)


Barbara August 3, 2012 at 5:23 am

No matter the generation, there’s always a ginger beard. No matter the age, as well.


Ayala August 4, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Great storytelling :) I believe it was painful listening to Ginger beard guy… Some men are just clueless . Sweet, I love that when they see you they ask for food. Lucky you :)


TKW August 5, 2012 at 9:25 am


You like it when they immediately demand food? You have just given me a whole new perspective, here! I always viewed it as highly annoying behavior. Maybe I’d better re-think my stance…


ayala August 6, 2012 at 6:34 am



Dawn August 4, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Great writing as usual. Glad you guys got some time alone, that’s always a good thing. I was thinking the same thing, how the little irritants we have with each other can seem like such big things until we consider the alternative. Pick your battles, I always say. Otherwise recognize how lucky we are to have someone to share things like this with.


TKW August 5, 2012 at 9:26 am


You’re right, of course. The alternative is…ugh, I can hardly even think about it!


Heather August 19, 2012 at 5:36 pm

I could feel the pain with every word! I’m not sure if I should feel sorry for this guy or be embarrassed for him…


ck August 20, 2012 at 6:13 am

I think I wound up with two of the other pups from Pavlov’s litter. Are yours also trained to whine at the sight of you? Yeah…mine too.

(I’m binging on your writing this morning. Bliss.)


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