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Susan Hubbard 

Why I Have to Marry the Pool Guy 


I always marry writers.

My first husband wrote nonfiction: a book about sailing, a book about banks. They brought in lots of money, none of which I spent.

My second husband writes poems. His books are lyrical, but they never make enough to pay the rent.

My husbands sit in dark rooms, their pale fingers summoning alphabets. I sit in the kitchen. I fix the things that have been broken, and I watch the pool guy.

It's our first pool, and it takes a lot of work. We don't swim much, but we like the lights poolwater casts through the bedroom windowpane.

It's our second pool guy. The first one disappeared. Two weeks later the second one presented a new business card. Without the card we never would have noticed. Both pool guys look exactly like Kurt Cobain.

As I write those words his shadow passes through the kitchen window.

I look up to see his face in profile--mouth ruminating, eyes pensive.

The pool guy bends and kneels, stoops to submerge and fill tiny vials of water, adds chemicals with eyedroppers, shakes the vials and ponders. He holds the vials as the water changes color, takes notes on a clipboard. His handwriting is small and scratchy, and he always uses black ink.

He leaves detailed instructions: "Add 1 pint muriatic acid. Wait 24 hours. Broadcast 2 lb. stabilizer. Retest ph values. Test chlorine and bromine."

This is a text that I will profit by. This is language I can understand. I do exactly what the pool guy says. Next week he will return, take measurements, muse, sigh. If the ph is balanced he might smile.

But the ph isn't often balanced. Sunlight consumes chlorine.

Algae come with rain.

Today the pool guy beckons me. His hand is deeply tanned, his voice is soft. "You have a bloom of yellow algae." His eyes are focused faraway. "You'll want to supershock."

I nod. In this relationship I always agree.

He looks perplexed. From the pocket of his cut-off jeans he takes a beeper. He asks to use the telephone.

I bring him one. He taps a number.

He says, "This won't take long."

He listens, smiles, says thanks. "My friend at Cocoa says the waves are perfect," he says. "You surf?"

I say, "No, but I've always meant to learn."

He gazes at the pool. "You have some surface cracks," he says. "You should think about resurfacing."

I follow the line of his gaze through turquoise water seeking cracks, but what I find is his reflection--Adonis profile, long-lashed eyes, pale hair. I stretch my hand to touch him and embrace only air.

This is not about a pool. The pool guy is my fiction. I'm his fool.

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