Monday, 10 October 2011

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The Paris Pool Incident

Do you have those places in the world that you just can't show your face again?  Someplace where you did something so embarrassing that even though nothing was ever officially said, you just know you're not welcome back.  It could be that you're the clumsy type, and how were you supposed to know that the tower of champagne glasses was for decoration and not part of the open bar? Perhaps you had a little too much to drink one night, then went around the room insisting on writing down everybody's New Years resolutions, even though it was mid-July.  Or maybe you're just like us, the worst kind of offender - you've got kids.

Our "Hall of Shame" location is the Paris Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.  We had to stay there once to collect on a shopping card offer that they sent us, so we decided that we would break our rule against staying on the strip with the kids.  Of course one of the reasons that we have for our "no strip" rule is that the hotels on the main drag have very little to entertain the kids with, so we were spending a large chunk of time at the pool.  My kids are all reasonably good swimmers, so as long as Lori and I are sitting pool side, we don't worry too much about anything going wrong.

The Paris pool is fairly plain and shallow, not ideal for kids.  Their one nod to the children is a supply of floating mats for the kids to cruise around on (Yes, I'm aware that these are really for the pretty girls in bikinis to float on in the pool, but it was early and I'd guess that most of Las Vegas was still trying to sleep off whatever they did the night before, so it became a plaything for my kids.) My girls love to float on these mats, and their brother is usually a nice guy and pushes them around the pool.  There is a time limit on his nice guy behavior though, and after a little while the game changes.  My son moves from being the gentle motor for their mats, to being a giant shark trying to knock them off their mats.  My older daughter is fine with this game, and will just roll back on the mat if she gets knocked off.  My younger daughter has a different reaction.

If you're a parent, you know the hidden meaning behind each one of your child's screams.  You know the "I'm in pain" scream, the "Help me I'm in trouble" scream, and the much more frequently heard "How could you do that to me? Don't you know who I am?" scream, otherwise known as the Diva scream.  When my daughter got knocked off her mat by her brother, Lori and I heard the Diva scream.

Unfortunately, the lifeguard heard a different scream.  When we heard the splash, Lori and I turned and saw our youngest daughter throwing a tantrum in the middle of the pool....and the fully clothed lifeguard swimming towards her.  In hindsight I can kind of see where the lifeguard would assess this as an emergency situation.  To the untrained ear the differences between the screams of "I can't catch my breath" and "Off with his head" are almost imperceptible.  The lifeguard was merely doing what all his years of training had taught him to do, and making his way as quickly as possible towards a floundering child.

Which was probably a lot easier before the floundering child noticed a fully clothed person swimming towards her.  My daughter, realizing that perhaps she had overdramatized the amount of injustice to which she had been subjected, stopped yelling at her brother, swam to the side of the pool, and climbed out, leaving the poor lifeguard standing in the middle of the pool, wringing out his shirt and wondering just which adults were going to claim responsibility for the child with the newfound Olympic swimming ability.  I looked around quickly for an escape route, but my daughter was already upon us, still complaining at full volume about the indignities that she had suffered.

We did our best to apologize to the lifeguard, who I must say was far more understanding than I might have been under the same circumstances, but the second that he disappeared in to the back room to get dried off we grabbed our stuff and abandoned the pool area.  The next day we changed hotels and moved over to the Rio, although we did tread lightly at that pool for the first little bit.  I've heard about the black lists that Vegas has for banned gamblers, and we were concerned that perhaps there was a pool version of this list, and that we were on it.  It took a couple of days, but eventually we were convinced that there were no "Wanted" posters with our faces on them, and we got back to enjoying the pool.  We've never taken the kids back to the Paris pool though, and I doubt that we ever will.  The only positive from the experience is that now, whenever I lose while gambling at the Paris casino, I can just chalk it up to some kind of cosmic balancing out of things and be OK with it.  Although, if that theory works, I'd love to know who my kids pissed off at Caesars Palace.


  1. That is hilarious. I can totally imagine the exact same thing happening with my little monsters.

    PS You are a fantastic writer Steve. Keep up the great blog!

  2. Awesome story...I'm sure you'll tell this story for many years to come:)

  3. Oh my word, this made me laugh so hard. I love the part where she just swims over and gets out of the pool. Priceless.

  4. Thanks for all the kind comments. We do call her our "Diva daughter" and she earns that title again and again.

  5. Great story, though I admit I thought something more along the lines of "Caddyshack" when I saw the title :)

  6. Funny you should mention that as I have a bowl full of Baby Ruth candy bars sitting beside me right now (Umm..left over from Halloween. Not an everyday snack for me.)

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