Park Lane East
Steve called me sophomore year in college and asked if I wanted to lifeguard with him the coming summer even though I had no training. Soon after I was shooshing Timmy as he said, “He’s not Steve,” to the state inspector who was saying, “The pH is excellent Steve, you’re doing a great job!”
I was known to Timmy and the other kids as Boss Kahuna and once in a while wore the black top hat that was inexplicably on the lifeguard stand one morning when I opened up. And there were days when Bob invited me to his and Saundra’s apartment to comingle with the smells of incense and float amidst the East Indian quilts adorning the walls and ceilings. I went through the rabbit hole and back to the pool and could somehow keep my focus. I was flying on the astral plane while swimming in the glorified bathtub known as the Park Lane East pool.
Only once in three years did anyone need to be saved. And just about when my mouth opened in notice that Danny had gone down and not come up, a nearby adult grabbed him automatically and lifted him up.
I remember Clyde who was a balding forty and seemed to be the only one that noticed my visits to a teacher’s apartment who was about ten years older than me. I nonchalantly returned and
sidestepped his questions just like I had learned to strategize in sports. “Vicky’s adding fabric to a pair of Levi’s – turning them to bellbottoms,” I told him (which was true).
And I also learned that lies can come back to bite you when I made up a whopper about an uncle having a heart attack in Connecticut and having to go there from Philly to run his business while he recuperated…when I was really going to Woodstock. And how improbably was it when I became a cabana boy in the Borsht Belt after Woodstock, a job gotten for me by Steve’s twin brother Alan, that someone from Park Lane East would go there on vacation and tell my boss?
I was both attracted and repelled by the hippie movement but Woodstock nudged me to join up. The next thing I know I was dropping out of dental school and joining a hippie commune, which then propelled me to hitchhike west. And I’m still here. So even though a lie began a chain reaction that has defined the rest of my life…I sure make it a point to tell the truth.