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Meredith’s Musings: Larry and His Leak

By Melanie Moffett
In Center Block
May 26th, 2015


Just In Time For Father’s Day
by Meredith McKinnie

So, one of the things my parents did for us that I’ve always been grateful for was the 18 x 36 in-ground pool dug in September of 1997, my sophomore year of high school. I always referred to it as the consolation prize, having just been uprooted from Ouachita Junior High, a class of several hundred and dragged to what I deemed “the boonies” of Sterlington, with a mere graduating class of 32. I’m convinced Dad had the pool started in September, so Bonnie and I could salivate for eight months waiting until the water would be warm enough to swim. I say Bonnie and I, as if she ever had any interest in the thing. She never was out there for more than ten minutes, as she has the attention span of a goldfish. Essentially, it was/is mine and Mom’s oasis. I would literally wake up in the summer, get into my suit, walk down the stairs and dive right in. Mom would join me for the first few hours, usually with her latest book of the day, proceeding to give me a 15 minute synopsis of the ins and outs of the plot. I just didn’t have the heart to let her in on the extent to which I didn’t care. I would float on my raft, covered in baby oil and iodine (yep, works like a charm), feign interest in the latest crime novel and count down the minutes to Lorraine’s departure, where I could find that special corner of the pool where no one could see me through the endless windows at the back of the house and submerge myself in my own literary goodness (something of value and not a “who dun it”) all the while not having to leave the coolness of the water….such were my summers.

So, back to Larry, and inevitably, his leak. 15 years later, having been through 3 liners and countless hours of battles with chemicals and pumps and chlorine, we have a leak. And this is no ordinary leak. It’s extensive. Dad has calculated that we are losing close to 500 gallons per 12 hr period, a good inch leak every night. This has been going on for a month now. Most people would simply call a guy. Not Larry. He will “save that $200; thank you very much,” though my math calculations have the water bill running a minimum $180 after this whole debacle. He is convinced he is a pool expert, having owned one now for 17 years. He is the mastermind, and he has deemed me his protégé, meaning I do all the legwork under water, as he can no longer hold his breath for extended periods. Apparently, the youthful damage to my lungs is no match for his 45 inch waistline.

Finding the Leak: Larry’s first method was plugging all the jets, and simply finding the plugs was an act of Congress, but we did. And we plugged. And it still leaked. Check, it wasn’t the jets. Next option, the pool light. After swimming under, determining the light was held in place by only one screw and the 12 others were for looks (underwater?), and explaining to Mom (the gopher) that no, the Phillips-head screwdriver is not the flat one, out came the light. Now the plug, which Dad had had to drive to West Monroe to get because the people at one pool place didn’t have it and still the other place had one that was too big to plug the hole. Fret not. Larry would just file that thing down, and we would be back in business. Except that in the act of filing, it slipped and was forever lost in the abyss that is my dad’s shop. And it only took us three sweaty “flashlight in hand/on our knees” hours to come to that conclusion.

The Internet: As my Dad just came home two years ago claiming to have discovered Google, the “greatest thing ever,” you can imagine his Internet knowledge is slim. He doesn’t have a cell phone. And I’m stupid for cradling mine like a newborn baby, but when he just has to know Brittney Griner’s exact height and date of birth to impress Mom, because she has already forgotten, suddenly the smart phone is invaluable. Long story short, we order a new plug, but it won’t arrive until Tuesday. And within ten minutes, I’m back in the pool shoving a rag into the quarter inch hole with the same flat-head screwdriver Mom still refers to as the Philips-head.

Fast forward to last night, having just finished three aerobics classes, imagine my luck when I pull up to Dad surrounded by a tree he’s decided to cut for next year’s firewood. I could barely see his head on his 5’4” frame peeking out amidst the branches and logs. Four wheelbarrow loads later, he says he is almost finished with me. He just needs me to get on my suit and bring the Saran Wrap out to the pool. One does not question Larry. One just follows orders. After countless trips to the bottom of the ten foot pool, my lungs showing their weakness, and Dad questioning how exactly the Saran Wrap acts against the drain, and then explaining to Larry that no, my smart phone will not video underwater so he can get a clearer view, we determine it’s probably not the drain leaking.

But probably is never good enough, as I found out this morning. Dad has a new plan. He needs me to go pick up red food coloring and locate Mom’s cake icing decorator. The words, “Don’t worry, Meredith. I saw this on Youtube,” did not put me at ease. I’m worried for his sanity. As I will not be returning until later this evening, I fear I will walk up on Dad in full scuba gear at the bottom of the pool (pause to picture that…ain’t it grand?) with Saran Wrap and red food coloring, which Mom will inevitably mistake for blood and have the paramedics hauling a water-logged Larry to the surface before he has finished the job. I’m serious, folks. I bet right this very minute he is hounding some poor Wal-Mart worker, and believe me he will look until he finds one, for the Equate brand of food coloring, because it can’t possibly be this much to make a red velvet cake red. Fingers crossed, we find the leak by Father’s Day. It would be the best gift ever and much more valuable than the Gallagher tickets he’s getting, because nothing is funnier to Dad than flying watermelons.