I’m so glad summer is here. Everything seems to be in place – the pool is open, the rooftop garden is open (albeit slightly marred by the ongoing construction in the party room), the neighborhood is bustling with several new businesses that have opened. And while not as rainy as last year, there have been some beautiful lightning storms. A blackout swept much of South Arlington and Alexandria last night due to one of these. My friend and I were out running errands and went to Target since the lights were still on over there, but then we suddenly found ourselves standing in blackness for several seconds until the generators came on. My apartment building was completely pitch black – I could see people swinging flashlights everywhere – so we went to Old Arlington Grill, a small bar/restaurant operated by the adjacent Arlington Cinema ‘n’ Drafthouse. I had somehow never been in there before. It was the only bar that still had some lights on in the whole block, and we enjoyed some Sierra Nevada Summer Ale until the bartender said it was time to close up shop. I really liked that place; I gotta spend more time in it. I love where I live.
There is one thing that is missing from this summer, however: the dependable lifeguard with the Russian accent who manned our pool for at least the past two swimming seasons. Usually very laid-back, he greeted us with a slight nod every time we came in, and told us to get out of the pool with the same silent nod and an “out” hand gesture. But when someone annoyed him or broke a rule, a trademark scowl quickly appeared and he would saunter right over with a purpose. One time I took out a big brown plastic bottle of diet root beer and I could see him coming a mile away, checking to see if I was violating some anti-alcohol covenant. “What you drinking? You drinking beer?” he hissed. “No, it’s root beer,” I cheerfully explained, showing it to him with my biggest smile. He glared at the label for about ten seconds before mumbling, “Okay,” and strolling off. Another time, he lectured some little kids for roughhousing and breaking a pool toy, and when no one would admit to being the culprit, he stood there above them menacingly, puffing on his cancer stick and giving them the evil eye of doom. The lifeguards we have now seem to be too wussy to even keep the kids off the old high-dive platform, which has been off-limits for many years (much to my sadness) but which they run up on and fly off of constantly. MY lifeguard wouldn’t be having that. I saw him yell at someone for doing it once and they never did it again. Come back, friend! You had personality, and your cigarette-waving, grouchy lectures secretly made my day.