Superlatives are words used to qualify the absolute top or bottom in quality or quantity. How we enjoy talking about the wealthiest man in the world, the thinnest tablet or the most crooked political leader!
I guess these words were invented to make us forget how common our ordinary lives can be.
As I was discussing superlatives with colleagues, it made me think of something that happened while I was still married.
My wife was born to drive a car. She just loved to take to the road. She used any excuse to jump into the car and travel aimlessly looking for something new to see.
On a nice sunny Sunday afternoon my wife and I decided to take a ride in the countryside.
My wife was at the wheel. Fields, groves and cattle were going by the left and right of the car. I was daydreaming, thinking how great life was and how wonderful it was to be alive.
We came to a village famous for its cheese curds factory and decided to stop and sample the local delicacy.
As soon as I mentioned it to my wife, she wanted to see it since it was only a few miles away.
We found the “swimming pool” at the end of an unnamed dirt road. The pool was made of three communicating stone basins at the foot of a large rock where a trickle of cold water was flowing from a spring. The bottom of each basin had been painted aquamarine to give the impression of an artificial swimming pool. All in all, the lagoon was much smaller in size than an olympic swimming pool.
It had been a hot summer with less than average rainfall. The stream was not a bubbly jet of water, just a slow dribble. The smallest basin was empty and the deepest contained nothing more than three feet of sticky water, green with algae proliferating under the warm sun.
This did not seem to bother the numerous children who were noisily splashing about in the water while their parents, slumped into lounging chairs around the pool, distractedly kept an eye on their progeny.
I told my wife this seemed to be the perfect place to catch a dermatosis that would make these poor kids’ skin tougher than the hide of Big Joe, the largest alligator of Florida that we had seen near Fort Myers.
At that moment, a man with a worn-out Elvis Presley T-shirt and sporting a dirty pair of khaki shorts with a dangerously open fly came to meet us.
— Welcome to our little paradise on Earth! Are you looking for a place to park your camping trailer?
— Erm... No, we just came to see the biggest swimming pool in the world, I said before being interrupted by my wife.
— Oh! There’s a campground? Can we see it?
— Yes, behind those trees, answered the man pointing towards a thinly-wooded area. I can give you a tour if you want.
— Oh! That would be delightful! Shall we go my darling? said my wife to me as she took the arm of our improvised guide.
Against my will I followed them through an underbrush planted with birch and aspen trees.
A lacing road was forming a loop of the campground. Trailers were parked along the road close to each other, most of them permanently. Some seemed to have been there for decades.
At the centre of the loop, a large porcelain urinal decorated with lights and plastic flowers was acting as a grotto for a statue of the Virgin Mary. The saint was standing in this makeshift shrine with her open arms, looking discouraged as if she declined any responsibility for the compound she found herself in.
Our guide was explaining the intricacies of camping to my wife as she obediently listened and asked questions from time to time. The man was so happy to have found an audience that he was rocking on his heels, a nervous tick that, to my dismay, was causing the broken fly of his shorts to open even more.
He then invited us for coffee in his trailer. My wife accepted although I was not keen on the invitation and we walked towards the fellow’s mobile home.
The trailer looked like our guide: common and unkempt. As the guy started to fight to open the jammed door, the broken fly zipper of his shorts gaped even more and, to my disgust, I saw “Elvis” leaving the building.
I had had enough. I took my wife by the arm, thanked our host and, pretending we had a long ride home we left this place where I had seen everything I wished I had never seen.
|Swimming pools have been popular since antiquity, the oldest one was found in Sindh, Pakistan. In England, public swimming pools appeared in the mid-19th century. However, nobody has ever boasted of having the emptiest swimming pool in the world.|