Saturday, August 05, 2006

Marco Polo

We’ve been going to the pool more, lately (discounting, of course, the chicken pox break). And every day there’s kids there, playing “Marco Polo,” the game where one kid has his or her eyes closed (sure they do) and the others help him or her along by answering “Polo” every time the one who is it (the voluntarily self-blinded one) says “Marco.”
Ah, good times.
Remember them? Remember cheating by going underwater? Or out of the pool? Or by not answering because the nominated “Marco” was getting too close and he’d listen for your panting breath like some Hitchcock thriller? It’s an inane game, and yet you’d try to “beat the system” because, really, the house (Marco) always wins.
All the kids except for the blinded one are moving backwards in order to keep an eye out for potential cheating and for last-minute evasive maneuvers. And they’re continually backing into innocent bystanders and their kids – the smarter innocent bystanders circulate in the lap lane. Let me tell you, I hadn’t noticed the obesity thing as much until recently. Some of those Polo-ists are bulky.
How, by the way, did that game develop? How does adding water to a game of “blind man’s buff” equal shouting the name of a Venetian explorer? Where’s the link? And if the one who is “it” is “Marco” why is he shouting his own first name only to hear his surname in response? Was he supposedly senile? Or an egomaniac? If I were a descendant of the Polo line (the Venetians, not the nasty Florentines or Ralph Laurentians), I’d sue.
It’s become automatic for me to expect a resounding “Polo” every time I hear some kid shout “Marco.” So it was quite a surprise today when I heard a kid shout “Marco” and nobody answered. I thought, “Oh, man. Poor kid. They told him they’d play and then all left him alone when his eyes were closed.”
But the kid kept shouting “Marco” at regular intervals and his eyes were open.
Finally he found his friend.
I think if my name were Marco I’d look for a nickname before I went to the pool. That kid must be going nuts when the games are in full swing.

It: Marco!
Marco: What?
Kids: Polo!
Marco: Oh.
Ca Capo al Pool Closing.

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