No, no – not the kiddie kind that you buy for $49 at Wal-Mart on a hot summer day and then buy another one at Wal-Mart for $49 the following week because you filled the thing over the tiniest of pebbles in your backyard, which subsequently torn a whole in the bottom of your new pool roughly the size of London because the kind of swimming pools one can purchase at Wal-Mart for $49 are primarily made out of saran wrap.

I’m talking more along the lines of real pools, like what you would expect to find at a hotel or apartment complex or even in most hoity-toity, gated communities these days. You know – deep enough to almost go over your head unless you stand on your tippy-toes, “No Diving!” even though everybody does it anyways, despite the fact that they know that it’s only deep enough to almost go over their heads while standing on their tippy-toes and that given the amount of force they’ll exert when diving into said pool, it’s almost certain that they’ll end up hitting their heads on the bottom, later suing the hotel or apartment complex because clearly the “No Diving!” sign wasn’t big enough, or preferably even read out loud to them just moments before taking that ignorant, brain-rattling plunge. The things are a dime a dozen these days – I think I got a coupon for one in my box of cereal this morning, so I suppose it was only a matter of time before my fear surfaced again like a majestic beluga up for a breath of fresh air.

I don’t know what it is, but I find myself having a very love-hate relationship with devices that hold large quantities of chlorinated water because of this hang-up. It’s like the moment I see that water line dipping below normal, suddenly it’s 1993 all over again and I’m on the edge of my seat, wondering if Jesse is going to be able to get Willy to freedom before the bad guys with spear guns show up … because yes, my entire dilemma stems from watching Free Willy as a thirteen year-old boy and the subsequent trauma that has followed! And sure, our local community pool is considerably smaller than Willy’s massive 5-million gallon tank (and also much warmer!), so you might argue that the chances of walking down in my bathing suit to find Shamu fins up in our half-empty pool is somewhat slim-to-none, but you try telling that to my inner child and I can tell you from experience that he’s a very bad listener!

I think what’s even worse yet is that both this and the last apartment that I lived in just so happened to feature workout rooms that looked out onto the pool area, so whenever I see the slightest flash out of the corner of my eye while walking on the treadmill or pretending to know how to use one of the weight machines, in my mind all I see is that jerk with the torch who broke some of the bolts off of Willy’s tank and started the whole cherade of trying to move a 3-ton killer whale from here to anywhere! You can imagine how much actual exercise I get done during periods when they’ve got the pool drained for maintenance … well, actually I can understand how it might be difficult imagining me exercising at all, so let me just say that even far less ends up getting accomplished when I’ve got the proverbial weight of an orca’s well-being on my shoulders…

Unfortunately, as far as I can tell there is no real solution to particular predicament of mine, for pools tend to get rather icky smelling if they’re not cleaned on a regular basis and my ability to go back in time to prevent Willy from ever being placed into harms way in the first place in that fictional tale is probably quite limited as well, and besides, just think of all of the horrendous, free him again-based sequels that I’d be depriving the world of if I were to accomplish such a feat! I mean, I think right now they’re even working on Free Willy 2027: Whales in Space – I simply couldn’t knowingly put those hard-working idiots out of work even to save myself a meager phobia such as this.

My only other option, really, is simply to steer clear of the local swimming hole during maintenance season and hope that somebody else will step up to keep an eye out for evil-doers with regards to the plights of captive marine life are concerned. Where’s Michael Jackson when you need him?!