Whirlygig: 87: Out on the Town

Coney Island looks on an Abercrombie model in the making

Whatever that vitamin is that we get from the sun, I admit I need it. There's nothing better in my book than a robin-egg blue sky and blazing sunshine. Of course what you need to go with it is another matter, and since it's mid-July it's about time I go looking for it.

So far this summer the only real sun that I've been catching is during lawn care. While it does serve a dual purpose of getting the work done and catching a few rays (if I do it in my bikini), it doesn't really fill my tank up as relaxing. Plus my feet are white from wearing sneakers so I don't cut off my toes.

And my new neighbor is still stalking me whenever I step out the door with inane attempts at conversation while he drools on himself. He must be hard up for entertainment, as he suggested we sit out on my patio and drink a few beers together. I assured him I'm not home much and suggested he sit on his patio with his own wife soon.

Yes, it's time for a pool and the smell of Coppertone — or at least coconuts.

I coax my buddies Joanne and Carol to head out to Coney Island Friday afternoon. I figure that the crowds might not be too bad and the sales managers we all work for wouldn't be looking for us all that intently.

We manage to find chairs in the grass as far away from the families parked poolside as we can manage. Joanne brings out the highest sunscreen protection known to man to protect her pale skin, noting that in Japan it's considered chic to be as white-skinned as possible.

"To hell with that," Carol says. "I'm from California, and we like the skin baked and brown."

Oh, the aroma of her Hawaiian Tropics oil floats my way and I'm only wishing my Diet Coke were laced with a Jamaican rum and a slice of lime. Of course I wouldn't turn down a Pina Colada with an umbrella or a pool boy to put lotion on my back, but actually I'm quite content to settle into my light reading of the latest fashion magazines while Carol tells Joanne all about her sizzling romance with Tom.

Turns out that Tom and Carol are heating up the sheets along with other choice locales; she entertains us with the story of doing it on the deck. Practical as I am, it occurs to me that splinters could have made that a treacherous experience. She assures me he has great patio furniture complete with soft cushions he ever so graciously threw on the deck as he took her down for a round of summer fun.

Joanne and I love the details, but between the conversation and the sun high in the sky we decide to seek water. It feels delightful in the shallow end, and I end up playing with a toddler or two just to bring myself back to reality.

It occurs to me that this is the life. I wonder why I waited so long to hit a pool when a boy of about 10 plows into me and knocks my feet out from under me. The whistle blows. The lifeguard, who resembles an Abercrombie ad, makes his way over to me. I assure him I'm fine and won't melt under water. I then quickly assure myself that he's jailbait. I had forgotten how great blue eyes look with a deep dark tan — especially under long tousled curls.

We stay until about 5 soaking up the sun and improving our lawn position to perfection as the families pack up and go home. We agree that tattoos and body piercing are sexy in theory but in reality seldom work wonders on those who sport them. Our personal favorite are the guys with the barbed wire on the upper arm that isn't nearly as rock hard as it needs to be. I leave wondering how the girls with the huge sun tattooed on their backside are going to look when they're 35 and toting around kids instead of belly button rings.

On Saturday my good fortune continues when my rollerblading buddy Mike offers up the pool at the Cincinnati Sports Mall. He admits he hasn't been there yet as he's been working way too much himself, which makes me feel better about my own summer.

Unfortunately my pool bag isn't in my car and miles from the Loveland Bike Trail where we began our adventure, so I vow to meet him there after I duck into a store to buy a swimsuit. He offers to grab towels, so I'm left only with the expense of a marked-down suit at TJ Maxx that will work, though my cleavage is pronounced in the modest tankini. Oh, well. I'm in the market for my own version of Carol's Tom.

Mike seems to know everyone at the pool, though we both agree there are more families than singles these days at the Sports Mall complex. He enjoys running into his ex-girlfriend since I'm sporting the butt-crack cleavage in my two-minute purchased bathing suit. He conveniently leaves out the "old friend" part of the introduction and instead has an evil grin when she frowns as she walks away from our chaises. I tell him he can quit the cozy act and get back on his own chaise pronto as we really are just pals and exercise junkies. Still I smile, because I never liked her all that well and even less since she broke Mike's heart.

I find myself wishing that Mike would find romance again just like Tom and Carol. He resists my nudging toward the redhead at the snack bar and instead settles into his Sports Illustrated. It doesn't convince him when the point is made that romance isn't knocking down his door in Mount Lookout. He shrugs it off and is convinced fate will lead him to his next relationship while I'm tempted to scream and shout.

Instead I roll over to tan the backside, thinking perhaps I should put more effort toward my own love life. Yeah, I should. For now I'm content to have the golden tan of a couple of days in the sun and friends who have pool memberships.

— Wendy Robinson

Clearing Away the Dust
Last weekend was the last of artist Mark Fox's Dust installation at the Cincinnati Art Museum (CAM). I'd heard good things about it and had read numerous articles about him in local papers. Plus I'd snapped a photo of him one Halloween at a party when he was dressed as a Vegas showgirl. Needless to say, I was excited to see the art.

After getting lost in the museum's new Cincinnati Wing, I found my way and happened upon the end of "Nutzilla," Fox's video of a giant Mr. Peanut descending on the CAM. Mr. Peanut crashes his hand through the roof of the museum and picks out copies of actual art and uses them to stir his coffee and wipe his mouth. It's freaking hysterical.

Other pieces included a huge gathering of drawings Fox had done of his possessions affixed meticulously to a wall. It was interesting, now that I think of it, how that work mirrored a video of his on the opposite wall of a spider kicking tiny drawings out of its web.

Finally, about to walk through to the next room, I was stopped by an arch over the doorway made entirely of dust and particles Fox had swept up from his studio floor. I love art that makes you think and realize there was feeling put into it. Much contemporary art makes me think the artist is bored, humiliating the audience or distancing themselves. I didn't feel that way with this exhibit. It obviously took some time and emotional investment to draw each possession and to make such involved videos.

After that I had lunch at Inn the Wood. Our waitress noticed my CAM gift shop bag and said she needed to get over there soon to see the new wing. I was very encouraging.

I'd heard that the University of Cincinnati is snatching up land around the school and plans to make it a mall food-court-type atmosphere. I hope Inn the Wood doesn't get destroyed. It was so refreshing as a student to go to a real restaurant instead of Taco Bell or Burger King. Don't get me wrong — I was the Burger Queen, but real food is good too.

Later that evening, I headed to the Northside Tavern to see Pearlene and was lucky to catch the opening band with a female singer. Both bands were good and made me wish I could see them better but not hear them quite as much. Whenever I go there everyone, and I mean everyone, complains about the noise level. And we aren't old fogies yet, so you know there's a problem.

I ran into my friend Tonya and her new man Jack out on the patio. The two make a cute couple, but Jack tends to rattle on about things well after you've lost interest, fallen into a coma and slid off your chair. Even with Tonya trying to shut him up, he still went on and I felt my metabolism slowing down.

I excused myself from them and found Kristine, Chip, Guy and Katrina inside. Since there weren't enough seats at the table, three of us shared two chairs. Someone spotted the girl Roz (our English friend) had drunkenly rendezvoued with a couple weeks ago. Kristine was taking stabs at the girl. It was true. She did look like a train wreck, but the subject was changed when Katrina (also British) told us some news.

Her father, a business man, had introduced her to a young Brazilian guy whom he asked her to entertain. Of course this prompted noises from the rest of the table. Katrina protested that, although the first night they hung out he overzealously stuck his tongue in her mouth, she wasn't interested. It reminded me of a Brazilian guy I briefly dated who was also long of tongue. For some reason, he thought it erotic to try and suck mine out of my head.

The girls at the table tried to convince her to take advantage of some hot Latin lovin', especially since she was in a month-long dry spell. But Katrina's morals were intact.

A foosball game ensued, as there was some unfinished business over the last time Kristine and I'd played.

"No spitting!" she yelled over the music.

"Who's spitting?" I yelled back.

"No! No spinning!" she said.

With four of us on the table, it was a lot easier to smoke and drink a beer, but I still managed to lose half of the games. Guy was good on the offensive end. And as I learned that evening, he had an unoffensive new possession — a motorcycle. Also experiencing a dry spell, Guy was in need of a lady. As Kristine and I pointed out, the bike was a guarantee. I guess it's the danger element or maybe the knight in shiny leather on his chrome horse. Whatever it is, it turns women into melting fools.

Chip told me my ex, Big D, was sitting at the bar.

"What's he doing, praying?" I said.

One of the reasons Big D and I split was because he was prone to converting to Christianity. Not that I have anything against it, but he has this happen on a regular basis. It was like he heard the word of God and then, oops, forgot it. Then he'd hear it all over again. Other reasons we broke up include his having a kid and the kid's mother, a girl in love with the Lord and in hate with any other female. Big D happened to walk over to say "Hi" during a foosball game. I wondered what side of the spiritual fence he was riding at the moment.

It was time for me to ride on home, but not before I made Guy promise me a ride on his bike. Well, I am still a girl.

— Ilsa Venturini

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