July 24, 2020
Many Americans would say that their favorite “watering hole” this summer is above-ground, in the backyard. While the heat ratchets up—and many community pools remain closed for the duration of the pandemic—the symbol for “better than nothing,” has become the inflatable pool
There are plastic pools for every size and breed—doggy pools, kiddy pools, and bigger ones that can fit a whole family—but many already are sold out nationwide, The Washington Post reports.
That was the situation that Aaron Kraus faced, the news outlet says, and his kids are now happily spending the summer splashing around in a pool made for dogs.
“We went on Amazon to look for kiddie pools, and they were sold out until, like, way into the fall,” Kraus, 37, of Rockville, Maryland said in an interview. “We told them it’s a doggie pool. They couldn’t care less.
Some pool-seekers have plunged into something more like farce. Jess Flynn, of Boise, Idaho, told the Post that she bought what she thought was a five-foot doggy pool on eBay. When it arrived, Flynn said, “I just kind of screamed, kind of laughed”: The pool was just large enough to fit a very small hamster.
Flynn said she might use it as a water bowl for her and her neighbor’s pets.
The same thing happened to Bill Ribas of Pittsford, New York —same product, same disappointment. Ribas says he was offered a full refund if he would pay to ship the pool back to China. Instead, he has reclaimed it as a foot bath.
Some of those who succeed in acquiring a dog- or even human-sized pool are finding that these inflatable substitutes can become a reminder of how much you miss the real thing.
Carla Green, 28, of Los Angeles, told the Post that it came down to “the balance between how good of a time I had and how much of a pain it is to inflate it,” adding,” And draining it is no simple task, either. When you fill a pool with that much water, it’s really heavy. You can’t just, like, dump it out.” She realized that the hard way when she temporarily flooded her backyard.
Robert Burke, 39, bought a large inflatable pool last summer for his backyard north of Pittsburgh, but his children barely used it because the water was too cold and the bottom got slimy. This summer, as the pandemic stripped away many other entertainment options, Burke saw an opportunity to really do it right.
Thus began a series of Amazon purchases, all side-eyed by his wife: hoses, a pump, a pool skimmer, a chlorine float, various chemicals and test strips, a WiFi-controlled timer for the filter, a weatherproof cabinet to house the pump, an underwater vacuum, valves, clamps and a custom pool cover. His $60 kiddie pool quickly turned into a $560 pool.
If kiddie pools are symbols of compromise, Burke’s project was a symbol of defiant resolve, reports the news outlet. “I’ll always think of it as, like, this manic dumping ground for all the things I wished I was doing,” he said. “And really what we’re talking about is a bunch of water that two kids pee in.” (As for his children: “When they’re in it, they love it,” Burke said, but given that they have the attention spans of a 2- and 4-year-old, they will often climb out and make a beeline for the swings instead.)
“To work all day and just get out of the stale air conditioning and into this nice body of water with my little cocktail and just sit there for 45 minutes and relax,” said Heather Hart, 43, of Minneapolis. “It was lovely. Totally worth $124.” (Even though her dogs are scared of it, and it’s killing some of her grass.)
Makisha Thompson, 46, of Stockbridge, Georgia, was brainstorming with six friends about safe, socially distanced ways to see each other. They realized they could each get their own inflatable pool for $22. “We literally went from Aldi to Aldi,” she said, referring to the supermarket chain, “looking for these pools until we had enough.”
It took hours to fill them all up. The women then separated the pools with tiki torches and arranged them in a circle around a giant watermelon-shaped sprinkler Thompson found at Walmart. Then they settled in for a sunny afternoon drinking boozy punch.
Happiness reigned supreme. “We call ourselves the little backyard beauties,” Thompson said.
Research contact: @washingtonpost