The Jack Evans Porpoise Pools
You find Grandpa on your way to Snapper Rocks limping along the beachfront looking sorry for himself and strike up a conversation once you reach the porpoise pool. But he’s not convinced he should be here listening to this stranger full of fantastical tales and unwanted relationship advice.
“You know, finding the right woman is the biggest single factor that will determine your entire future happiness,” you start up keenly.
Grandpa regards you suspiciously.
“You think you and that young lady have got a future together you’d be crazy not to pursue it. Kids, grandkids, Christmases round the tree, family holidays in those old flats – think of all the joy and good times that could spring from that one romance if you just give it a try.”
“What young lady?” Grandpa asks.
You describe her for him, hoping against hope that you’re right and he’s spotted her around, even though you haven’t seen them together. A wistful look passes across Grandpa’s face and you know you guessed right. You’ve got Grandpa thinking now, as if somewhere deep in his DNA he understands you’re speaking some brand of crazy truth.
“What, you’re a fortune teller now?” he scoffs, before sighing heavily. “I’ve never had much success with the ladies anyhow. Never know what to say.”
Really? Grandpa has spent the past few decades convincing anyone who’ll listen what a chick magnet he was back in the day, how he was beating them off with a stick and Grandma was lucky to work her way to the front of the queue to land him. What a phony! He’s as nervous as a lamb.
“It’s all about confidence,” you coach. “You’ve got to exude an aura that you’ve got it all going on.”
“Got what going on?” Grandpa asks, puzzled.
“It ALL! The Vibe! Your groove train!” you almost shout, so that passersby turn to stare, while Grandpa gapes at you open-mouthed.
“Okay, look, just try it. Do as I say. Imagine you’ve just scored the winning goal in a football grand final and you’re a hero to the nation. Close your eyes and really imagine it happening.”
Grandpa, always a keen footy fan, obeys. You had the inside running on that one, knowing Grandpa would fall for that old footy fantasy. Now you find yourself channeling a bit of Ron Rico.
“Okay, when I click my fingers and you open your eyes you can do no wrong. Try talking to any woman and they will find you instantly attractive.” You click your fingers, Grandpa opens his eyes and his gaze immediately falls upon a young woman strolling by.
“Excuse me ma’am,” he croons smoothly.
You’re impressed, he’s a quick learner. Or you’re a budding hypnotist.
“Would you care for some company on your stroll? It’s such a beautiful day and a shame for either of us to spend it alone.”
The woman looks him up and down warily as he smiles with a simple innocence. “Why not?” she replies and the pair fall into step in animated conversation.
Grandpa begins regaling her with the story of the porpoise pools, how old Sharky Jack ran the ocean baths here and those wags the Boyd brothers, local fishermen, accidently netted a pair of dolphin on their morning fishing trip and placed them in Jack’s pool as a gag. How Jack soon realized more people were coming to see the dolphins than had ever come for the swimming, and an accidental tourist attraction was born. You’ve heard it a million times yourself, still have no idea if it’s true, but this young lady’s hanging on his every word as if Grandpa’s revealing the mysteries of the universe.
You’re just starting to congratulate yourself on your splendid coaching when you hear Sharky Jack’s dulcet tones crackling over the loudspeaker and realize the dolphin show is starting. Grandpa’s showing no signs of treating this as a training drill, but rather as the main game. You can feel your essence fading. Desperate, you try and intercede.
“Look, Grandpa, I mean, mate, the show’s about to start and aren’t you supposed to be meeting someone important there.” You wink suggestively.
He looks at you blankly and stage whispers, “I think I’m on a winner here, back off.” Then more loudly, he declares, “Sorry, pal, do we know each other? The lady and I are enjoying a private conversation if you don’t mind.”
You glance over your shoulder at proceedings at the porpoise pool. Sharky Jack’s calling for volunteers, Grandma’s getting called out, she’s getting on the diving board!
“Grandpa, you’ve got to go, your destiny awaits,” you urge.
He’s getting annoyed now and his new friend is regarding you like an escaped criminal. You don’t even need to look, you can hear Sharky Jack’s commentary and know what’s coming. The cheers of the crowd, the leaping dolphin, the splash and shriek as Grandma falls in the pool. The alarmed oohs and aahs of the crowd. And then another, louder splash.
“How about that ladies and gentleman. One of Uncle Sam’s finest coming to the aid of the damsel in distress. What a credit to the uniform,” Jack announces grandly.
It hits you like a sledgehammer. You’ve failed. You feel yourself fading, like an aspirin dissolving in water. Then, PUFF, you’re gone.