I had no intention of strolling so far down Memory Lane when I went back to my hometown to get my old bike from my parent’s shed. Then, suddenly, there he was. Between my old moon shoes (that still fit!) and my Skip-It (that still works!), there was the one who’d taught me how my body worked. The urgent fumbling, the desperate rocking, the underwater moonlit night—it all came rushing back to me. That orange pool noodle was my first love, and now, here he was, right in front of me, after all these years.
I remember vividly the day that I became a woman. June 25th, 2002—the day we met. I was wearing my favorite Old Navy tankini. I leapt from my porch into my above-ground pool and serendipitously landed on a shy, adorable pool noodle that my dad had picked up from Big Lots a few days before. The way my body fit his, my curves nestled effortlessly into his one long curve—it was ecstasy. So this is what all those love songs were about, I thought, eagerly rubbing my crotch into his noodly back.
This was my first pool noodle rendezvous, but it would not be my last.
The sensation I experienced while straddling Arnold (his name is Arnold) was unlike anything I had ever felt before. It was like peeing, but a good pee. Like my pee-hole was smiling. His scrubby foam smoothness against my pavement-skinned knees was like heaven. And it wasn’t just physical pleasure; Arnold was really there for me. We spent every day together that summer. He would listen to my arguments about why the Backstreet Boys were way better than *NSYNC while I aggressively rubbed him against my junk.
We used to do this thing where I would fill Arnold’s hole with water and then put my mouth around him and blow as hard as I could so that the water would explode out of the other side. It was so wild and illicit-feeling, which only made it hotter. Looking back, I think it shaped a lot of my sexual preferences. We couldn’t get enough of each other.
It was just the two of us that summer, and also whoever else was in the pool at the time. It was so easy. I knew we were young, but I whispered to him about prom night, and pool parties at college, and even building a pool of our own someday. Forever seemed so close, even when my mom made me get out of the pool for dinner, looking concerned.
No other person or inanimate object had ever made me feel that way nor has anybody or anything since.
My current boyfriend is fine. We met at college and have been dating for two years. He’s a kind man and cares deeply about me. The sex is…fine. It’s good enough for me. And we get along great. But nothing can really compare to your first love. Whenever I feel pangs of longing for Arnold, I remind myself that all that was kid stuff. Fantasy. When it comes to the long term, pre-teen flings can’t hold water.
Or so I thought. But there I was, holding a rake, feeling all those summer nights rush back to me all at once.
I didn’t know what to say, or where to start. “One last swim? For old times sake?” I joked to myself. But my body betrayed me. I was flushed, and my breathing came fast. I needed him—now. I reached out for him, but then I noticed that his orange color had faded over the years. Chunks of his foam were missing, he was covered in lawn clippings, and he was sort of permanently stuck in a curved position. Of course, time ages all of us, even pool noodles. This was not the past and it never would be. I marched right back out of that shed and texted my boyfriend that I loved him.
Although it was an emotional experience, I’m glad I ran into Arnold. I have nothing but fond memories and good things to say about him. He helped me develop into the woman I am today. And let me tell you, if I ever have trouble “getting there” during sex, all I have to do is imagine myself, back arched against the pool filter, all those years ago.