The lazy, disturbingly hazy, river

January 4, 2015

I’m coming to you from a water park somewhere in the Midwest. It doesn’t matter exactly where because I imagine the same scene could unfold all across America.

I feel like I need to set the stage by announcing that I am by no means a germaphobe. In fact, I just returned a basket of french fries because I found a hair resting ever so gently on top of one. I had already eaten about a fourth of the basket by that point. Instead of complaining to the vendor about how disgusting and unsanitary it was, I just swapped it out for a new basket…no questions asked.

Yep, the writer behind Maternal Media is super gross. And she loves french fries. Preferably hairless ones.

Now that we’re all on the same page with how low my cleanliness standards are, picture this if you will: I am elbow-to-elbow with a boatload of other families in January in Nebraska doing what we do to entertain our kids. Our options are limited with wind chill temperatures averaging between negative 20-30 degrees below zero.

My son, along with a group of his friends, and his sister (whom he considers a friend about half the time) are splashing, sliding, and laughing. He’s celebrating turning another year older, but not necessarily wiser by what I just witnessed.

The group of hyped-up kids just ran up to me to announce they couldn’t go into the lazy river anymore because a kid threw up in it. I looked at the river and, sure enough, it was now empty with all entry points blocked off by caution cones.

Hhaaaaappyy Biirrrrthday ttoooo yyoooouu. BLUUGH!

It was all I could do to just lean back in my chair (strategically chosen in close proximity to the bar) and look up at the twinkling lights above me in order to regain control over my own stomach.

Calgon (and chlorine) take me away.

Calgon (and chlorine) take me away.

After they made the big announcement, the kids returned to the water wonderland (sans river) completely unscathed by the circumstances. I figured, as long as they were good, so was I.

No more than 20 minutes later, I looked up to see small patches of swimmers circling the river and, with each subsequent lap, the patches multiplied. I thought to myself, It must have been a rumor that they closed the lazy river because of kid puke. There was obviously some other issue that caused the temporary shut-down. Whew!

I decided to approach my good friend, the bartender, and tell him what my son had told me.

Our conversation went something like this:

Me (nervous laughter): I don’t need anything other than to ask you a question.

Him: Yeah, what’s that?

Me: My son and his friends told me they shut down the lazy river because a kid threw up in it.

Him: (Nothing in reply…just a blank stare.)

Me: But I see it’s now open again. They couldn’t re-open it if someone actually yacked in it, right?

Him: Yeeaaahh, I mean, they could. I mean, they aren’t going to shut it down permanently with all these people here if only a small part needed to be cleaned up.

Me: (Nothing in reply…just a blank stare.)

Him: I hadn’t personally heard that that happened…so I really don’t know what’s going on.

Me: Ok thanks.

I returned to my chair and reminded myself that chlorine was invented for a reason. No one else seemed to care that some child’s gastrointestinal juices were magically removed from the lazy, disturbingly hazy, river. I learned they have a protocol for taking care of situations like these. The more you know, right?

The party was deemed a success by both my son and his friends.

Yet I can’t let it entirely go without asking…has anyone who’s reading this post actually worked at a public pool or water park? Can chlorine solve all? Well, all but the imagery/queasiness I can’t seem to shake from my system?

Written by Heidi Woodard

10 responses to The lazy, disturbingly hazy, river


    Several things working here. One, that I throw up at parties all the time, and those never get shut down. I’m simply confined to a closet for the rest of the evening until the other guests depart.

    More to the point, pool chemicals can do a great deal in defusing liquid violators such as pee, and even blood. Vomit and poop however, as solids can only be minimized so much, but I do believe the chemicals help.

    Don’t believe me…? Watch this PSA from Bill Murray…


    I use to be lifeguard and these things…if not worse, happen A LOT. I would imagine they cleaned it out best they could…maybe added a little shock treatment. 20 minutes doesn’t seem quite long enough, but I think you can re-enter a pool 30 minutes after it has been shocked…but I am not expert. Still GROSS!


      It may have been longer than 20 minutes but, to me, any amount of time would have been too quick to reopen it. Ha! Also, doesn’t the term “shock treatment” seem weird too? Especially when used to describe a process involving a body of water? Thanks for your expert feedback. As a former lifeguard, at least you had experience in dealing with this kind of stuff. I was honestly curious!


    The Y shuts down their pool if anyone has bodily fluids that went into it. People’s whole bodies are in the pool though. It kind of yacks me out that they don’t stop and clean something like that up.


    Another reason to live somewhere warm and have your own pool! Wow, you painted a truly vivid picture there!


      Well, now you’re just making me extremely jealous. I have often thought I should have had my babies in the summertime! Slip n slides seem so much better in hindsight. Thanks for the comment. 🙂


    Ooooh gross! We had the stomach bug over break. I’d be more worried about the germs floating in the air/water and getting that bug. It was awful. Laid me out for 3 days.


      I’ve heard the crap that’s going around is AWFUL. So many people have been hit by the flu or some other miserable bug. Perhaps by floating around in petri dish water, their mini immune systems became more germ resistant?! Wishful thinking is all I got at this point.