My Secret Pool Boy Shame (Not Really)

An underground club for breeders? I cruise it every Saturday. By Jennifer Lea Cohan

Jennifer Cohan

There is an underground club for breeders at 12th Street Gym. And I cruise it every Saturday.

Before we head over, we don Euro-style swim trunks, pack our bag with a pink-and-black zebra towel, and check my face in the mirror for varying degrees of haggardness before walking out the door.

When Jersey Boys was still open it was always a colorful walk. I loathed humanity as we dodged the folks “in from out of town,” the paunchy, confused men in mock turtlenecks and “dressy” leather jackets; Capri-smoking ladies with severe highlights yelling at their children in special-occasion dress. Now I kind of miss that sociological eye candy; the faces inside the Potbelly sandwich shop don’t really cut it for my dark soul.

When we arrive at 12th Street Gym, we sign in and head downstairs to our underground club, exchanging knowing smiles with the muscle queens. What do those muscle queens know? That I’m going downstairs to ruin the pool for the adults.

My son is taking swim lessons through the 12th Street Kids Club. Because really, what better time than the coldest, darkest months of winter to learn a skill that could be forgotten come June – or to head outdoors with wet hair?

The swimming teacher is super patient, a lovely man who keeps things from becoming a chlorine-tinged Lord of the Flies. I don’t know how he manages; if the roles were reversed, I’d be hung over from a Friday night out at Stir. While the boy learns to swim, I hang out with two Dads discussing “breedery” type things: schools, olden times when we were young and without responsibility. And while the pool is a bit of a steamy lair, the room has a nice new floor – although they missed an opportunity to install a full bar for desperate parents.

When class is over, I put the boy in his robe (I’m essentially his geisha) and we retreat to the lockers near the busy path to the steam room. After bundling up, we ascend to the club music and magic muscle boys and head straight to Tabu for beers. Okay, we don’t, but wouldn’t that be nice?

Jennifer Lea Cohan is professionally shallow, a lifestyle publicist focused on food and hospitality, design and events. She comes to Philadelphia by way of California (self-declared nuclear-free zone Santa Cruz) and New York, and resides in Center City with her husband and two children – one of whom is learning to swim.