Last night a friend of a friend invited us swimming at a private pond in a Boston exurb.
Part of me felt suspicious of the place. Something about the feeling of “this is something rich people do” and the knowledge that the adults chatting in deck chairs were doctors and professors made me almost allergic. I could feel my inner college-era socialist getting her hackles up.
But the more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t find anything wrong with it. I think it boiled down to: the things there were actually enjoyable at a basic level, not just good for signaling superiority over other people.
I would like every child on Earth to have the chance to spend hot July evenings swimming at a place like this. I understand that paying lifeguards and maintaining bathrooms costs money, and that there needs to be some public or private way to cover those costs. But it’s not so expensive that realistically more communities couldn’t provide this.
Looking into it more, that’s perhaps the problem. The pond is members-only, but the website doesn’t explain how to become a member, and a review notes that there’s a waiting list. Possibly you have to know somebody. That explains why it was so uncrowded on Sunday evening.
The approach I prefer is public beaches like Sandy Beach in Winchester, maintained as a state park. Because it’s open to the public, it fits my sensibilities more: on hot nights it’s crowded with families from all over the surrounding cities, playing Brazilian music and barbecuing. The main improvement would be if it were on public transit.
A lot of stuff I associate with fancy / rich people is wasteful because a lot of the resources are going to arms-race type spending to get ahead of the others. But some things, like a place to swim, would just be good to have more of. I would love to see more areas like this available, either through paid membership for people who want to pay for less crowding, or public beaches for people like me who don’t mind.