Mag’s Day at the Pool with Manhattan

I like to consider myself open-minded when it comes to dating, but with my recent lack of success I’ve had to lower my standards. So when NYC planned a date to a PUBLIC POOL, I tried not to judge. Hearing my mom telling the 5-year-old version of myself that we could NOT go to the public pool by our house in the Bronx because it was unsanitary didn’t help, though. That’s stuck with me…until Saturday.

Besides the obvious and understandable fears of crowds, annoying children and disease, there were other things worrying me. For one, this is the ultimate cheap date with NYC. I did my research and discovered that without food, this date would cost $2. Not something a girl wants to hear. I am not saying my date has to take me to Cipriani, but doesn’t he want to impress me at all?! I am looking for a guy who will be able to pay for meals and buy me presents. When the $2 date didn’t seem promising, I came close to canceling, but went with it remembering my new lower standards. Luckily, NYC has so many other amazing qualities, it seemed like it could be worth it.Photo courtesy of

We arrived and the park itself was actually quite beautiful. The grounds consisted of a community garden, a track, basketball courts, a roller skating rink and pools, of course. We opted for the smaller outdoor pool on this gorgeous and hot summer day. Although the indoor Olympic-sized pool was pretty impressive.

I could see how crowded the pool was as we approached, but tried to keep a smile on my face. I like NYC. I didn’t want to show my doubt. I didn’t want him to think I was a snob!

I laid out my towel on the grass (no lounge chairs folks, it was $2 remember?) and took in our surroundings. Luckily, most of the kids were in the pool, so you could relax lying in the grass. Plus, the pool is right on the Hudson River, so the views are pretty cool. I gave the pool a thorough once over before going in…the water was clear, the people all had swimsuits on, it seemed safe. So I got in.

It got a little bit more difficult to hide my fears at that point, as I began questioning how long it would take to see signs if I got sick from this pool or whether the kid that just spit in the water had hepatitis. New York laughed it off, and I did too, pretending I was actually really laid back. As we laughed, I began to relax. I was having fun. It was a strange activity, but it was fun nonetheless, plus I was out of the sticky heat. Every time someone bumped into me, I began to laugh, rather than cringe. Eventually the other people seemed to melt away into the background. In one of the most crowded cities in the world, somehow, NYC can do that.

Although I admit it wasn’t so bad, there was no way I could last for more than about two hours. We headed out of the park to get something to eat. My expectations were officially low; I was going with this whole down to earth, grunge thing. We wandered into a diner on 135th and Broadway called “Bus Stop Restaurant”. After a cheap grilled cheese, I felt completely satisfied. I was not expecting this to turn out so well. Maybe that is something I needed to learn about dating–have lower expectations. It seems like a somewhat depressing outlook, but I’ve learned that dating sometimes is.

Riverbank State Park: 679 Riverside Drive, New York, NY. (212) 694-3600

What I learned about travel: I may not become a regular at that pool, but it was a successful adventure and the perfect activity for broke people on a hot summer day. Two days later, I am alive and well!


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