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FEAR AND LOAFING: Reporter takes plunge as a pool boy but barely skims surface


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Three words of advice if you don't want your boss noticing your job performance: wildly inappropriate attire.

Earlier, Las Vegas pool boy Todd Olcott warned me to seal the floater tight or the chlorine tablets would fall out and eat the finish at the bottom of the pool. But here I am, trying to spot three irresponsibly ejected tablets that are the last thing on Olcott's mind.

"No!" he yells as I try and fix the problem. "Whatever you do, do not bend over!" (Warning: Don't flip the page to see what I look like yet. Trust me, you need to build up to it.)

I tried listening to Olcott's pool-maintenance lesson. Really, I did. Five drops of phenol red in one water sample, then five drops of yellow stuff (OTO) in another. Then you read a color chart on the container to determine the acidity level. (If the result is too basic, as pools in the valley usually are, chlorine tablets must be added to the floater. They're acidic.)

Whatever. It was hard to concentrate because water wasn't the only thing I wanted to test today. Neither of the first two houses came with a horny housewife -- the kind that cheats on her husband with pool boys in the movies.

I'm happily married, so I'm not in the meaningless-sexual-encounter market. But it would be nice to be considered. The last time my albino lack of physique was checked out was ... never.

Olcott, 43, doesn't deny this fringe benefit. His current girlfriend began as one of his 60 clients.

"You kind of have to see what the situation is there for a bit," he explains, meaning that a scientific study must be conducted for the presence of husbandus furioso.

Olcott discovered that his client was going through a divorce. And (another plus) she was keeping the house, so their professional relationship could continue.

"She doesn't like the way I dress, though," Olcott said.

Long shorts and frumpy T-shirts are his standard uniform. (Being exposed to the sun is the part of the job he hates the most.)

While driving to our third house, Olcott reveals something about himself that seems much less stereotypical. He's a former news reporter for KNEWS-AM, 970. Before that, he deejayed on KYRK-FM, 97.1.

Olcott has had a more successful media run than me, and now he's cleaning pools. Is this fate's way of telling me something? Considering the state of journalism, I'm going to need to pick one of these trades soon enough.

"I was also making six dollars an hour," Olcott explains.

Pool boys don't do much better -- before tips. But Olcott owns Four Aces Pool And Spa, so he gets all the $50-plus per hour he charges customers (the part that doesn't go to Uncle Sam anyway).

The pool in the area of Rainbow Boulevard and Sahara Avenue sparkles.

"I like well-kept pools," Olcott says. "They're a welcome sight."

The welcome sight for me is Nikki Lee, a 20-something blond housewife. I can't say whether she's horny, but she does greet Olcott with a hug, and her husband is definitely not home. In addition, her equally hot friend, Jen, has stopped by for the afternoon.

Didn't I see this scene in an early-'80s coming-of-age movie by John Hughes?

I begin by skimming leaves and dead insects off the top of Lee's pool with my net. Olcott explains to his client what it is that I do for the R-J.

"Are you having fun so far?" she asks me.

Not as much fun as I have once I remove my shorts and T-shirt, secure in the knowledge that the $29.95 I paid for a knockoff Borat mankini on eBay three years ago has finally paid off.

Now this is how you dress to be a pool boy, I inform Olcott, who shields his face from the blinding whiteness.

Lee's vocabulary is instantaneously reduced to three words, repeated over and over: "Oh my God!"

She and Jen run into the house. Then they run back outside, just to make sure that what they originally ran away from was what they thought it was.

"Oh my God!" Jen agrees.

The back is worse, Olcott notes.

Instead of being admonished to fish out the corrosive chlorine tablets, I am commandeered by the ladies for group photographs -- the kind I should really worry about future employers finding on the Internet.

As Lee slinks her arm around Corat and says cheese, I inquire as to whether she feels tempted to cheat on her husband.

"No," she replies. "But Todd's gonna have to come over dressed like that next time or he doesn't get a tip."

Fear and Loafing runs on the first Sunday of every month in the Living section. Levitan's previous adventures can be found at

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