I am a fan of lakes. Proper lakes, of course. Let me be clear: reservoirs are NOT LAKES. They are man-made dirt holes filled with filthy stagnant water that are closed most of the summer from fecal contamination. They might be slightly more interesting to look at than the dirt hole with no water in it, but not by much. Reservoirs are a depressing water experience. No shade, no beach, just a nasty boring toilet bowl with Joe Jet Ski getting a mouthful of e.coli every time he wipes out on his buzz bomb.

Proper lakes are also not ponds. Ponds are usually green, small, weedy, and may or may not contain leeches or alligators or crappies. Ponds are often known as “the ol’ swimmin’ hole,” if you are a toothless hillbilly, or to be PC, a “dentally-challenged societally-oppressed rural dweller.” You have to be a little more brave to venture into a pond, like totally willing to emerge covered in algae and snapping turtles.

Rivers and streams are not lakes; they are smaller, generally, and go in a line. I also really like rivers and streams, but primarily just to float paper-and-twig boats down them. I like really really really tiny streams that I can dam up with rocks and cause a miniature ecological disaster. With rivers and streams, you must beware rocks and currents. The worst would be if you were pulled away by a current, then got smashed on some rocks. Actually, even worse than that would be if you discovered you were actually immersed in a sewer runoff.

Oceans, gulfs, and seas are also good. They have better beaches, and shells, make better noise, and have fun waves. However, they annoy the eyes with salt, are far too deep, and contain animals that might sting or consume you. I like the vastness of these bodies of water; they are calming to look at, or awesome in that old-style awesome way like WOW, but in the end they are not as friendly as lakes. They also can do the hurricane/tsunami thing, which is downright testy of them.

Fuck swamps.

Lakes, good, decent, reasonable lakes, should be of a large size, but never so big that you cannot get into shore quickly when a thunderstorm comes up. They should have an irregular rounded shape, and may be connected to the aforementioned rivers or streams. They should contain fish and plants, but not too many weeds. If you step on the lake bottom, you should not go up to your hips in silt. They should have lots and lots of big trees around them. The water should be clear and a bit chilly. A good lake has at least a couple of good swimming beaches, and a really good lake should have an island in the middle of it with no one living on it. Lakes should smell fresh and watery and not too too much like dead frogs. Everyone on the lake should follow Lake Etiquette: don’t bother the fishermen, don’t run over the swimmers with your motorized lake vehicle, try not to pee in the lake near other swimmers, never throw garbage in the lake, don’t vomit 50 Miller Lites into the lake, and do not ram your boat into your neighbor’s pier while shouting “OOOOPS! SORRY MAN!”

Now you know.