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Is that a Poopdeck in your plans, or are you just happy to see me? 

The Poopdeck
4877 Highway 54, Osage Beach

"I'm filled with bodies, used hypodermic needles, sunglasses and catfish. My levels of E. coli are borderline unsafe. On the weekends I really rock. I will float your boat."

"Things the Lake of the Ozarks might say!"

This is how we'd describe lake water, should it turn up as a category in the Winner's Circle of The $25,000 Pyramid. We'd sit on our hands and nod enthusiastically as our teammate groped for the answer (after guessing things like "a landfill" or "Amy Winehouse"). And when we made it all the way to the pyramid's pinnacle, we'd win the loot with a dozen or so comfortable seconds left on the clock and jump up and hug Betty White, our celebrity partner and newest bestest friend.

We're at the Poopdeck in Osage Beach. By night, it's a pickup joint, by day a place to dangle as a reward in front of kids if they've been good and worn their life jackets without a fight. Today we're part of the latter group. Our party of thirteen includes eight kids under the age of ten, and five adults. The boat we rode over in resembled one filled with refugees, the kids' life jackets riding up around their faces, making them appear uniformly pudgy and uncomfortable.

The Poopdeck is in the notoriously rough water of the Lake of the Ozarks' main channel near the Grand Glaize Bridge, so we tie up the boat on all four cleats as securely as one might strap down an unruly psych patient and keep a careful watch as sixteen little be-Croced feet cross the dock and climb the tiers of steps to Poopdeck's waiting pool.

Under a section of cocktails called "Bikini Removers," we find Lakewater. The inadvertent humor of the drink's name isn't lost on us: Earlier this month studies from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Missouri Department of Conservation reported that unsafe levels of E. coli were found in coves not far from here, and officials have urged the public to avoid drinking it. Well, yeah. But yet here we are at a place called "The Poopdeck" and we just ordered a drink called "Lakewater."

This Lakewater turns out to be a seafoam-green concoction made with Parrot Bay Coconut Rum, Blue Curaçao and pineapple juice. Like many things on the lake, the drink is overpriced and faux-tropical, but it's perfectly suitable for a day like today, even if we have to keep swatting away the hands of curious nieces and nephews who're convinced it's a Surfer-Cooler-flavored Capri Sun.

Which it kind of is, only weaker.

It's a postcard day. The chairs around the Poopdeck's patio are painted in cheery pastels and the kids splashing around in the four-foot-deep pool don't have a care among them. And at the moment, neither do we: The kids who can read have not asked us to explain what Poopdeck's menu means by "Bikini Removers." The kids who can't read didn't ask us about the vomitous-smelling pink stuff that was splattered around a toilet when we took them to use the bathroom. And now, back in the boat, the Ozarks' lake water actually seems serene — sanitary, even — and no one gives a thought as to what lurks just beneath its deceptive surface.

Got a drink suggestion? E-mail

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