Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thoughts are hard

Which is why I began two blogposts since the last one and scrapped them midway through. But I'm feeling the need to write something. So I'm cheating and using a modified prompt from One Minute Writer. The prompt is to write about a memorable summer activity you enjoyed as a child, but I decided to reminisce about a summer activity that I did not enjoy. I know, I'm so subversive sometimes.

My mom had a loosely-enforced summertime rule regarding the wearing of innertubes, swimmies, and the like in the pool: You have to wear them until you pass swim lessons. I say "loosely-enforced" because, like most of her rules, I could generally whine and wheedle my way out of them (don't judge my mom. You don't know the piercing hell that was/is my tantrum voice). However, it would seem a rule such as this--one designed for safety--wouldn't be up for compromise. But, dear reader, let me tell you: Had she actually enforced it, I would have been wearing my red rubber innertube-swimsuit until I moved out of the house. I never learned to swim.

It's not that I'm afraid of water. On the contrary, I always look forward to pool excursions. It's that I am supremely unathletic. My body simply refuses to move the way it should. Water gets up my nose, no matter how hard I try to blow out underwater. Diving inevitably ends in bellyflops. A simple freestyle stroke turns to a doggie paddle, and a float always ends in a sink. As recently as last summer friends tried to get me to execute a successful float on my back. I was relaxed, head back, arms out, and my legs still refused to remain horizontal. I'm very dense, you see. I can't tread water in the same way that other people can, either. The only way I can stay afloat in one place is by kicking as fast as I can like I'm riding a unicycle, while simulataneously sweeping my arms. If I try to do it slowly, the sea eats me.

Oh, and I still hold my nose when I go underwater. GOD HELP YOU if you dunk me before I have a chance to pinch my nostrils shut.

I can't recall the order in which I was signed up for swim lessons, but I do recall at least three separate summers in which my mom attempted to instill aquatic knowledge in my young mind. There was Mr. Doug, a large hairy man with a bushy mustache. I believe his swim lessons were in his home pool, but I could be wrong. We have a home movie of this debacle. I'm blissfully doggie paddling along in arm swimmies, a giant styrofoam q-tip under my armpits for extra support. I laugh and splash, and make silly jokes with Mr. Doug. Then Mr. Doug takes away my q-tip, THAT MONSTER. I flail and cry, my head dipping underwater and begging for mercy. After a good ten minutes of watching me sputter and die, Mr. Doug finally gives up and deposits me, still clinging to his hairy chest, on the side of the pool. There I curl up into an angry ball, betrayed.

I don't remember the second swim lessons at all, except that a pretty blonde lady (maybe a teen, who knows) taught it. Also, a failure, because that led to the final swim lesson at a local country club. I think I was about 8 or 9 by that time, and had to be placed with some younger kids. That probably didn't encourage me to take the lessons very seriously, and I recall mostly splashing around and ignoring the instructor. One day we had a CPR lesson, and instead of getting to be in the pool we had to sit on the side and watch demonstration after demonstration. I remember being hot, and thinking I can go into the water if I make it look like an accident. So I slipped off the side into the deep end and let myself sink to the bottom. Then, I kicked my way back up to the top, expecting the instructor to yell at me. Instead, she praised me for knowing how to get back up, and I was pleased that my deception was successful. THAT is what I learned from those lessons.

I'm pretty sure that because I disliked swim lessons so much as a child, and was so awful to my instructors, it's my cosmic fate that someday I'll be the sole survivor of a plane crash only to land in the middle of a small, relatively shallow lake/river/pond/swimmin' hole, and that I will drown right then and there with onlookers lamenting "if only she learned to swim." Or that one day I will have a child that I take to the beach, and he will get caught in a rip tide, and I will only be able to shout helplessly from the beach, "I'M SORRY JOHNNY. MOMMY HAS TO HOLD HER NOSE IN THE WATER AND SHE CAN'T REACH YOU WITH ONLY ONE ARM, NOW CAN SHE?"

Even worse: My mother will show up one day and demand I wear my swimmies again. She would.

This infant is actually rescuing me.

1 comment:

Lucy said...

Oh, goodness, I hope you survive another summer:)

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