Friday, November 13, 2009

Not Everyone’s a Swimmer



“I hafta tell ya, every time you say you’re gonna go to the pool, I cringe”, PP's coworker laughs, shaking her head.
“Why is that?” PP asks.
“It’s just that I’d rather go on a hike, or walk the dog, or hell, visit the dentist rather than dive into a pool! I’m not a swimmer.”

“Yeah, I understand." PP nods like she does understand. But really she doesn't. At least not yet. So, she tries for some sort of understanding rejoinder: "Yeah, well, I just grew up with it.”

“Exactly. But my parents never gave us swim lessons. For whatever reason, it just wasn’t important ….so I didn’t know how to swim. I actually didn’t learn to swim 'till I was in Jr. High. I was 13. You know Willard Jr. High School?”

“Oh yeah. Nice little pool there.”

“It is. But for me, it was almost traumatic. I mean they weren’t gonna let me graduate from the 8th grade till I learned to swim. And unlike you, since I didn’t grow up with it, I was just terrified of the water. I have this fear of drowning. And I’m sure that stems from not being familiar with swimming and growing up in and around pools. So when I was at Willard, they put me in this swim class, and I tell you, PP, I was the only White Chick in this crowd of African American girls named Latisha. And they were all scared to death of the water and LOUD. ‘Help help me oh Lord I gonna drown!’ Which of course just terrified me and made my fear of drowning that much worse.”








Laughing, PP nods, “So, did you learn how to swim?”

“Oh, yeah, I did eventually, and for me, it was a Real Rite of Passage, so when I got married and had kids, I vowed to myself that I wasn’t gonna let the same thing happen to them. So I gave them all swim lessons and the older two took right to it, but the youngest, he was just like me. Scared to death. Used to fool the swim instructors out at King Pool, you know it? Out on Hopkins?
“Oh yeah…”





“Well, when my youngest took group lessons there. He used to scoop up handfuls of water…” She cups her hands over her desk to demonstrate.“…and then splash the water on his head to look like he’d dunked under. And I thought, hey, that’s pretty smart.”

“That’s so funny,” PP says, “cause it was the same in my family. Me and my middle sis took right to the water, but the youngest. She had a harder time with it. Didn’t learn till way later.”

”Exactly! But this kid, my youngest, finally did learn when I took him to private lessons one-on-one. The instructor was this really mellow knowledgeable young lady who just worked with him about the dunking your head under the water thing and told him, ‘Hey if you don’t want to dunk your head in you don’t have to but if you do dunk your head under, it won’t kill you.’ So eventually he tried it. And it didn’t kill him.”





PP nods. “Yeah, not everyone's a swimmer. I get that.”

But actually she still didn’t. Why the hell wouldn’t everyone want to swim? Of course there is the real possibility of drowning if you don't know how to swim. But why wouldn't everyone want to learn? It’s the BEST thing in the world. Why it’s the closest thing to being back in the womb as Super Swimmer Woman had said one night in Utopia.

PP wasn’t so sure about the Womb Thing, but she did know that there was, as you all know who read this blog, something about swimming that you can’t get anywhere else.

“Is it kinda meditative for you?” Non-Swimmer Co-worker asks, interrupting her reverie.
“Oh, yeah. As long as I don’t have to run the YMCA obstacle course.”
“You mean if you hafta share a lane?”
”Yeah. That can get a little dicey.”
“I could see that.”

But PP could see that she really didn't. For her, swimming was probably still a dicey affair. And this was such a tragedy. For what would Reality be without Swimming?

PP couldn't imagine. It'd be like living without chocolate. Or Dancing without the Stars. Or barfing without the cats. (Well, she could live without cats' barfing.)





You get the gist.

Life without swimming?

It just isn't living.

At least not in PP's Reality.

And frankly, what other Reality matters?

2 comments:

Studio Jameson said...

Of course there is the great white mom who swims a very stressed out sidestroke. This way she doesn’t have to get her head under the water. It’s always been that way. We had to take swimming in college. My best friend Joyce couldn’t float. She was very thin and had absolutely no buoyancy. Trying to coach her to inhale and fill up the lungs did not work either she just let it all out and sank. Typically she could float about 2 inches under the surface of the pool. We all had to pass the lifeguard test, and finally we all made it, but with a lot of covert help.

Support said...

Of course! The Great White Mom! I'll never forget the time you jumped into the pool in your yellow pants suit to escape the untoward advances of a bumble bee!

And I've never heard about Joyce--great story. Thanks!

Sidestroke on!