Sunday, May 30, 2010

Clorox Was My Cologne

When I was fifteen, on Memorial Day weekend, I would've been somewhere swimming and getting sunburned. At the local pool, I was the big showoff on the diving boards, because my mother, who was a swimmer and diver at SFU, had taught me a few things. I'd also taken diving lessons on vacations to Sea Island- although an overthrown dive on an untested board is what caused the first shoulder dislocation and ended any thoughts on my part of competing. The breaks would find me sitting on the concrete deck, frying, drinking diet Double Cola, Walkman on and with some cryptic paperback in hand. Oh, and the absolute worst part was that I swam so often that by the time I was supposed to be over at the ball diamonds to manage/coach, I wasn't able to put my contacts back in. I'd change into dry clothes, schlep down the path, and hope nobody saw me in glasses and without makeup.

Since people felt that my family "had money", a summer job was out of the question because those went to kids who needed them. My mother routinely purchased us a pool pass, dropping Little Sister and me off every day and picking us up late in the afternoon at closing time. Looking back at pictures of myself, I can really tell how red my hair turned from the chlorine every year...and I smelled like bleach a lot of the time, too.

I was the only kid who did inversion dives. My mother scolded me over it every time somebody brought it to her attention; she had seen a teammate accidentally scalp herself in college by misjudging her kickback going off the board- but even Greg Louganis did that once during the Olympics- it happens. I was pretty gutless about a lot of sports, especially after I lost my hearing due to getting clocked with an aluminum softball bat, but put me in water and I'm fearless. I put up with a lot of taunting about my weight from a friend's brother who was a lifeguard, but being naturally sarcastic and intolerant of him in particular, I'd wait a while into the day and land a well-calculated cannonball near his chair. He was forced to sit there, damp and clammy, until he could swim during the next break.

Ah, youth. If I could get just a pool membership at the Y, I'd do it. Water's the only place I've never felt borne down by gravity. Swimming is something that I miss. No, I don't look too hot in a swimsuit, but I really don't care. It's like going to a club to dance- I'm not there for the show, I'm there to swim, and smell like a load of whites on washday.

1 comment:

constancecomments said...

I found your link on Farmchick's blog...I didn't know yours existed but I'm happy that I do now!
Gee, I'm missing that "high" I used to get when my mom dropped my brother and me off at the pool...and I thought I was just excited to spend the afternoon in the water. ;)
Connie (your "old" babysitter)