Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


This isn't me.
I was over at mothersofbrothersblog (one of my favorites) reading her inspiring post about pool hierarchies and decided I needed to write.

So because our corner of the world is hotter than the inside of the torture oven in Hades, and because our house is even toastier than that, we go swimming.

I sort of feel that I have a little ownership in that pool. The lifeguards are all friends of my erstwhile lifeguard son and I paid a quintillion dollars to get a season pass back when the air was a frigid 30 degrees. So when I walk in there, I feel confident. Until I take off the towel in all my hippopotamic splendor.

It takes me half an hour to scrooch and jiggle and wrestle the blubber into a suit so tight it leaves me breathless. The tags read "figure enhancing". Nice giant balloon animal shape there, Lady. What it really means was that big blobby bits of me boil out every time I dive into the water. I look into the mirror in the bathroom at the pool (after vying for position with the regular nymphs who hang out in front of the mirror when they aren't out pasting themselves to their boyfriends at the ends of the lap lanes), hoping that by some magic, I don't look as hideous as I think I do. Then the bat wings flop out and, well, I take that big gulp and head out anyway, chastened.

Just to take myself out of the realm of possibility (in my head. My actual physique thrust me out of there into the cold hard stare of reality long before), I jam my hair into a swimming cap and pull on the ol' goggles. Now even I don't look at myself as a contender.

I dive into the lap lane and battle through a whole length of butterflies to come up gasping at the end of the length. Bodes ill for the coughseniorolympicscough next year. I have ordered myself to cut my fly down to less than an hour and a half per lap this year, so I can have an iota of self-respect. (Right.) It's just a total brain slam when you come in only seven seconds faster than a 98-year-old lady taking a half day to do the backstroke. I can just hear my children's children's children's children snickering.
Also not me.

My daughter likes to race me, knowing that she'll always be there at the end of the lane, laughing as I thresh through the water trying to catch up. Rub it in, Paste Maiden. I wanna see how fast you swim when you're my age and have six kids.

Yesterday there was a kid doodling around in the lap lane like a waterlogged June bug. I waited until he was nearly to the end before I dove in. Still, I caught him on one of his tight little circles and whacked him accidentlyonpurposebutcertainlypurposefullyaccidentally. I told him the lap lane was for lap swimmers. He proceeded to inform me that he was swimming laps. He simply hadn't gotten to the end yet. At which time I secretly called it open season on June bugs.

So when does it become prohibitive to dive off the diving board? I mean pre-breakage. Certainly breaking the board is a heads-up. But until then, is there a line over which you simply cannot cross? I'm the type of person who will do it just because you told me I'm too old/fat/ugly to--just to prove I can. (Heck, I went climbing for my last birthday. Let's say there were many false starts and scratches.) I like to dive, even though sometimes hitting the water is much like ramming myself into a cement wall repeatedly. Go figure. It remains a challenge to do it with some small smidgen of class.

Neither is this.
There is always the hope that with all the diving off the diving board, the sliding down the waterslide, the random laps, the copious handstands and games of Sharks and Minnows in the diving bay, that my figure will somehow emerge not looking like the Sta-puff marshmallow man. That somehow even though I look like a basking manatee, there could be coolness points in store just because I'm doing it, not just baking on the pool deck with a book and a gallon of iced tea with the Squeamish Moms.

Dream on.
Clearly not me.

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