Swimming for My Life – Chapter 12

My parents have made the mistake now and again, by saying that they love me. I guess they needed to or else I could have blamed them for a lot of things when I got older. Do you like sports? someone would ask me. Nope, because my father didn’t. He should have taught me this and that. And what about swimming? Can you swim? No again, my parents were deathly afraid of the water, and chose to transfer their fears to me as well!

Well, I guess they felt that I should not have swimming on their conscious in the years to come. The YMCA held swimming courses in the summer, for all those like me, who wanted to learn how to learn the art of drowning slowly! I guess, it was destiny that my parents chose this summer for me to be away from home over the next 10 days, but I would have done it differently, if only I knew then, what this summer was teaching me about girls, confusion and otherwise.

We were picked up in a largish bus, and driven to the City Pool, which everyone around town called the Plunge. It might have been a great place to swim, and sun yourself in the 30s, and perhaps the 40s too, but that was ancient history, as they say. The cracks in the sides were not the most apparent problem, as the water level seemed to be only ½ of what it should have been.  The swimming instructors, 2-3 young fellows sporting sunglasses, white arm-less t-shirts and water polo trunks, looked perplexed at the sight of the pool. “I think, I need to make a call” the one said, and excused himself, while we thought our worries were over, and they soon would be driving us home again.

No such luck for us! The instructors rounded us up again, and drove us to the High School Pool, which was filled with water, but not in use during those 10 days of water terror. We all lined up along the edge of the pool, while the instructors divided us up into groups, with each group being read the riot act of dos and dont’s around the pool. Then we were told to sit on the edge of the pool, and get our feet used to the temperature of the water. Brrrr. I wondered how many ice cubes were added each day before teaching. “No problemo, Bud. ” said the one instructor. “It’ll be warm as a pie in the oven after a few minutes! Go on. Jump in and stay in the shallow end of the pool.” One by one we eased into the pool, comparing goose bumps as our skin began to whiten a bit. “You see, Nothing to worry about!” said by the one who was working on his tan, and throwing glances at the girl’s water polo team practicing in the pool next to ours.

I didn’t think that it was that much warmer, no matter how much I kicked and moved my arms in circles like they told us to do. I was much happier, when they told us that the day was about over, and we needed to hit the showers. I wondered, if it was worth anything when my skin smelled like chlorine? Maybe that is what women like? What did I know? Try though I did, I just couldn’t get rid of that smell, no matter how much scrubbing I did.

After the first day swimming, after the bus ride home again, I felt like my arms weighed 10 pounds each. I hoped that at night, when my body was recovering from the day’s trials and tribulations, my muscles would be developing, while I slept. I had always seen pictures of Charles Atlas in the history books, with his muscles popping out, after only starting with his 97 pound skinny body. I wondered, if I would look like him at the end of the 2 weeks? Muscles and chlorine! What woman wouldn’t get turned on with those things? Well, I could tell you about one at least, who didn’t seem to care about those things….

“Hey Poindexter! Where have you been today? I’ve been looking all over for you “Phew! What is that smell? Have you been tongue kissing skunks, or something?”

She moved her perfectly formed nose, and long dark hair closer to my arm. I almost felt those goose bumps appearing again, with just the thought of her being so close to my bare skin. I saw her look up, and our eyes met for a brief moment, when… “Hey, you Silly Goose! Are you daydreaming again? You are going to get hit by a truck someday, if you keep up with that stuff! What is it with you, and that horrible smell?”

I told her about my day, and how I didn’t really want to go back again to swimming lessons tomorrow, but my parents would insist on it, I’m sure. She just looked all funny at me, wrinkling her nose now and again, not saying anything, but thinking something diabolical, all the same. “You know, if I went with you, we could change things, so you wouldn’t have to worry about swimming anymore.” I was both happy, but a bit worried as well, at the thought of not learning how to swim this summer. But what would she do to change that? That was the worrying part.

The next day dawned bright and sunny, making me worry all over again about the Girl next door. She couldn’t come on the bus with me, but chose to ride her bike over to the High School, where she would put her plan into action. I was laughing and joking with the others, when the bus pulled up at the pool. We showed our tickets, and went into the changing room to wash ourselves before the teaching started. I hadn’t seen hide nor hair of my friend, but I knew she was nearby. I just sensed it.

Day 2 started out pretty much like day 1, with us lining up along the edge of the pool. Today, however, we were expected to jump in, getting used to the water in one fell swoop. I held my nose, and was just about to jump in, when somebody yelled bloody murder,”There is a horse in the pool!” Everyone craned their necks, not really believing that a horse had somehow decided to take a swim in the High School Pool. Sure enough there was a horse in the pool, swimming along like it owned the place, with its long mane flowing in back of it in the water.

“Now we’ll have to empty the pool and disinfect it, before anyone can use it again!” The swimming instructors didn’t quite know what else to say.  The rest of us looked disappointed, or tried to anyway, at the thought of not having to be humiliated by the instructors, the better swimmers, or be laughed at by the women’s water polo team. I felt like I had died, and gone to heaven! But where had my friend gotten to, and how did she get a horse in the pool?

We went back into the changing room rolling up our towels and swinging them at each other. “Roughhousing! I won’t put up with that”, the one instructor yelled at us, while trying to look at the horse, and the women in their water polo bikinis, in the pool next to ours. “I’d better go out and see how that horse is going to get out, but I’ll be back in a flash to check up on you rascals!”

We all got our clothes on and waited for the bus to arrive. I noticed a horse trailer on the street with a rather confused person darting about, looking for something that shouldn’t be lost in the first place. I felt obliged to tell him about the horse in our pool, which made him relieved, and mad at the same time. He stormed up to the pool, and demanded to know who was in charge there! “Who was the prankster that had taken his prize thoroughbred, and led it into the pool? Who was going to pay for its removal? Who this, and who that.”

Sheesh. I would have thought him to be happy, and just a bit grateful at having found his prize horse! I guess some people just like to look a gift horse in the mouth, or whatever that saying means?

On the way back home again, I thought I saw someone on a bike, following us home again. We all were told about how swimming was cancelled this summer due to circumstances beyond the YMCA’s control, and how they would like to see us again next year! I trudged on home with the thought of not being the next Charles Atlas, with muscles popping out of my head, impressing the heck out of the girls in the area. At least I wouldn’t have to smell like Chlorine anymore, which seemed not to be the high-power turn on that would drive women insane with love, and all that stuff! I guess, I’ll just have to wow them with my natural way of being, and not any artificial muscles, or pale white skin?

When I just about reached my house, my friend suddenly appeared beside me, walking her bike. “Well Poindexter, what do you think about my plan today?” What I thought? What did I think about her, and her hair and eyes and nose, all put together into one fine figure of a woman. She and I walking toward the sunset. Hand in hand. Gazing into each others eyes, telling her how I lo……..

“Hey you! Wipe that goofy smile off your face right now, or someone might think that we two were going steady, or something! Have you gone off the deep end of the pool, one too many times? Is the Chlorine eating away at your brain? I really worry about you sometimes, and your vivid imagination! It’s good you have such a level-headed friend like me to keep you on the straight and narrow path of righteousness!”

With that she had awoken me out of my stupor, which I seemed to fall into more and more when we were together. I tried to concentrate when she was around, but it just wasn’t easy, when I started thinking about her skin, her nose and her. Oops. It’s happening again.

“I want you to stop thinking about your bikini-dreams right now, before you get too many ideas about girls, and love and all that stuff. That kind of thing isn’t for you! Not while I am around…..”