Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Boat is Burning!!!!

I think I've got Spam Flu.

I'm getting a scratchy throat and runny nose. And I don't have allergies.

At least swines taste better than spam!!

But processed meat product flu or not--I'll give you an entry today.

This entry was inspired by a conversation I had earlier this week with my sister T., a plight involving a pool I read about on Donna Lee's blog, and the fact that Wendy thinks I'm honest.

I'm supposed to list ten truthful things about myself.

Truthfully? I can't come up with 10 that you probably don't know already.

But I can think of one.

I can't swim.

This used to embarrass the heck out of me.

But you know what? When you grow up in Alaska, your "beaches" look like this.

Photo from

And if you walk on them they can suck you in and can kill you, or they might be full of large boulder sized rocks covered in slick algae.

Not to mention that if you fall in the water up there (some lakes in the summer aren't so bad) that hypothermia can kill you in under 10 minutes. Swimming and treading water isn't going to help you in very cold water either. That just wastes precious body heat.

Needless to say, learning to swim wasn't up there on the list of must-dos.

However, in 9th grade in gym class suddenly learning to swim was a must-do.

9th grade gym was a graduation requirement. Part of 9th grade gym was swimming.

You had two options: You could take a simple swim test where you swam one lap of the pool and you passed that unit and could go back to playing dodgeball or smoking in the locker rooms (or eating donuts and reading the sports page as the shop teacher-come-gym teacher was apt to do).

Or, if you couldn't pass the simple swim test, you could take a two week lesson that would teach you to swim.

As I was telling my youngest younger sister--I want to remember that I didn't attempt to swim the lap and just told Mr. Donutmuncher that I couldn't swim.

But to be honest, I think I tried to pass the test and made a complete ass of myself flailing around in the pool.

Cut to me and Tommy the Pigeon Toed Kid--the only other person in my class who couldn't swim a lap in our swim class--taking our basically one-on-one How To Swim course with the high school's swimming coach.

One problem: Do you see my profile picture up there in the corner?

Do you see what I'm wearing?

No, not the curlers (although those might make a great PFD!). The glasses.

I've worn glasses since I was a little bit older than Chunky.

I've never been interested in contacts. Because honestly, the idea of putting a foreign object on my freaking EYEBALL skeeves me out. And I'm lazy. I'd rather sleep than use that time worry about putting those contacts in/taking them out/cleaning them, etc.

Mr. Swimcoach always made me take off my glasses in the pool. They weren't allowed or something.

So here he is showing me how to stroke, kick, turn my head and breathe and all that shit, and here's what I'm seeing:


But to get the true effect--make that image slightly doubled--and that's how well I can see without my glasses.

You can imagine that I picked up a lot of useful information squinting at Mr. Swimcoach for two weeks and listening as Tommy the Pigeon Toed Kid learn to swim better than me.

At the end of the two weeks Tommy PTK and and I were taken to the deep end where our final "test" would be to see how we did jumping into the deep water and coming back up to the surface.

Holy crap.

You know how you piss your pants in scary situations? And how you're not supposed to pee in pools?

Honestly, I can't guarantee I didn't pee myself doing this exercise.

Tommy PTK went first and was in and out of the water and on with his life.

I, on the other hand sat perched at the side of the pool while Mr. Swimcoach treaded water in the pool waiting for me to jump in.

I was wearing a life jacket, so it's not like I was going to die. But there's something about that instant that the water hits you and swallows you up and everything goes silent except for that muffled glug-glug of the water filling your ear canal and the way the water presses in on your ribcage making you want to gasp for air, but you can't that is so frightening.

After about four minutes of me hemming and hawing at the edge of the pool and Mr. Swimcoach assuring me he wouldn't let me drown he finally gave up and started screaming at me:

"The boat is burning! The boat is burning! Jump or you'll die!"


Next time I'll take Death by Smoke Inhalation for $500, Alex.

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Blogger turtlegirl76 said...

Ok now I'm creeped out by swimming too.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

Stupid teacher. should have let you wear your galsses at poolside and then take them off for the practical stuff. Yes I know there are rules about glass and bare feet etc. But if theywanted you to actually learn how to swim, ewell, it was a medical necessitiy.

Does make me glad my friend had a pool and I splashed around in it from an early age and learned how to swim by default...

10:05 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Do you think you're the only one he taught who didn't learn? I'd say not, what an ass. And I'd agree, you're not exactly going to be prancing around at water's edge up there!!

7:28 AM  
Blogger Crafty Christina said...

The boat is burning? What an ass!

I never learned to swim either. The beaches here aren't fab but ok enough to swim in. But I just never learned and it wasn't a requirement in gym. I sort of wish I had taken lessons now that I'm older, but the thought of getting into a swimsuit and having a swim instructor just freaks me out.

7:37 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

The whole not being able to see is awful. I'm lucky that my vision, at the time I learned to swim, was not that bad. I won't win any swim competitions though. That teacher should be ashamed of himself for not realizing a kid with glasses might not be able to see what they are being taught if they aren't wearing their glasses.

8:20 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

At least growing up in Alaska gave you a good excuse. I can't swim either, and I grew up in the state of 10,000 freakin' lakes!!!!! Thanks to my parents, who thought swimming was a "boys sport."

8:40 AM  
Blogger mariegrace said...

I think swim teachers are all asses. The kids went to a big school right before we started homeschooling and the swim coach there was an ass. Gym requirement, name calling, the whole deal.

I'm not much of a swimmer myself. Would rather sit beside the pool under a sun umbrella and knit. I have, however, been insistent that the kids take swim lessons since we live beside a lake. This means I have to do the Mommy and Me swim with Tater this year. Lovely.

BTW... the little word verification thinger I need to type in order to leave my comment is "fecedis". Sounds like some sort of scientific feces sort of thing. Weird.

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think that I should have been a more attentive mother reading your blog about some of the things you went through. I ask myself "Why did I not go to school and say something to those teachers?" Would it have helped? In this case would you know how to swim? It sure would have sobered up this post or made it nonexisting.
So the boat was burning...I think that I would have looked around and asked "What boat?"

Sometimes not being able to see is a good thing. I take off my glasses to match colors in fabric or just to see what color is dominant in a printed fabric.

Thanks for the laugh! Love, Mom

9:41 AM  
Blogger Jo said...

Sorry to hear you aren't feeling well. Your teacher should have been shot.

9:41 AM  
Blogger weezalana said...

Is it wrong that "passed the unit" made me giggle?

Hope you feel better soon!

10:24 AM  
Blogger buttercup said...

I'm sorry honey - I know it was traumatic but Holy Hell! How freaking funny.

Yes, your teacher should have been fired or something. But OMG you crack me up.

TtPTK! HA! I bet he doesn't swim to this day either.

10:25 AM  
Blogger buttercup said...

I'm sorry honey - I know it was traumatic but Holy Hell! How freaking funny.

Yes, your teacher should have been fired or something. But OMG you crack me up.

TtPTK! HA! I bet he doesn't swim to this day either.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Helen said...

I would beg my mom to not take the park district swimming lessons she required of us. I was the one clinging to edge when they made us go over 5ft of water. I could never tread water properly. In high school, I still wore glasses and felt self-conscious without them, even though my vision wasn't near as bad as yours! So that made it bad. But as bad as swim class was, I have fond memories because we were allowed to stay in the shallow end if we wanted to, and one of the nicest popular guys (you know how they aren't always nice to us odd folks) stayed with me in the shallow end even though he could swim fine. No wonder I had a crush on him since 1st grade! LOL

and then, my bro of 8 years younger than me never took swim lessons. Love how parents are more lenient as they go ;)

11:37 AM  
Blogger Cindy in Happy Valley said...

There was a time here at dear 'ol state when you had to 1) pass a swim test; or b) take swimming as one of your physical education credits. I had no trouble passing. What eeped me out was that you had to wear the university swim suits to take the test. EEWWWWWWW!

My DH can't swim but didn't have to take the test because he was a veteran. All that basic training, 'ya know!

1:23 PM  
Blogger Beverly said...

That's a good point - I am blind as a bat too, which didn't happen until I was an adult. I don't know what I'd do about swimming now. Though I don't regularly wear contacts, I do have them. But I wouldn't want to wear them in chlorine or salt water. Geez, it's been so long since I've been swimming, I guess I'd just wear my glasses and hope for the best.

My grandma can't swim either - and she was born and raised in Florida. Go figure.

2:51 PM  
Blogger prairiegirl said...

I don't know how to swim either - my first attempts at swimming lessons were held at a near by river which used to have dead chickens floating in it. That summer, my brother, sister and I all came down with a hideous staff infection and let me tell you, it really put a damper on the enthusiasm for learning to swim. A few years later in grade four they tried to teach us at school. I failed pre-beginner because I refused to put my face in the water. Granted we were in a chlorinated city pool for those, but I wasn't taking any chances! ;)

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some teachers like to be large & in-charge. Sometimes I wonder why some of them go into teaching. Sorry you had a bad experience. At the HS Sean & Sam went to, they had to have so many "units" of different activities for gym class. They are a graduation requirement. Illinois is one of the handful of states that require P.E. for HS kids. Sam said when he took swimming, swim team kids taught the class. When Sean was in HS, they could get out of P.E. because of marching band(kids around here can get out of P.E. if they play a variety sport & only get out of P.E. for the length of the sport season). The kids knew how do work the system saying they had to take a class for a college prereq. I don't think Sean took P.E. his Jr. or Sr. year. The school caught on to what the band kids were doing & took the exept away from the marching band kids. Too bad because during marching season the kids put in as much time(if not more) & work just as hard as some of the jocks.

I can help you with that smoke inhalation.

Hope you feel better soon. Love, Aunt Susan

4:03 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Ha, ha, that post cracked me up - I love the blurry photo!

Don't feel bad - I took several years of free summer swimming lessons at the pool as a kid (my mom made me!) and still never learned how to swim. I still can't swim. I'm a total klutz when it comes to anything athletic. I'm always amazed when I go to the pool and see tiny little kids diving fearlessly off the diving board into the 10 foot part of the pool. I'm exactly 5 feet tall, so between that and not knowing how to swim, that pretty much relegates me to the 3-4 feet/kiddie section of the pool. Sigh...

I understand your pain about glasses. I've had glasses since I was in kindergarten ("lazy eye" - or the actual medical term, ambylopia). My left eye always had nearly normal vision, and up unti about two years ago, I could manage fine without the glasses, except for things like reading a blackboard in my college classes, etc. Now over the past couple of years, the vision in my left eye has declined to the point where both eyes are equally bad, and I need to wear the glasses all day at work, while shopping, etc. I don't wear them at home though.

I've always hated wearing glasses, and I still hate them. They're so much nicer now than in decades past, with all the lightweight lenses (I've still got some fairly thick ones) and stylish frames, but I hate them anyway. They're still uncomfortable to me. They're hot in the summer, cold in the winter, they get wet when it rains, and it's impossible to keep the lenses clean. Did I mention I hate wearing glasses?

I'm so thankful both of my kids have normal eyesight. My husband is completely blind in one eye (from a childhood accident) and can you believe he has better eyesight in his one good eye than I do in my two functioning eyes??? He only has to wear glasses for reading, and they're a very weak prescription.

I can't wear contacts either. My eye condition isn't treatable with them, and since my right eye shifts involuntarily, it would make the contacts shift into the corner of my eye, and they'd be uncomfortable.

You have my sympathy about the gym teacher! I don't see why learning to swim should be a necessity for passing gym class.

6:07 PM  
Blogger Kay aka dkswife said...

I can swim. I taught myself because my mom was afraid of water, and my did didn't really care if I could swim or not. If we had our own pool, I would be in it practically everyday. It is good exercise.

But yeah, not being able to see is not a good thing.

5:08 AM  
Blogger Tactless Wonder said...

HS Swim coaches are not known to be good swimming teachers for first timers, they are much more used to kids who want to win and such....I know, three of them tried to teach me how to swim in my long ago forgotten youth.

It was a sweet HS student that finally taught my older brother and I to swim the length of the Olympic-Sized swimming pool at what would someday become my HS.

Sorry to hear about the Spam flu.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

I taught myself to swim at our local country club when I was eleven. My eleven year old daughter insists she's afraid of water, and so I was contemplating taking her to the Y this summer and getting her comfortable in the water, but then, I read an article about contaminants in pools that chlorine doesn't kill resulting from people peeing in the pools or worse, people who have ... erm, watery "number 2", but go swimming anyway, and it ... erm, leaks. Okay, eww! Thanks for the article. I may never go swimming again, and I LIKE to swim.

I hope you feel better soon.

Thanks for playing ;).

8:38 AM  
Blogger knottygnome said...

i can't swim either. i don't think the lack of knowledge has killed me yet.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Alisha said...

Bezzie, how awful. The teacher was an ass. Have you seen the movie Mr. should. I bet he'd remind you of this teacher lol

10:03 AM  

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