Feb 11, 2009

Thursday's theme is fish. I don't particularly care for fish, I don't like to fish, I don't own fish, what's to say about fish? Well, there's this. When I was nine years old, I nearly slept with the fish. And it was not because I was on a Mafia hit list for kids. It was because I might have ignored the fact that I couldn't swim and nearly drowned in a lake. In Omaha, Nebraska in the late fifties, suburban moms didn't load their kids into their SUVs and take them to "lessons". That included swim lessons. In fact, the SUV wasn't even invented. Those moms that drove and there weren't many, drove station wagons. A step up from Conestoga wagons, but certainly no SUV. But I digress. I didn't learn to swim until I was about ten. Swimming lessons in my neighborhood involved jumping into the pool and acting like you were swimming. If you didn't actually swim, you headed to the shallow end or you sank. I spent a lot of time in the shallow end. One Saturday, my dad loaded us all up in the car and took us to a lake for a barbecue with the guys from his work. There was a lot of beer to be drunk at the barbecue and whenever there was a lot of beer to be drunk, my old dad did his share. He was that kind of guy. Anyway, I was hanging around the lake with a couple of other kids and someone got the bright idea to climb on a log and ride it into the lake. Despite the fact that I couldn't swim, I hopped on too, because I was a follower. Things were going along pretty well until someone got the brilliant idea to rock the log, with the predictable results, one of the other kids fell off. When one guy falls off a log in the middle of a lake, anyone left on the log is pretty much doomed to the same fate. I know this for sure, because I fell off and sank into the lake like a rock. I recall flailing and frantically trying to breath. I managed to pop my head up above water and I could see people on the shore watching me. Then I sank again. One of the times I bobbed to the surface, I saw my father sitting on a horse on the shore looking on. A horse, you say? Why yes, having ingested a large quantity of beer, my dad decided that or bragged to his drunken pals, he could ride a horse. So, he went to a nearby stable and rented a horse, just to prove his point. The last thing a drowning kid wants to see when he is drowning, is his drunken old man sitting on a horse watching the proceedings like a general surveying the battlefield. What he really wants to see is his old man swimming to his rescue. Didn't happen, which is probably good, because he might have drowned us both trying to save me. Plus the horse would have probably kicked me in the head. Instead, a teenage kid, who was a lifeguard, swam out and pulled my scrawny butt to safety. All's well that end's well. I was grateful not to have drowned, even if it meant catching hell for nearly ruining a perfectly good picnic. Things in this blog represented to be fact, may or may not actually be true. The writer is frequently wrong, sometimes just full of it, but always judgmental and cranky

20 comments:

dennis said...

Dennis is glad you didn't go to sleep with the fishes.

Coffee Messiah said...

I was glad to read your pop wasn't waving at you and that you did survive!

I have a story similar, but my dad threw me in a pool, deep in, in Miami on one of our vacations when I was a youth. ; (

Wonder what get's into their heads that makes some parents do stuff like that.

Enjoyed your reflection.

subtorp77 said...

Your Pop sounded a lot like mine. Although, I don't think he would've looked for a horse to ride. More like he'd just watch me to see if I could figure out how to start swimming. Then prob'ly give me a good wallopin' for being dumb enough( and I was, a few times )for trying it, in the first place.

Squirrel said...

a terrible tale well told!

Nan Patience said...

I don't blame you for feeling a little bitter toward your Dad.

I almost drowned in the ocean once, I got caught in a rip tide. A friend nearby with his feet touching the bottom kept telling me to do the backstroke. I didn't listen. I just panicked. I was saved by a brave and handsome ocean lifeguard. It was the end of the day just before they went off duty...

It's a wonder really that I am alive, as Death has had ample opportunity to escort me elsewhere.

So, here we are.

Reya Mellicker said...

I can't tell if this is a really sad story or a really funny story. Both, maybe.

One thing I know for sure: I'm so glad you didn't drown that day. Your dad was a very sick man. May he rest in peace.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

with a fish tale like this it is little wonder you don't particularly care for our finny friends....

add my voice to the chorus singing gratitude that you didn't end up with the fishes.....

Cinnamon said...

Crazy story- the way only true stories can be. I am so glad you 'lived to tell the tale'- but close call.

Megan said...

I didn't learn to swim until I was 10, either!

I agree with Reya, a sad story and a funny story.

And scary.

bella rum said...

You told this story very well.

I'm not sure why I laughed at it, Merle. I know you were in distress, but I near laughed myself to death picturing your little head going under, imagining you gulping water, and your old man looking on while sitting on a horse and deep in the cups ta boot. It's sad but god awful funny at the same time. Life is weird like that. I can't explain it. I'm so glad you survived, though, if that means anything.

Steve said...

Wow! What a scary story! It must be strange to be able to look back and think how DIFFERENTLY things could have turned out. And how much different the world would be now! Hooterville would certainly not be the same. :)

Nan, I want to be saved by a brave and handsome ocean lifeguard. How do I arrange that?

A.Decker said...

Well, I dropped the ball on Theme Thursday this week, but I was curious what kind of fish tale would issue from a guy who lies on the sidewalk waiting to make snow angels, based on the weather forecast.
You haven't changed much, have you?! ;-D

PS: I once made a similarly...'innocent' mistake, but not as colorful a story as yours. I'm glad we both survived.

Kris said...

At least there were no sharks.

Barbara said...

I can so identify with this because even though I grew up in Florida, I was terrified of deep water and spent a lot of time in the shallow end of pools standing up. One of my goals in life is to really make friends with deep water so I don't panic when my feet can't touch the bottom.

I'm glad you were rescued. I'll bet you still remember that feeling of drowning as though it was yesterday.

Adrianne said...

Although I love the beauty and mystery of deep water, there's a part of me that's terrified at the same time. Reading your story brought my own deeply-ingrained fear of drowning to the surface -- I found myself holding my breath while reading. I am so glad that this one worked out for you, Merle, because the blogosphere just wouldn't be the same without you! (: )

Squirrel said...

At least there were no sharks! Haaa! Kris is so funny.

Kurt said...

Still no RSS feed, but my brain kicked in and reminded me to come here.

I don't know if my father can swim. I never seen him off the couch.

Avid Reader said...

Hey Merle, you really ought to put a collection of essays together, You are as good a storyteller as Jean Shepard (the guy who wrote a Christmas Story) with your childhood tales, and as good as Dave Barry with some of your current-day observations.

I'd like to get a list from you of books that you enjoyed or (?) changed your life--or your favorite book as a kid-- thanking you in advance for your complete cooperation,
sincerely,
A.R.

edward said...

did you get a fish while you were under the water?

bitchlet said...

I almost drowned in a swimming pool once. I'm hydrophobic. Head showers make me uncomfortable.