Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Am a Guppy. Deal With It.













This week, I am Esther Williams! I am Amanda Beard! I am Miss Piggy in that synchronized swimming fantasy she has in The Great Muppet Caper!

In short, I have been swimming. A lot.

Summer is by far my favorite season of the year. It requires so little clothing. I don't feel pressure to wear makeup, just a little sunscreen and some lip balm. You can sit outside and drink beers all day long if you have the mind to. AND you can go swimming. Which makes me giddy if I sit here and think about it for too long.

Because, you see, I love swimming. If I see a pool from a distance or even smell chlorine, I get excited. I'm like a puppy who wants to go for walk. "Pool? Now? Us? Pool? Pool?! Pool!" And before you know it, I'm sitting in the doorway with my suit on and a towel around my waist telling you to, "Hurry up and get your ass ready. The pool waits for no man!"

When I was a kid, swimming was better than Christmas. On vacations, I would BEG my parents to stay in a hotel with a pool. I didn't want dinner. I didn't want to go shopping. I didn't want to sit in the room and watch cable TV. I wanted to go swimming. "One hour after eating to prevent cramps" be DAMNED! When there wasn't a pool around, I would just overfill the bathtub and attempt to float in it.

But let me first clarify that I am, in fact, a terrible swimmer. Oh, I can tread water for hours and hours and hours and hours. And I can do a fairly graceful dive. My underwater handstands are sublime. But when it comes to actually swimming laps, my skills are abysmal. I blame it all on the fact that I never passed guppy level at swimming lessons. Allow me to tell you why.

I had a crush. On two boys. Brothers. And they were both in my swimming class. Along with my brother who knew I had a crush on said boys and was constantly making fun of me for it. And so, as I tried to maintain my dignity while wearing a swimming suit in front of boys, my swimming skills suffered. Everyone else went on to minnow levels. And eventually, I stopped taking lessons altogether. The angst was just too much. Which is why, at almost 29, I am still a guppy.

But let me just say that being a guppy is nothing to be ashamed of. I imagine there are a lot of aged tadpoles out there still wearing their water wings or avoiding the water altogether. I can totally do a breathstroke. Just not a very effective one. And sometimes, when trying to breathe and stroke is just too much trouble, I simply stop mid-pool and have a nice, refreshing break. I don't go to lap swimming to break any kind of speed record or whittle myself down to one of those streamlined swimmer's builds. I just go to wallow around in the water. Less of a duck to water, and more of a pig in shit. A fabulous one with purple gloves, a green boyfriend, and a no-nonsense karate chop. As Miss Piggy would say, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye." I believe this also applies to proper swimming technique.

12 comments:

nadarine said...

I taught YMCA swimming lessons for years, despite my total inability to do the butterfly correctly. If you want me to come over on weekends and teach you flipturns and other such Shark-level tricks, I shall do so. Just as long as it doesn't involve the butterfly.

katastic said...

Any swimmin' is good swimmin' if you don't drown.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@nadarine: You're going to fly in on weekends to teach me how to swim properly? :) Just don't bring any cute boys with you. It will just distract me again.

@katastic: Indeed. I agree with that.

*h said...

I learned how to swim at the YMCA, too. My mom had me in the water when I was three. I always thought that the grates at the bottom of the deep end were going to swallow me.

I was the captain of the girls varsity swim team, son! You need lessons? You got em. I haven't swam for reals like in about 10 years, but I remember how to float and such.

Either that or we can just watch Michael Phelps and eat ice cream. Either way, victory shall be ours.

The Minister said...

My dad was a varsity swimmer and envisioned the same thing for his kids. I took swimming lessons for YEARS and he even tried to get me on the country club swim team and I never progressed passed tadpole level.

I refuse to go under the water without my nose pinched and never learned to dive. But I'm OK with that, because I've never drowned and, in case of an emergency, I do know CPR.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@h: Hahahahaha...I'm actually thinking about trying to get some kind of proper swimming training perhaps later in the year at the Y. Right now I can't justify paying for a membership when I can swim for free at the public pool. But when that day comes, your lessons are accepted. :)

@the minister: OMG! Diving is totally scary to learn how to do when you're over the age of 10. I forced myself to learn in college. Basically, my friend was like, "You're going to go off that diving board headfirst and you're going to do it now. Or I will laugh at you." And so I did. And it was horrible. And embarrassing. (Apparently I went off the board with my legs all splayed for God and world to see my lady biz.) But then I honed the skills. And now I love to dive. There's no shame in not knowing how to do something like that. As Kat says, the important part is not drowning.

Jen said...

Is there a stage between tadpole and guppy? Because I might qualify for that. I enjoy swimming well enough, but I hate putting my face in the water. No diving, no jumping into the deep end, nothing like that. I just paddle along, uncomfortably craning my neck to avoid submerging too much of my head. Actually, it's kind of reminiscent of a swimming dog. So there we go. You are a guppy, I am a puppy.

peach said...

i've gotten tired of being lapped by the old people at the Y. backstroke is my friend.

nadarine said...

Did I mention my swimming lessons fee involves weekly plane tix to NYC? No? Oops. I prefer to fly Continental, btw. Small price to pay for a flawless freestyle form, though, right?

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@cate: *snort* :)

@peach: I would love to be able to backstroke, but I can't see where I'm going and end up two lanes away from where I started.

@nadarine: I guess I'll have to take my chances with self-training.

lalaland13 said...

As a water sign, you think I'd be all about swimming. And indeed, for the first time in a while, this summer I actually bought a swimsuit. But I have yet to put it on and dive into the apartment pool. Because I'd want to be alone. No kids. I hate kids. They pee in pools. Some adults might too, actually. And I hate how I look in a swimsuit.

I can barely dogpaddle, but I make it. Once I was hanging out with the daughters of my mom's teacher friend, and they insisted that I would learn how to swim that day because God wanted me to. Ha. I forget how I actually learned, but I did. Somehow.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@lala: You shouldn't let anything dissuade you from hopping in the pool. No one feels entirely comfortable in a swim suit. You just have to walk out there pretending that you do. And then have fantasies where you drown annoying people.