It’s funny how writing a daily blog can jog memories of long ago. Today, while taking a hot bath, I remembered this one.
It was1984. My Omaha girlfriends were four younger women, one of them a sorority sister from Iowa State. Joan’s parents had a place at Lake Okoboji, and she invited us to the lake for the weekend. For some reason my boyfriend (future husband) came, too. He was the only guy.
The whole point was to go water skiing. I’d never done that before, and to tell the truth, I was afraid to do it. Lake Okoboji is the biggest, deepest lake in Iowa. I was more comfotable in a pool, and even that, not so much. My parents didn’t swim. We never went swimming as a famly. My richer friends went to country clubs on the weekends. We weren’t rich.
As a child, I was afraid of the water because of my OCD. I worried about the worst-case scenario. I didn’t like to get my head wet. My mom knew one stroke, the side stroke. Somewhere, somehow, she taught me how to do that. Or maybe it was the YMCA instructor who taught me. I was a giant among the smaller kids. The little boys made fun of me for not knowing how to swim. I was 11, but I looked to be 18 because I was so tall.
After that, I took private lessons (with little Sis) at the Fleur de Lis Hotel swimming pool out by the Des Moines airport. We had to wear swim caps. The instructor was forgettable. I got in the deep end but didn’t like it. I might have been 12 or 13.
I went to the Camp Dodge pool in high school with my friend Debbie, but she swam out to the raft in the center of the pool (biggest pool in Iowa)., and I stayed close to the pool ‘s edge in the deep end. It didn’t help that one of her guy friend’s friends had just sexually assaulted me underwater. It was the wild, wild West for teen girls back in the 70’s.
In college, I needed three PE classes. I took ice skating, something I can’t remember, and swimming. In class, the instructor made us bob from one end of the pool, to the other end. Touch the bottom, come up for a breath, down again, up for a breath, repeat. I don’t remember which end we started at. I was proud of myself for doing it.
Now it’s 1984, several years after college. I’m on a boat in the middle of a huge scary lake. Joan is the driver. Nancy, the athlete, skis first. She gets up and lasts a long time. Kyla goes next. She is petite and has no trouble getting up. My future husband goes. Then Joan goes while Nancy drives. Then it’s my turn, last. I’ve had an hour to worry about the whole thing. My heart is racing. I don’t want to do it, but I have to. I said I would.
Now I’m in the water, and the waves (from other boats) are moving me up and down. I grab the handle, grip, whatever, signal that I’m ready. Joan guns the motor and I feel the slack line getting tighter. When it becomes taut, I’m not ready. I lose my grip.
I’m hoping to get up the second time. When the rope goes taut, I am ready.
But it was not to be. I couldn’t pull myself up. I was literally sitting on the water, butt skiing, a fresh water enema, if you will. Everybody was laughing hysterically.
I have a 34-inch inseam. That means my center of gravity is high on my body. I had to get my legs under me, but I had so much leg. I tried again, same thing. Butt skier. By the Nth time, I was weak from my efforts. I said I was done. My friends had to pull me up into the boat.
Ha, ha, ha. Hahr, hahr, hahr. Laugh, laugh, laugh. Wasn’t I the funniest thing ever? Why couldn’t I do it?
What was wrong with me? Just tuck your legs under!
My future husband guffawed. He had no trouble. No one had any trouble. I was a loser. I was an epic fail.
Friends can be heartless. Boyfriends can be jerks. In another dimension, my bf might have said, “I’m so proud of you for trying, sweetheart.” But that was not to be.
The next day Karma stepped in. My tall tan guy had failed to put sunblock on the tops of his bare white feet. He had a nasty sunburn that hurt like heck when wearing shoes.
My boyfriend/husband didn’t know how to swim. After we got married, we never took the kids swimming as a family. I made sure they all had lessons at a young age. We moved four times, but he wouldn’t even consider a house with a pool.
“I wouldn’t be able to save them,” he said.
After we divorced, he had a pool built in his back yard, but it was only five feet deep.
I never did learn how to water ski, and now it doesn’t matter anymore.