Life in the fast lane riddled with human cannonballs
John Heath greeted me in passing at Applebee’s recently and inquired about my health, knowing I’ve had lingering back pain for years.
I lamented that my workout regime had suffered.
He slid his shirt sleeve to his shoulder, crooked his arm, and popped his guns out.
“See this?” he boasted.
“All from swimming.
Breaststroke. Go ahead, feel it.”
Well, when Principal John Heath tells you to squeeze his bicep, you squeeze his bicep.
It was solid. I was impressed.
But not impressed enough to spend $100/month on a family membership at the KROC Center in Memphis to swim indoor laps.
However, as summer approached this year, my back went out again. (I swear, y’all. I’m writing a customer complaint letter to God as soon as I find my chutzpah.) My parents’ pool provided the perfect testing ground. After donning my suit and pulling my hair back, I limped over, looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and gingerly sunk myself into the shallow end.
As I hesitantly commenced the freestyle stroke, I smiled. I had found my old-lady exercise. The pain was gone.
Nothing would prevent me from burning calories and building guns!
After my self-appointed 30-minute swim, I excitedly checked my biceps.
I really did.
I guess you have to build up to those things.
Now, listen, I knew nothing about swimming. I had no gear and no training. I watched several YouTubes on proper form.
But I still swam like a drunk shark. Turns out, goggles serve a very important purpose: vision!
Also, my wet hair would fall into my face, covering my mouth, when I turned my head for a breath, effectively preventing the intake of oxygen.
No big deal. I just need it to stay alive.
Kind of like the time Chris picked me up for a date nearly two decades ago, and a plastic bag wafting across the interstate stuck to his grill. Ten minutes later, his radiator hose popped and left us stranded at the Jackson St.
exit in Memphis for four hours on Independence Day.
So, air is important.
Finally, all the thrashing and head-turning inevitably slid water right down to my eardrum, where it stayed, pulsing with every heartbeat and every step, and sloshing with the slightest movement of my head.
I would try to knock it loose by tilting my chin up and beating the tar out of my temple with the heel of my hand.
That only gave me a headache.
So I bought the goggles (UVA tinted!), the swim cap (purple!), and the earplugs (awesome!).
But nothing can solve the biggest dilemma.
Polar magnetism exists between me and my offspring. There is no sneaking out to the pool. They follow in droves, like the geese on Cypress Ave.
Yesterday, I swam laps in a relatively small pool, competing for space with four hefty preteen boys.
Swimming laps with them was like dodging hand-grenades and landmines. One hundred twenty prepubescent pounds of white boy actually cannon- balled on my head.
On my head!
My swim cap isn’t a cloak of invisibility, for crying out loud! It’s bright purple!
I fended off well-placed swimmers’ kicks and deadman floats the whole time. I eventually called my workout half-way through and retreated to a lounge chair. Seems the safest place to be a mom during the summer.
You’d think the bathroom would be equally safe, offering both privacy and physical barriers between me and the human TNT.
However, just before assuming the position at the pool throne in the garage, I noticed a nest of mosquitoes hovering just over the toilet water.
Fifty of them at least.
I guess they were hoping for the all-you-can-eat special, but they got a spritz of Windex instead.
It’s all I could get my hands on in the heat of the battle.
I’m a popular summer mom because we really indulge in ice cream treats when the temperature triggers the taste buds.
Last week, my 8th-grade daughter piped up after an otherwise uneventful ice cream run, “I couldn’t get the paper off my waffle cone… so I ate it.”
Sigh. I don’t see a future for her in Logistic Solutions.
Maybe Public Relations, though.
I caught her wearing her sister’s shoes. This is a big deal because a) they don’t wear the same size, and b) more importantly, they argue incessantly over who has to put away any shared clothing or accessories.
I tired of the dissension, so I proclaimed in my best dictator voice, “No more sharing!”
“Are you wearing your sister’s shoes?” I demanded.
She replied, “Well, she’s wearing my shorts. So we made a deal.”
Suspicious, I probed, “Did you make a deal for real, or just in your mind?” She cut her eyes to me and smirked.
“Well.” She drew out the syllable with marked delay. “In my mind.”
Uh-huh. Your mom wasn’t born yesterday!
“You know that doesn’t count, right?” I confirmed.
She did. She was just spinning the story like a good PR guy.
If I ever end up in jail, she’s writing the press release.
Speaking of, can we talk about all the people I know in the county jail right now?
My son’s very best friend was smashed in the face by his addict mother while she waved a knife at him and threatened his life.
He survived, but I won’t say he’s okay. She will hopefully never have custody of her kids again.
Then there’s Christina McCafferty, my Scouts leader.
I camped out with her at scouting events several times. She taught my kids at VBS. I never suspected a thing, calling her a friend.
Her arrest shocked me.
She allegedly took some indecent liberties with some teens.
I just can’t believe I missed it. I’d make a terrible lie detector.
I actually don’t want to know what everyone’s hiding. Life seems happier in oblivion.
It’s like having the pool all to yourself.
In conclusion, do right, even when you think no one is watching; be good, both to yourself and to others, and stay out of my lane in the pool.
Oh, and don’t eat the paper.
Dorothy Wilson lives in Marion with her husband Chris as they enjoy all the adventures life with their seven children provides.
Her columns appear monthly in the Marion Ledger, with reprints appearing in the online edition of the Evening Times, like this one from August of 2016.