I recently read a blog post relating to the torture of childhood swimming lessons. Of course, almost every "family" or "childhood" related post I read, reminds of yet another bit of lunacy from my own upbringing. This one was no different.
My mom scheduled me to take lessons at a local high school when I was almost seven. I didn't want to go, but I had no choice. I was relieved when she made me walk there by myself. One thing I didn't need was her screaming at me (or worse) from poolside. The instructors were clearly high school idiots with summer jobs working for the city. I didn't like them at all. My "teacher" and I didn't hit it off very well.
He instructed, I ignored.
He pleaded, I turned my head.
He yelled at me, I told him to go to hell.
I then got out of the pool and walked home. I may have only been six years old, but I had the swearing ability of at least a sixth grader.
My mother wasn't pleased. She informed me that I would learn how to swim that summer, or else. Some of you already know that my mom rarely threatened, she usually just reacted. When she did threaten, if you didn't comply, god help you. That applied to anyone in her life, not just us. My older brother chimed in with a potential life saving, "I'll teach him how to swim!" Whew! My brother usually only caused me grief. This time it looked like he was actually going to help me.
Several days later my brother and I took the bus to the Nu-Pike Plunge, in downtown Long Beach.
The plunge was a huge pool with fancy concrete fountains in the middle. We changed clothes and walked out to the pool area. It was very loud and crowded. He found a spot to put our towels down and walked to the edge of the pool. He told me to jump in. I'm no dummy. I checked out the depth markers. We were at the deep end and I knew it was over my head.
"Jump in" he repeated.
"No way, I'm going to the shallow end."
'Mom told me I better teach you how to swim today and I'm going to."
"Not in the deep end, I can't touch the bottom here!"
He grabbed me from behind, put both arms around me, did a couple of twirls, and threw me in.
I thought I was going to drown. When I came to the surface (probably no more than three seconds), I was cussing at him with everything I had, right up until the time I went back under. As I'm bobbing up and down, my brother is telling me to swim to the side. I didn't know how to friggin' swim and at that point, I was just trying NOT to sink to the bottom. I finally realized that I wasn't very far from the edge and somehow I struggled my way back.
My brother acted like I had done something great.
I wanted him dead!
He said we should go to the shallow end and practice. He was acting very nice (danger!) and persuaded me (dumb dumb dumb) into letting him "take" me out to the fountain using a life saver stroke. He said it was "cool." He very smoothly swam us both to there. Then he swam away.
Yelling from the edge of the pool, he told me to swim to the side. I told him that I didn't know how to swim. He told me that it was going to be a long cold night then, because he wasn't going to help me. I started yelling, but nobody except the kids close to us heard anything. One kid offered to help, but my brother told him to butt out or he'd kick his ass. I hung there for what must have been 30 minutes. Eventually, I somehow half paddled, half drowned my way to the side. I've been swimming ever since. That bastard!
I did learn a valuable lesson from the ordeal...
I made my kids take swimming lessons at such a young an age, that they were very unlikely to remember enough about the torture, to blog about it as adults...