Posts tagged “swimming”.

ROTT: The One that Got Away

1000islandsFor some reason, I was overly fond of pennants, and my old room’s decor, before I slathered the walls with posters of all the new music artists I loved after graduating college, were these souvenir pennants, to show where we had gone on family vacations. I took all of the pennants down in a fit of “this is so uncool” pique in 1985, but I never tossed them out.

I am now tossing them out. Photographing them is much much easier. Except for a few vintage ones made of real felt, these are a styro-board mystery, and there’s no one  to donate them to. So out they will go.

I posted a gallery of them on Facebook, but the one vacation we too that was very different was right before I went to college. It was less glamorous than most of our vacations–we spent a week in a cabin on a lake in the 1000 Islands area of the St. Lawrence river, suspiciously close to Canada, where they lure you in with maple syrup and then brainwash you with bilinguality and the metric system. It was not completely primitive. A TV pulled in good enough reception for me to catch my daily fix of The Edge of Night. I mean, Gunther was on the loose. I couldn’t miss a minute.

I have maybe gone fishing three times in my life, and at least twice, I was the once who either caught the most, the biggest, or the only fish on the trip.

My father had polio when he was six and was left only able to walk using canes. But this didn’t stop him from doing anything he really wanted to do. Sportswise, he was limited to either gambling in Vegas or Atlantic City (and never losing that much, since he was an accountant) and swimming and fishing. As a kid, Grandma hired an off-duty lifeguard to carry Dad into the water and he would scare her to death by swimming out very fa, reducing Grandma to a frantic dot on the shore, waving her hands  and indicating he should head back in.

It’s easy to see why Dad liked swimming so much. The combination of gravity and legs robbed of their muscles made Dad less independent than others. So being able to swim on his own must’ve been very liberating. Gambling at a craps table gave him a sense of excitement. In the late 1940s, a car with hand controls was presented as a gift by Grandpa, because Dad spent many years enduring bad treatments and pointless operations and long separations from his parents and siblings while at the hospitals, waiting for these ill-conceived but well-meant surgeries. When a surgeon in 1995 asked me if I knew why there was a leg muscle in Dad’s abdomen, I knew exactly why.

Anyway, that week in 1981, we went out several times to go fishing. I know I caught at least one fish that fed us one evening–although I know very well that someone else took that fish off the hook. Late in the trip, only Dad and I went out in the small motorboat to go fishing.  We were armed with a depth map of the immediate area. This let me fully utilize my cartophilia (love of maps). We went to a quiet area around one of the 1000 islands, and we waited a bit. It was later in the day–not the time you are supposed to fish. You’re supposed to fish at first light, when I am usually heading to sleep these days.

At one point, there was a tug on the line. I thought it was a mistake at first, but it pulled again, and got stronger. I cannot remember which of us held the fishing pole, and which of us held the net, but a very fat, large fish soon emerged to the surface, fighting every inch of the way. Just as the net was being put under it, the fish broke the line and got free.

Oddly enough, this is probably the only truly exciting anticipatory moment my father and I ever shared. That, and rushing home from Baskin Robbins to see if Ronald Reagan was going to choose Gerald Ford as his running mate (this is the last time I watched a Republican National Convention, btw). We talked about that fish for quite some time. It is probably a better story that it got away, actually. In retrospect, I can see how exciting such an event would be, if you felt you couldn’t really do everything you ever wanted. But Dad pretty much did anything we needed him to do with us. He played baseball with my brother in the backyard, and tossed frisbees to us, and quite frankly, it was a pretty normal childhood.

So much emphasis is placed sometimes on what didn’t happen, instead of what did. And I sometimes wonder if Dad envied that fish, or hoped we would have caught it. I think if anyone valued the concept of independence, it was Dad.

The fishing poles are still in the basement, along with the tackle box. Bought once, used for a week, spending an eternity in the basement.

The Fat Man Always Swims Twice

You know, when you’re overweight, you are well aware you are overweight. Believe me, I know I am overweight. I should sue Dr. Kaplan for telling me in 1981 that I weighed 159 lbs and “probably always will.”

Stupid metabolism!

Of course, there are always people who want to remind you, in case you have forgotten, that you are in fact overweight. Because you never pass a mirror, or buy bigger clothes, etc.

Recently, some jerk on Facebook attacked a friend of mine who also seemed to be reminded publicly that he needed to lose weight. Me, being Mr. Sunshine, insisted on a counterattack, which led to a sassy response from the attacker, but ultimately, a removal of the offensive post, and the attacker retreating completely from Facebook and deleting his profile.

I am gooooood.

In his counterattack on me, he pointed out that I need to lose 100 lbs, which I am sure Dr. Kaplan would agree with, but the funny thing is, in the course of moving last year and moving boxes around and climbing stairs carrying 25-lb boxes… I have lost weight. And I have lost a dress size. But you know something, a lot of people will keep reminding you how obese you are, no matter how well you’ve been doing. I reminded said attacker that I can lose a ton of weight but he will still be an $%^&*.

I hated gym intensely and it wasn’t until I went to college that I “filled out nicely” and then put on a few extra pounds, and then, as they say on AbFab, “another one who’s ballooned.”

But despite my hate of non-coed gym and all-boys teams, I always liked swimming. I even won a swim race in Color War up in camp. So, here I am many years later, finally finding “my sport,” which turns out to be swimming.

At Camp Kent, I got as far as Advanced Swimmer and Junior Lifeguard. I had to swim a quarter of a mile uninterrupted, while a counselor in a rowboat stayed nearby in case I pooped out.

So this year, I joined the local town pool, which has be rebuilt, and includes a lazy river. But I usually try to go to the lanes where they have lap swimming. I don’t know if it is because we come from an aqueous environment in the womb, but I just love being in the water, as do my niece and nephew.

The water is the one place where I just don’t feel like the great potato you see before you (apologies to AbFab again). And I have noticed, under the water, with the help of goggles, that there are a lot of other fat folks in the pool as well. This is encouraging, since so many overweight people don’t want to be seen half naked out in public. But I love the water so much, I don’t care. If I get some stupid comment, believe me, that ship is going down.

But when I am in the water, I actually do feel agile again, and I wind up swimming many more laps than I thought I would. So however fat I might be right now, there’s the thinner me of years ago, who a doctor thought would never gain weight, swimming along with the bigger one.