The Wisdom of Others
Concerning Swimming

"People wish to learn to swim and at the same time to keep one foot on the ground."

~~ Marcel Proust (1927)

"The world is a round gulf and he who cannot swim must go to the bottom."

~~ Spanish Proverb

"Places Where I Have Not Swum"

YWCA . . . head bowed, standing beside the pool, I
said no to all invitations to join the class in the water,
while mother looked on, biting her nails. They told her
to take me home and put me in the bathtub . . . 1960.

2215 Barclay Drive . . . at a neighbor’s pool party,
little Danny Hutchins fell in love with me. He proved it
by chasing me, threatening to throw me in the water.
I slapped him hard and made him cry . . . 1964.

Ocean City, MD . . . Janey and I rented rafts. We drifted
out much too far. The lifeguard I had a crush on blew
his whistle. Mother stood on the hot sand screaming.
Janey pulled me to shore. Afterwards, I only went
to the beach when the lifeguards were off-duty . . . 1972.

J. H. Hallerman High School . . . P.E. class included
swimming laps in the pool. Karen and I always
had cramps on P.E. day. We thought no one noticed
we never swam a stroke. We both got a “D” . . . 1974.

Acapulco, Mexico . . . whenever my husband suggested
I join him in the water, I made an excuse about not
wanting to ruin my hair. He swam alone during
our honeymoon. Eight years later, we divorced . . . 1977.

The only odd part about all this hydrophobia is the vision
of my perfect house. It is a small cottage --- white-framed,
wind-blown, weather-worn --- nestled on the beach
just a tantalizingly few inches from the waves.

© 2000 MJM


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