Story Value

random musings and episodes from the life of a 40 something comidienne/corporate refugee/mom - since whatever doesn't kill you provides excellent story value.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A dip and a plunge

When I was a kid, my favorite season was Autumn. Here in New England, that means apple cider, apple cider donuts, apple pie, apple crisp ... notice a theme? Today, however, I am a seasonal turncoat -- trading in the Autumn apple of my eye for a new sizzlin' season ... Summer.

It was inevitable. I live in a beach town and I own a pool. What's not to love? Growing up, I was pool-less but I didn't see myself as aquatically-disadvantaged. There were only one or two families with pools in our neighborhood of 42 houses (I recall the exact number houses from my paper-route). Pool scarcity provoked our creativity. We pool-less souls invented excuses to loiter on front lawns looking terribly parched while conveying the impression we'd be far more fun to play with if properly re-hydrated.
The pool moms would absent-mindedly supervise our swimming while sunbathing in baby oil -- smoking their Virginia Slims and drinking a couple high-balls on the patio. We were mainly a gaggle of girls and our high-jinks wouldn't exactly make your adrenaline rush. Our big thrills were making a giant whirlpool around by speed walking in unison and then swimming back against the tide. If we were feeling particularly Evil Kneivelish, we'd repeatedly fall backwards into the pool off the deck to "take the Nestea plunge."

My how times have changed as a pool-mom in Testosterone town. As the mother of rambunctious boys, who seem to collect more boys wherever they go... my voice is hoarse -- not from Virginia slims, but from screaming "That's not safe!" about 411 times in any single afternoon.

The same boys who have just barely mastered shoe tying suddenly morph into little MaGuyvers when touched by chlorine. They assemble vast contraptions of pool toys, floats, lawn furniture and playground equipment to better catapult themselves into the water. They have chicken fights, leap and push each other in every conceivable direction and shove one another off the diving board. I wince so frequently I look as though I have a facial tick.

They think this is funny. "Oh mom, Relax" they call. "Yeah, easy to say when you haven't read the liability insurance rider on our home owner's policy," I shout back.

Good gravy. Who am I becoming?

Later that afternoon, I decide to rekindle the fun by offering a thrill suggestion of my own. Over dinner I ask "So, you ever skinny dip?" Both boys eyes widen and they look at each other and say "no," breaking into fits of giggles. "Want to skinny dip tonight?" I ask.

"Yeah!" screams my youngest.
"OK." shrugs my oldest (he's a dude).

That night, we turn on the pool light and turn off the outdoor lights. My 6-year-old little guy is nearly stripped clean before he hits the deck. My 9-year old glances around furtively and sinks below the surface of the water before taking off his bathing suit. I jump in (with my suit on). I'm not creepy.

Suddenly the exhilaration sets in. They both start shrieking with delight and swimming around like little fish. They climb out of the pool showing two little white moons and decide to try the slide au natural. Bare bottoms give a distinct slippery speed advantage and they shoot off the bottom of the slide like little rockets into the night, squealing all the way.

My coolness factor has risen considerably and I am thrilled to find a something fun, safe and exhilarating to do in the pool.

The next day, we go to a water park -- oddly enough named "Water Wizz." I'd like to meet those marketing geniuses. What was rejected? "Poopy pools"?

Naming aside, I do love me a water park. Mmmm, mmm. One of the top three reasons I had children was so that I could continue to frequent water parks without looking like a pedophile. For years my husband and I would go every summer. We'd look freaky I guess -- much older than the teenagers & yet with no children of our own. We came to know park security quite well.

On this day, we have our child accessories and are thrilled to learn that our youngest is now tall enough (48") to ride the thrill rides. Hooray! We immediately set off for some of our old favorite tube slides. Next, we ascend "water mountain" -- an area of the park we have never been to, since the 'little anchor' had held us back. On water mountain, there are high-speed hills you can race down, luge like, on little mats. There are several high-speed inner tube rides and finally, there is the centerpiece attraction -- the Pirate's Plunge.

The Pirate's Plunge is a giant, fully-enclosed black tube, raked at an 80 degree angle. It juts out at a perpendicular angle half way through, and then continues straight down into a water gully that slows riders down, drag race style, until they hit the lazy river. There is an observation deck that straddles the water gully so that park guests can watch and laugh at the unfortunate Pirate plungers who are receiving the water wedgie of a lifetime.

I start suggesting we should try the plunge, believing, in my heart of hearts, that my 9 year old will be too chicken. He is a mini me. He will talk a great game and then find some excuse - a sore foot, belly-ache, mad desire to try another ride - to prevent our going on the plunge. I feel safe talking it up, until he says "Ok, let's do it!" I did not expect to have my bluff called.

We start to ascend the stairs -- many, many, many stairs -- and the pounding in my chest is not just aerobic. I am scared to death. I did not think we'd go through with it. My husband is calm and my 6 year old is dancing with glee. That kid would bungee jump without a second thought. The teen years should be fun.

I decide to try to reason with my 9 year old, making him my 'out'. "That thing looks pretty scary and like it would give you a wicked wedgie," I say. "We can go do something different if you want. We don't have to take the plunge." I see him look at me with what I mistake for gratitude for providing a graceful excuse.

It turns out he's looking over my shoulder at a 4 year old wearing an orange life jacket. This kid is bounding up the steps for his third plunge. My guy lights up. "No mom, let's do it -- that little kid has already done it twice!"
Crap. I think about telling him that a 4 year old doesn't have the sense God gave eggplant, but I know if will fall on deaf ears. Suddenly all three of my boys (husband included) start chanting "Do it, do it, do it!, do it" I am out manned.
My 6 year old starts trash-talking me. "You're a scaredy cat, even a kindergartner takes the plunge!" I redden. Then it starts. They start making the chicken noises, accompanied by the chicken dance. I can't handle that the whole ride home, so -- against my own wisdom -- I agree to plunge.

My little guys goes first, screaming all the way. Not confidence inspiring. Next, my 9 year old takes the plunge, walking a little funny after the dismount, but walking all the same.

I offer for my husband to go next, but he shakes his head. "I want to make sure you don't chicken out." He smiles. That's the problem with twenty-three years -- they allow you to know a person too well.

I step up to the pool platform. It is dark, pitch black in that tube. The only sound is a vague echo of all the water rushing down the super steep incline. I make the sign of the cross and climb in, pulling myself forward with an overhead bar.

Suddenly, I'm free falling with my eyes shut. I hit the midpoint and surprisingly speed up when the water hits my back. In no time, I'm in day light with a wall of water rushing up from my feet to slow me down. I look up and see three sets of hands clapping over my head. "You did it!" they cheer in unison.

Yes I did! I feel scared, proud ... exhilarated. Once I bit the bullet, it was really fun.

That is what summer is all about -- gettin' a little crazy, trying something new, pushing a comfort zone for the story value on the ride home. Over ice cream, we all agreed the Pirate Plunge was the best part of the day, then the boys begged to skinny dip at home.

I feel 10 years old all over again.


Blogger Sam said...

I AM SO JEALOUS!!! :) I don't dare tell Jarrah about all these shenanigans, since she'll demand to get right back on a plane now.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding the Plunge, but I think my fear would be having to be enclosed in something small. I am so claustrophobic. Heights, speed, feh. But small spaces...eek.

And did those Nestea people brainwash an entire generation? We spent all day doing those Nestea plunges, too. :)

6:56 PM  

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