Sunday, July 19, 2009

Gone Swimming '70s Style

I have always loved to swim. I can't remember not knowing how. My mom says my father threw me in when I was a baby and I just swam. But let it be known that I am not a swimmer. That would entail some sort of graceful knowledge and enactment of the strokes... front, back, butterfly, side, breast. I can do a little of them all, but mostly I'm a mermaid. I can swim underwater forever. I can dolphin dive. I can tread like a mad woman and hold my breath for hours. I can flip and tumble and do several summer salts without holding my nose. Talented, I know.

When I was little everyone in my life knew the best way to please me would be to bring me swimming. And the woman whose life's ambition it was to please me the most was my gram. She didn't have a pool at her pre Trump era look alike casa in the suburbs, but her closest doctor's wife friend did. They had a tight circle, those doctors wives... so tight that when my papa died early of a heart attack they circled my gram right out of their lives like phlegm.

Maryavene was her name. Well it was really Mary Avene, but gram always said both names together so I thought it was her first name. Her house was even more decked out with pleather and crystals, black lacquer accent pieces and flocked wall paper than my gram's house. It was WILD. Anyway... she also had an above ground pool in the sprawling back yard. It was a rectangular one though, fancy with a deck and a deep end. I was giddy to get in it. I remember wanting to tell them to SHUT UP with the gossip already, stop feeding me jello and soda and get me the heck in that pool!

I was all ready, the old ladies were sitting on the lounge chairs with their drinks ready to pretend to watch me preform while really continuing their conversation breaking every now and then for a "Wonderful!" "Look at Esther Williams over here!" and "You okay?"

And then my gram realized that the deep end of that pool was over my head, and mermaid or not Fay (gram) wouldn't have me drown on her watch, so she got in. The old lady got in the pool.

I wont forget it for many reasons. She took off her cover up and I noticed how nice she looked in her bathing suit. She wasn't fat at all, just round in all the right places. And she put on an amazing bathing cap with big colorful daises popping out all over it. She was a swimming flower. And the skirt on her bathing suit floated out behind her like a tail....

Mostly though, it was the lagoon that won't let me forget the day. At some point I got tired and she picked me up in the water and held me, swimming around with my legs wrapped around her. She positioned herself in the hot sun and warmer spots in the shallow end. My head was lazy on her coppertoned shoulder and I looked down at the space between her chest and my torso. As she bobbed up and down the water slooshed in and suctioned out creating a secret pool for just the two of us. A warm nook of blue that spoke volumes of love and comfort.

Two mermaids floating on the calm surface of a chlorine afternoon.


  1. :)
    sum lines there were like completely mesmerising.
    on the whole i really enjoyed reading it.

  2. That's a beautiful story. Thanks

  3. So beautifully written I can smell the chlorine and feel the warmth. Thanks, Mermaid, for that watery wonderland.

  4. Suzanne you are the QUEEN of nostalgia!

    And just another thing that ties us.... I LOVE to swim. We have a cabin on the lake that I've spent every summer at since I was born. All of my best memories are from that beach! And even now that water seems so much colder and at 35 I should be more mature.... but yesterday I spent an hour diving off the dock and swimming back to the ladder over and over again!

  5. What a beautiful memory of you and your grandmother. What a sweet, tender thing she did by swimming with you.

  6. This is beautiful! Thank you for sharing. It brightened my day. :D

  7. I felt like I was in that pool! I love swimming too. We live near the beach and as a kid I can't remember a day going by in summer that we weren't running around with sand between our toes and the sea still dripping from our hair. Great memories. Loved your post. It brought a smile to my face :)

  8. All! You are so nice to me. XO