Friday, April 06, 2012

Seals or . . . ?

Swimming practice for a parent can have some amusing moments. The Little Buccaneer is now on a swim team, and so I sit at poolside for an hour two or three times a week and read and occasionally watch as he swims with his young mates. (It's slightly shocking to consider that at the age of 8 he swims faster than I ever have. That's not saying much, but I ain't the slowest fish in the water either, even at just over half a century of age.) I actually love it because I get to read a considerable amount, which I never do at home.

Last night I was deep into "Lady in the Lake" by Raymond Chandler. It had me in that chortling mood anyway because Philip Marlowe is at his wisecracking best in that novel. I was sitting in my camp chair against a wall at one end of the pool, facing down the lanes to the other end. The 8 year olds were at the other side of the pool from me, and I was sitting near one end of the lanes occupied by the teenagers on the team.

I looked up at one moment, just to take a break and see what the kids were doing. As I raised my eyes, 12 swim-capped, begoggled heads slowly rose from the water and seemed to peer at me. It alarmed me slightly, then I just had to laugh. One or two of them scowled at me, as if to say, "What's funny here, you old fart?"

It was completely weird how they all emerged at the same moment, at the same speed. I had a brief vision of a gang of malevolent seals who had finally cornered me, and were preparing flop across the deck and rend me to bloody shreds. Then the humor of the scene kicked in, and I wished that I'd brought my camera. You'd see them here if I had.

It dawned on me that they were looking at the clock, which I then noticed had been placed over to my left facing right down the center lane of the pool. They were watching to see when they needed to launch again. As one, they suddenly submerged and kicked off the wall, coming up to begin their strokes about 4 or 5 yards down the course.

I went back to Marlowe and his encounter with Chris Lavery's landlady.


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