Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Father's Day Eve At The Beach

It’s the middle of June. MJ’s out of school. It’s a Saturday. There was no chance that we weren’t going to go to the beach. It wasn’t all fun and games for me. I wanted to swim in the ocean as soon as I could to get a feel for it. My triathlon is coming up. I’m glad that I didn’t blow this off.

Swimming in the ocean is much different than swimming in a pool. The one thing that I didn’t expect – and didn’t really notice until I was done swimming – was how much easier it is to move through saltwater than fresh water. The things I did expect were much worse than I expected. I brought my water resistant watch because I wanted to time myself. I was all set to head out when MJ made me take it off because sharks like shiny things and she didn’t want me to get eaten. I thought she was being silly but I took it off. That battle wasn’t even close to being worth fighting.

After I was swimming I realized that being phlegmatic about shark attacks while standing on dry land and being phlegmatic about shark attacks while swimming in murky water are two very different things. The water was calm – a Lake Atlantic day – and I was never deeper than five feet, but I still haven’t seen the bottom. I had goggles on but couldn’t see more than 18 inches in front of me. I was also swimming alone, which is a pretty big no-no in the ocean.

This led to two instances of absolute butthole puckering terror. I don’t know how long I was in the water. Remember, MJ made me take my watch off, but I swam from about 6th street to about 10th street. Both instances happened the same way. I was thinking about how easy the swim was going, which somehow led to me thinking about how I couldn’t see and how I wouldn’t know if a shark was there until it bumped into me or bit me. I thought about how it wouldn’t be that big of a deal if the shark bit me on the leg, if it wasn’t that big of a shark. But a big shark could bite me in the side and eat my liver and I’d die right there – I GOTTA GET OUTTA THE WATER! All this went through my mind in an instant. The first time it happened I stopped swimming, stood up, took my goggles off and had to think about whether or not it was worth it. I knew if I got out of the water I’d never get back in so I kept swimming.

Strangely, other than the two instances of abject terror, I never thought about it. I thought about swimming straight and if I was splashing enough for MJ and how far fisherman cast their lines.

I got a fishing line wrapped around my arm. After I was done being annoyed – go find your own ocean a-hole – I felt kind of bad wondering if the guy thought he’d caught something. I swear I almost caught me a 230lb. Blackfish, but I was casting 60lb. test so I really didn’t have much of a chance. I also thought the waves would push me in and the swim back to land would be the easiest part. I was wrong. Undertow sucks.

I felt great getting out of the water, even if I was a little bit out of breath, and started the run back to base camp. I figured why not simulate as much as I can of the event. I’d never run immediately after a swim, and I was surprised by how heavy I felt. It wasn’t that my swimsuit was waterlogged; it was that I was much lighter floating in the water. I got used to the air not holding up as much of my fat ass as the ocean and cruised what I’m assuming was the ¼ mile run.

When I got back the whole crew was playing in the water. LMJ was wearing her brand new crab floaty and trying some kind of joint manipulation to get her mom to let go of her so she could swim by herself. She hasn’t been this comfortable in the ocean since before she could really walk.

After everyone was tuckered out from swimming and playing we were sitting on the beach and saw a whole pod of dolphins slowly making their way south. They were about 50 yards off shore or much closer to shore than I was when I was swimming. I can’t even imagine how much of a little girl I would have sounded like when I started shrieking if I had seen a fin pop out of the water between me and the shore. I’m glad that I was on the beach as they swam by because seeing dolphins (from the shore) in the wild is magical. The beach was pretty crowded and everyone stopped to watch them. It wasn’t just us.

As good as the dolphins were they weren’t as good as LMJ, who saved the best line of the day for when we were getting ready to leave. I was standing in the nonexistent surf when she came running up to me and said, “Daddy, it’s time to go home.” I asked her if that’s what Mommy said, and without batting an eye she said, “No, that’s what I said.”