When I was at the Rec Centre today I watched the parents splash around with their water babies as I waited to do my laps in the swirlpool. As my muscles loosened in the hot water I reflected on how I learned to swim.
It was a sunny day by the shores of the lake where the Ogopogo swims. I was playing with my little shovel and my sand bucket having a great time. Then dad thought it would be a good idea for me to learn to swim. He picked me up and walked out on the dock and said, "Here you go Ogopogo," and tossed me into the piss warm water. When it looked like I would not get off the bottom of the lake he had to dive in and haul me out. Some people are born to swim. Turns out I was not one of them.
Several years later I got the hang of it in the much cooler waters of Big Bad Lake. First dog paddling, then treading water and then the fancier stuff. Diving into deep water to grab fresh water clams and shiny rocks was my favourite swimming. When you are little more than skin and bone and have not yet started smoking and drinking beer you can spend a lot of time deep under the surface.
My grandparents in Dope City lived in an apartment with a pool that was 10 feet deep in one end. When I was still pretty young Axel and I were swimming in the pool by ourselves while the grandparents were smoking their fucking heads off upstairs. Those two smoked so much it came out their ass when they farted. Two black guys came into the pool and started swimming with us. They seemed to be good swimmers and started diving to the bottom of the pool like us to pick up stuff off the bottom. We were having a great time until one of them stayed on the bottom of the pool and just lay there like he was taking a nap. I have never seen a person so still since.
The napper's buddy got all panicky but Axel and I ran into the adjoining gym where there was luckily somebody exercizing who could also swim and dive good. We were way too small to be picking people off the bottom of the pool. He ran and jumped straight into the pool and hauled up the guy on the bottom real quick. But he had been napping down there for maybe a couple minutes, maybe more by then.
The rescuer then straddled the dead looking black guy and pressed in on his stomach again and again until he puked his lunch all over the pool deck and started breathing all at the same time. He looked about as healthy as Michael Jackson but he was ok. We ran upstairs, found our grandparents in their smoggy apartment and told them what happened.
It was fucking cool to see a man get brought back from the dead. And all that barf! What a stink!
My mom says if we helped save somebody like that these days someone would make a big deal of it and maybe someone like Wayne Gretzky or a drunken politician would pin an award on our skinny chests.
"It was no big deal, " we would have said in our thick Sliverville accents as the television cameras zoomed in, "It's not like we could let the motherfucker lie there all day."