Why I should learn to swim


I don’t think anyone in my family really knows how to swim.  I think my brother Leonard can swim a little, but that’s it.



We didn’t have a pool when I was a kid.  Nor did we live near placid clean bodies of water.  The local swimmin’ holes – the Lewis River, the Columbia River, Battle Ground Lake – were either too brisk or rocky for swimming, or big bowls of tepid water and bacteria. 



During Peace Corps training in Puerto Rico, I tried to learn.  There were fifteen of us in the training group: twelve other guys going to Morocco, and two women going to the Turks and Caicos Islands.  One of the women was a very nice happy lesbian and didn’t care about the guys at all, except as friends; the other was straight and moderately attractive and was being peppered on all sides by offers of sexual congress from fellow trainees.  She and I liked each other, and I think she found my company peaceful, as I wasn’t trying to get her into bed.  Anyway, she tried to teach me to swim in the Caribbean, with the barracudas darting around our feet, and the straight guys in our group were very envious of me as I was being held in the water by my ladyfriend.



But I can’t really swim, to this day.  (They tried to teach me to float.  Depending on what I happen to be wearing on any particular day, I may be able to float.)



Years ago, when I was a kid, my family went to Copalis, Washington, to dig clams and play on the beach.  I was left alone to play.  Apparently the tide came in very rapidly.  I remember (vividly) playing in the sand.  I remember the water coming in rapidly, but I wasn’t worried about it.  Then I heard screaming, and my family ran through the rapidly-deepening water and scooped me up – and then I was concerned. 



My memory is in black-and-white, but very sharp.  I wasn’t scared until I heard the screams and the people running toward me.



Ah well. Here I am today.



Let the chips fall where they may, kids. 



Here’s to another hundred years of foolish heedless living.




About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

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