As a child, I was a bit of a hermit. Oh sure, I went to school, church and to visit relatives. But basically I could be found at home; reading, writing, watching TV, listening to music, drawing or day-dreaming a way out of my existence. During better times, Mom tried to find me something to do, outside, especially in the summertime.
One year, I think I might have been around ten, she decided that I had to go to the boys club, (it was really a kids club-they just hadn't changed the name yet) for swimming lessons.
Hello?? Swimming? I HATE FREAKING SWIMMING? Doesn't anyone EVER listen to the GIRL?
Besides, just before the end of the school year, I'd been labeled gifted. Which to my mind meant that I stayed awake, listened to the teacher, did what I was told and every so often stepped outside the box and did more. In my neighborhood, the gifted label made you a pariah, fodder for every bully in the tri-county area and in the summertime, they were ALL at the POOL.
Left with no choice, I packed my swim gear and fear in a plain duffel to brave the pool. It was my hope that my older brother would offer some insulation from the kids who were just waiting to whale on the nerdy, goody-two-shoes, gift girl. He did, until he decided it was more fun to join in with the tormenting of me. Ah, to be ten, again.
I spent that summer at the pool. To say I learned how to swim would be putting a too generous title on what I did (do) in the water. I did come in third place at the summer-ending Olympics. Mom, proud of my ribbon, let me have two friends over for crackers with jelly and Kool-Aid, well, they had Kool-Aid, because of my allergies, I had to have Yoo-Hoo .
Years later I confessed that 1. There were only three people in the *race* and 2. To ribbon, I just had to get across the pool.