Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Today at the pool...

Today at the pool, we had two separate incidents that added flavor and color to our Fourth of July celebrations.

Even though the sky was very overcast, we decided to go ahead and go to the swim club. Storms were forecast, but there's nothing more frustrating than deciding to cancel plans and stay home on account of the weather, only to have the sun shine merrily down on the house where everyone is disappointed and grouchy and yelling at one another.

So we went an hour early, bringing so much stuff with us, it looked like we were setting up a refugee camp. There were already about twenty-five people in line ahead of us at the doors and everyone was in a party mood in spite of the grey skies.

When we got inside, we found four chairs and my husband and I began to set up our camp while the girls complained about the grey skies, the cold pool water, the lack of cute boys visible from where we were sitting and our cooler's contents, which consisted mostly of bananas, grapes, apples and bottled water.

My husband and I had two deck chairs side by side, and I asked my husband if he could move the cooler (about the size and weight of a minivan) between our two seats so that we could use it as a side table. He moved it forward somewhat, but I pointed out that we wouldn't be able to reach our drinks because they would be back by our shoulders. So he hitched the cooler forward another ten inches and across the big toe on my right foot, bending my toenail halfway back.

It hurt. It really, really hurt. And thank goodness I had a rosary lashed to the handles of my tote bag in plain view, because I wanted to say every cuss word I've ever learned, some of which I know in three languages, at the top of my lungs. It was hard to believe that so much pain could be caused by an innocuous cooler and I felt that maybe I should contact the people at Coleman to let them know that they should be working with the United States government to get defense contracts, because their coolers? They could totally be used as weapons. Forget those gazillion dollar Patriot missiles. Our military could be aiming Coleman coolers filled with ice, bananas, apples, bottled water and grapes at targets and doing huge amounts of damage for approximately $50 per launch.

My husband noticed that I'd gone completely still, standing there looking at that rosary and thinking must...not...cuss...must...not...cuss.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

"You ran over my big toe with the cooler," I said.

"Oh. Did it hurt?" he asked.

"No, not much. I'm sure the surgeon will be able to re-attach it," I groaned, sinking down onto my chair and cradling my foot like a newborn baby.

It throbbed unmercifully for the rest of the afternoon, but somewhere around 2:30, something else happened that made me forget all about my toe.

My husband and I were sitting and reading, exchanging languid remarks every now and then, and really enjoying our relaxing afternoon. He had a cheeseburger with the works for lunch and I had a grilled cheese sandwich. It was fun watching all the happy people around; kids jumping into the pool and kids walking by with cotton candy spun almost as big as themselves and adults with babies, adults with pool floats, adults with hot dogs, adults with other adults, talking and laughing and having fun.

But just like Dad Boy the other day, another sound hit my husband and I at the same time. This voice was saying "Dad" too, but it wasn't chirping it over and over again. It was saying, "Dad...blub blub blub....Daddy....blub glub....Daglub..."

We both searched for the source of the sound and saw a little boy of about nine years old near the middle of the (very, very large) swimming pool. He was swimming, sort of. He had a face mask and a snorkel and he was barely keeping his head above water. Actually, he was under the water more than he was above it, and it quickly became plain that he wasn't calling wolf.

"Honey, that kid," my husband, a non-swimmer, said urgently. "Look! He's not going to make it to the side."

The problem with being handicapped is that there's just no quick movement allowed. I cast a quick glance around to see if anyone else was going to get up, but the people nearest us were all staring in horror and seemed rooted to the spot. I knew I couldn't jump in myself because of my knee, but I'll tell you what -- there's nothing wrong with my mouth. Just ask my brother.

"GUARD!" I screamed. "LIFEGUARD!"

The guard nearest to us immediately stood up and grabbed his life preserver. I pointed to the boy, who had nearly made it to the edge, but was still way under the water, flailing and floundering. He got to the edge just as the lifeguard jumped down from his chair and we both went to the side of the pool, the lifeguard reaching down and knackily lifting the little boy out of the water by his armpits and leading him on the deck chair next to mine.

"Are you okay? Are you all right?" we both asked him in an anxious chorus as we all sat down.

The little boy's shoulders were heaving as he struggled to get air inside him and he urked up some water and coughed. "Yeah," he said in a tremulous voice.

"What happened, buddy?" the lifeguard asked, pounding him on the back a little.

"My snorkel," the boy said, holding it up. He began to shake uncontrollably from the shock and the lifeguard and I wrapped my towel around his shoulders. "I was snorkeling, but water went in my snorkel and I breathed it in and I choked and I tried to stand up, but I didn't know the water was over my head."

"Oh, honey," I said, patting him sympathetically. "Oh, how awful. But you're okay now, right? Just scared?"

"Yeah," he said manfully, but his lower lip trembled.

"How about if I stay here with you for a few minutes until you've coughed up all that water and then we'll go find your mom and dad," the lifeguard said in an agreeable tone.

"Yeah, that'd be good," said the boy, who was still quivering.

Just then, the skies opened and rain came down like it was being poured out of a boot. The lifeguard, the boy and I were sitting there, all three of us getting wetter than we already were. The other guards stationed around the pool blew their whistles for rest period. Kids began climbing out of the pool, complaining good-naturedly.

"I think I'm okay now," the boy said, heaving a sigh. "I'm gonna go find my dad."

"Okay," said the guard.

"I'm glad you're all right," I said. He smiled at me and said "Thanks" and handed me my towel back and walked away toward the snack bar, clutching his mask and snorkel.

We left soon afterward, since we'd already been there for four hours. My toe commenced hurting. The lifeguard went off on break and I didn't see the boy again.

2 comments:

Lilly said...

What a day! It's a good thing your mom radar was working and you heard the kid drowning. Poor baby toe...

Kbg said...

Wow...you're a hero! Or is it heroess?! Thank goodness you were there...what a nightmare that could have been.