A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota Idaho, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Synchronize This

A previous post about my childhood trauma with grapefruit was so much fun (and quite cathartic) that I thought I'd wander down the path of fuzzy memories yet again.

For those who have never been lucky enough to come into close contact with synchronized swimming, there are a couple of things you need to know. First of all, it strikes me as a somewhat difficult sport. There’s a lot of extended durations of holding ones breath, or being underwater upside down, along with some strenuous swimming and treading water. But other than the physical requirements, there’s a lot of weird beauty pageant elements to the whole thing that freak me out today, let alone as a seven year old. All participants are wearing a nose plug, swim cap, have lots of waterproof makeup on, are constantly smiling, and I think have Vaseline on their teeth to help them/make them smile more/better. Weird to me now, really weird as a kid. Actually to a seven year old these girls (who due to my age were already icky and cootie ridden) looked like aliens.

Twice a week for an entire summer my little brother and I would go with my Mom and sister to Helix High School in East County of San Diego. I couldn't quite tell you how long practice was, since as a seven year old, all concepts of time and space are not yet fully grasped. The practice probably ran about an hour, hour and half, but we'll be conservative and say it lasted an hour. So what did my brother and I get to do for this hour? That's right, sit in the bleachers with my Mom and watch synchronized swimming practice. You may have at some point accidentally happened upon synchronized swimming while watching coverage of the Olympics, or maybe a sadistic significant other tried to force you to watch it on the Oxygen network, and in case you're wondering, yes I can confirm that it's just as boring live in person, possibly even more so. Now imagine how boring this activity is when it's just the practice. Mind numbingly, bone achingly boring, magnified by the fact that I'm a seven year old kid who just wants to run around and poke things (or my little brother) with a stick.

The culmination of this synchronized class, what all these little girls were training for, was the big recital at the end of the session. All the parents would show up, sit on the cold metal bleachers, and glowingly watch their daughters spin around in unison underwater. This particular class was preparing their performance to the tune of "The Rainbow Connection", the song that Kermit the Frog sang in The Muppet Movie. I probably heard this song several dozen times per session, perhaps a thousand times over the course of that summer. More often than not it the same snippet that would play over and over and over as a particular move/sequence was practiced over and over and over while the coach would yell "no no no, when you come out of the water, you smile, then spin to the left, not the right", and other helpful, life altering truisms.

All summer my brother and I would sit there and watch the splashing water and the coaches shouting instructions and wonder what we'd ever done to deserve this. Perhaps the subtle nuances of all the complex underwater maneuvers were lost on us since, well we couldn't see what the hell was going on underwater, but we really didn't care. Every so often my brother and I would start up some little kid bitching and my Mom would let us run around on the grass behind the bleachers. On special occasions we'd get to bring along an awesome toy like a tennis ball, and we would make up fun games like "throw the tennis ball back and forth". It was great.

I couldn't really tell you what happened the day of the big performance, since all of the Rainbow Connections blended together into one great big happy mass of Kermitty positive energy and hopeful attitude. The moral of the story is that anytime I see a Muppet (especially Kermit), hear the Rainbow Connection, or god forbid see a snippet of synchronized swimming, it takes me back to that fun summer of sitting there watching synchronized swimming practice, feeling my brain getting numb. Good times.

No comments: