Archive | May 2013

Dying in the Deep End

We spent Memorial Day at Splash Country with the kids. And, that caused me to think back thirty years to the day I almost died. Of embarrassment.

My mother never learned to swim as a child. So, once Mom became a mom, she had to learn to swim, which was entirely different than learning to actually like swimming. Swimming for my mother was an exercise in getting minimally wet while supervising us in what she saw as a death defying activity. I’m pretty sure I’ve only ever seen my mother’s hair wet from “swimming” maybe five times in my lifetime. Maybe.

The need to learn to swim led to me and my younger sister standing with noses pressed up against the second floor YMCA observatory window while the adult swim class clung frightfully to the pool edge below. Mom was decked out in the finest 1970’s rubber swim-cap with rubber flower clusters dotting the scalp, much like a powder blue hydrangea hugging the wall. I imagine the swimming instructor saying to Mom “Yes, Mrs. Sweet, in the water. Your face must go in the water.”

Fast forward to when I was about thirteen and my sister was about eleven. Ogle’s Water Park in Pigeon Forge was our favorite place and a real treat. They had a giant wave pool and inflatable inner tubes. The horn blew at regular intervals to signal the waves were starting and the inevitable screams of swimmers followed shortly after. The other swimmers’ screams were of eager anticipation. But, on this day it was Mom’s death rattling screams that prevailed.

We’ll never know what possessed Mom to decide that this was the day to go all out and bob around in the wave pool. Now, the waves –as posted on the sign on the wall—were large and strong. This was no sissy wave pool. Experienced swimmers only. We were strangely delighted and horrified that our mother, the tadpole worrywart, was all in for the wave pool.

So, we tried our best to warn her. Now, Mom, whatever you do, do NOT go to the wall to exit the wave pool!! Only exit it by swimming or bobbing back on an inner tube back to the shallow area!! The wall in the deep end did not have a ladder to climb, rather the steps were inset crevices with metal bars parallel at the top of each crevice so that you essentially climbed the straight face of Mt. Everest with no safety harness all while timing your climb in between the pounding waves which were much more forceful at the wall.

Mom did not heed our advice. She ditched her inner tube, headed for the wall, and quickly began drowning. Not figuratively, literally. The waves overpowered her. And, with regular rhythm, she would gain a toehold, gasp a breath, then scream and swallow more water before being submerged again. Mom, who trained in opera earlier in her life could sing and scream a High C. Aaagh! Strange gurgling silence. Aaaaghh! Strange silence. And so on.

My sister and I watched horrified. But not because Mom might die. No, because we were dying of embarrassment. Mom? Um, no we don’t know that woman. Wow, she can really scream. Wonder who that is?

The lifeguard stood up in his chair with safety belt at the ready. Then, he did a swan dive into the pool and surfaced right under Mom’s behind. He pushed Mom up the wall from behind, or rather, with his hands on her behind. And, mercifully, the place went quiet. The waves subsided and so did the screaming. My sister and I slinked, as best as one can slink on an inner tube, to the shallow end and then to the lounge chairs where Mom sat—totally wet from swimming.


My sister traveled to Washington, D.C. for business the latter part of this week. She is staying in a swanky hotel, the kind with fabulous views and sleek furnishings, and occupied by well-dressed people there on important business.

While talking to me on the cell phone in the elevator yesterday, repetitive robotic messages identifying the location of the elevator began sounding off and then I heard a third voice in the background, as if over a loudspeaker. “Oops. Hold on a sec.” Cyndi lowered her phone and I heard her say apologetically, “No, no, there’s no problem.” Followed by more muffled sounds over the elevator speaker- a woman‘s voice perhaps—and my sister sheepishly laughing while saying, “Yes, sorry about that. It was an accident. A total accident. I’m fine. Yes, thank you. ” My sister managed to stand too close to the button panel where her purse depressed the emergency button which in turn alerted the front desk to utilize the intercom for a wellness check.  (I hope she will be okay the rest of the trip without me to plan and look out for her.)

When Joel and I were married only nine months, we traveled to Israel for a two week study tour as part of Joel’s graduate degree, including several days in Jerusalem, the Holy City. We stayed in a nice hotel, the sort that offered room service. How convenient, because I am the sort that loves room service. Joel, to my surprise, did not love, nor even like, room service, and had not fully appreciated in the few short months of wedded bliss that a happy wife equals a happy life, especially when that wife is hot and tired. 

After a long, dusty, blazingly desert hot day among the ruins, we retired quite late to our room. Ah, a milkshake. Wouldn’t that taste good? Joel disagreed with the cost of a milkshake delivered by room service. I, in turn, disagreed with Joel. All was not harmonious in Jerusalem and the term holy might have been used by me as a adjective and not in religiously respectful manner. So, determined to at least obtain a milkshake by some other means, I struck out for the lobby.

Now 11 p.m., I found myself alone in a narrow elevator wide enough for only two people. The mirrors on the ceiling, walls, and doors failed to create the illusion of space. Suddenly, the elevator stopped in between the 7th and 8th floors. I rang and rang and rang the alarm button.  Enough alarm bells to wake the dead. Nothing happened. Inexplicably, after thirty minutes of ringing the alarm, the elevator magically descended to the lobby. The doors opened and the hotel manager, a well dressed man of Middle Eastern heritage wearing a suit and tie, apologized profusely. Okay, no problem. I am fine. With single-minded purpose, I asked, “Could I please have a milkshake?” “Oh (pause), no. It is the Sabbath and the kitchen is now closed.”

A second uniformed employee approached, Lurch’s Middle Eastern twin, wearing a belt of jangly keys on several round hoops about his hips. No, thank you. I do not want to ride with this stranger alone in the elevator, and more specifically, I do not want to ride that elevator. “Please, please, it is fine! He will make sure you get to your room“, the manager assured me. He ushered us back into the elevator against my better judgment.

As the hotel handyman and I became better acquainted standing shoulder to shoulder yet avoiding eye contact in the mirrors, you can guess what happened next.  Exactly. We came to a jerking halt, again, in between the 7th and 8th floors. The handyman slowly swiveled his head downward toward me and exhaled. I said only, “I told you so.” This time, he rang the bells. Fifteen minutes later the elevator descended again, where the doors slid open to reveal the extremely apologetic hotel manager wringing his hands. He ushered us through the closed kitchen —oh, the irony—- to the private service elevator and after an uneventful ride up, the perfectly gentlemanly employee escorted me all the way to our room door, the last one on the hallway and the furthest walk from the elevator bay.

Now Midnight in a foreign land and still milkshake deprived, I entered our room hopefully wondering if my newlywed husband missed me. Apparently not.  There he lay snoring loudly. Well, holy…..!


I recently texted on two different occasions that either were the right message sent to the wrong person, or the wrong message sent to the right person.

Occasionally, we ask a young woman to help us clean the house.  So, in anticipation of her visit that morning while we weren’t home, I texted her the details of how to get  in the house and where the supplies were stored and that Joel would be home later in the day.  Except that the reason I texted for Joel being home was utterly and completely wrong:

I:  Joel should be home in time to pat you.
Her:  Ok.
I: PAY you! Not pat you!  Agh.

Darn you, auto-correct! I just made a simple and honest plan sound so perverted and twisted.  Good grief.  Hope she’ll return!

But, the best unintentional text was this:

My sister recently interviewed for a new position with a different company and in the week or two ahead of the interview, she shopped for a new suit and accessories.  I offered virtual advice through texts and emails and review of photos that she sent me from dressing rooms clothed in potential outfits, along with the occasional phone call to emphasize that she needed a new lipstick color.  (She really needed a brighter lipstick!  I had been teasing her about that even before the job interview.  Spoiler alert….she got the job!  I know it was the lipstick that did it for her…… and maybe her winning personality and strong credentials didn‘t hurt either.)  So, in the midst of my virtual fashionista / bossy big sister strong-arming, I texted her:

I: Put on whole outfit including all accessories and text photo to me…..lipstick too.

Ding. I heard Joel’s iPhone text message alert.  I hollered for him to check his texts since he was in the other room and usually his church members text him about assorted church things.  Joel walked into our bedroom, picked up his phone from the nightstand, read the text and said casually to me, “Huh??  Well, okaaaayyy.”  He laughed a deep rolling belly laugh as he peered at me over his drugstore readers.

Oh no!  I didn’t text Cyndi.  I texted that to Joel!  Wrong, definitely wrong meaning altogether!  But, after I posted a blurb on Facebook about the misdirected text asking him to accessorize and wear lipstick, some of our friends noted Joel’s seemingly compliant and non-bothered response .  Comments to my post included:

“If Joel does as instructed and takes a pic, you better post it for all to see.”; and
“Whoa! TMI re our pastor!  He said okay!  LOL“;

And then there were these slightly more knowing comments:

“Seems like I have seen Joel in lipstick too….hmmmmm?”; and
“Haha!  I think I remember a Halloween costume?”

Yes, friends.  Joel was quizzically lackadaisical in his response because like many men before him who have cross-dressed for a laugh or fame and fortune—-think Robin Williams as “Mrs. Doubtfire“, or Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in “Some Like It Hot“, or Dustin Hoffman as “Tootsie“, or Tom Hanks in “Bosom Buddies“—-I have proof of Joel fully sequined and bejeweled, wearing fire engine red lipstick,  a demurely flipped lavender coiffure, and more turquoise eye-shadow than you would find on a peacock.  You might want to avert your eyes or look away. What?  You say you want to see that?  Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you:

photo (6)            photo (7)   photo (8)  photo (9)

Joel dressed up as Dame Edna for Halloween a couple of years ago, to the surprised delight of many.  Joel went all in for it too….check out the nail polish on fingers and toes—his idea.  Oh, and the open-toes silver shoes?  He found those himself in a local slightly used shoe store, size 13 Ladies.  They show off his delicate ankles quite nicely, don’t you think?   (Oh, and I am the blonde hippie next to him, by the way.)

After we came home that Saturday night, I did my best to remove the coral colored polish.  But, it was late and we were tired.  That next morning as Joel gave his sermon and gestured in the pulpit, I noticed traces of the polish still lining his cuticles.

Joel good-naturedly agreed to this post and the questionable fame, or perhaps infamy, that will result?  However, he is still waiting on the fortune to follow from my blog posts about him, which as of yet, have not panned out in that regard as he hoped.