Girls Just Want to Have “Fun-gi” Linda Knight Seccaspina
I stood there and peered through the chain link fence watching the cutest boy in town make a spectacular dive into the town pool and melted. The summer had begun and I had yet to make decisions between sitting at home reading my books, or doing something really special. Would it be sitting under a tree reading the latest Nancy Drew or would I be learning how to be an Olympic style swimmer? I wanted to stand on the diving board, jump into the air and amaze my friends. No one was going to stand in my way even though I was petrified of water.
Anyone that knows me is quite aware of my fear of anything to do with water. It began the day my late mother stood me on the end of a lake pier much like Patty McCormick from the film The Bad Seed. Over and over she told me not to stare into the water less my reflection pulled me in. Of course I stared into the water, fell in, and needed to be rescued.
After telling my best friend about my summer vacation dream she told me I should start small by conquering a lake first. So the next Sunday at Selby Lake I slowly ventured into the water inch by inch. I thought that swimming might not take all that long to learn until one of my friends came roaring out of the lake covered in blood suckers.
As I stood on terra firma and watched a few men try to burn the suckers off the boy’s body with a lighter I suddenly thought that this might not be the best idea. Sure enough, that first day I stood there at the Cowansville pool feeling quite alone, shuddering from fear and looking very uncool wearing a rubber swim cap.
Not only am I afraid of water, but I also have an issue with feet, germs and wetness. After exiting the change room I had to figure out how to walk to the mandatory shower and exit without my feet touching the floor. I tried very earnestly to put my foot down on the wetness of the concrete, but all I could feel was imaginary bacterial ooze crawling through my toes. I closed my eyes, ran under the shower as quick as I could, and then stood by the end of the pool.
Actually I stood on the edge of that pool for about 7 days and then graduated to sitting on the edge until the instructors became very concerned. Was Linda ever going to swim, or would she end her summer vacation still being a landlubber? Finally one day I courageously stood on the ladder and slowly descended into the blue water. For another two weeks I spent most of my time in the water but now only desperately clutching the edge of the pool with my hands.
Every lesson I would assume the same position until one day I made a miraculous headway. As I approached the pool one morning for lessons I saw the town fire truck parked right next to it. It seems that someone either polluted the water with their bacterial laden feet or there had been way too many “accidents” in it. The fire trucks were filling the pool, which was now only 4 inches deep, and I quickly ran through the germ laden floor, down the ladder and into the pool. With the water lapping dangerously around my ankles I mimicked every swimming style known to man air guitar style. I was finally in my element and was achieving my summer goal. I was swimming!
To this day I do not swim in lakes and still have fear of water due to the movie Jaws premiering years later. However, my biggest fear was met that very day I achieved my first diving board jump. I did not drown, but a week later I had a strange rash on my face that grew with the speed of light. I had contacted what is called Staphylococcus Aureis, or in layman’s terms- Impetigo. Some people blamed the water, but in my mind I knew where I got it from–it had to be the concrete changing room floor. But, in the end strong delusions travel around like cold germs on a sneeze. As my Grandmother treated my rash she said to me:
“Just wash your hands my birdie and say your prayers, because germs and Jesus are everywhere!”
Can I get an Amen?