Sports. I don’t like them. Water sports. Even worse. A decade ago I happened to be around the innocent age of eight. My family lived in the proximity of a beautiful lake and we owned a solid boat. Thus when the summer heat arrived we decided to boat out onto that deep blue lake for an evening trapped between the heat of the sun and the freezing water; but being hard working Americans, simply enjoying the calm of the lake was not exciting enough! Thankfully my parents understood this and were equipped for the task— bringing both waterskis and wakeboards. After demonstrating their skills at their preferred water sport, they thought that it was due time to teach my brother and I how to waterski (We both liked winter skiing).
My brother volunteered to learn first. He slid the skis into place and flopped into the water. The boat drifted away leaving but one rope in my brother’s grubby hands and my mother shouted out the proper readying orientation and basic technique. Then my brother claimed to be ready. Our boat leisurely accelerated, gliding over the water, and my brother slowly rose from a near seated position beneath the water to a— slam! His face unflatteringly met with the solid water and that rope skipped away. The accelerating boat quickly turned back and circled as a shark might do to its wounded prey.
After a short recovery, my brother wiggled toward the rope and grasped it in his hands. Once more my mother shouted directions for him to follow and soon he claimed to be ready. From the water he rose until— slam! Yet, as this cycle of failure continued, the time he stood above the water lengthened. Nonetheless, he promptly became sore and desiring of the safety of the boat and returned. Then he handed the rope and the skis to me.
With a gasp I slid into the cold water. As the boat drifted away leaving but a rope, my mother repeated the directions she told my brother. At the end though, she expanded with the wise advice of, “Whatever happens, don’t let go of the rope.” I sorted this information in my mind as I attempted to mimic my brother’s almost seated ready position and screamed, “Ready!” The boat accelerated and I rose upward on the current of water, maintaining a death grip upon that rope, my lifeline. Then I began a slow descent back into the water. No slam. No drama. Just a smooth, patient descent.
The slide downward continued on until the water surged against my waist, then chest, then head, then completely submerged me. Now being young with appalling eyesight, I shielded my two eyes with goggles firmly in place. These goggles served me well. I maintained open eyes beneath the surface of the water and, being entirely below the water, began the process of evaluating my mother’s advice. “Whatever happens, don’t let go of the rope!” This predicament certainly qualified under “whatever,” but might this perhaps be an exception?
As I debated, water continued to stream by and with it its contents, such as fish. (I clearly remember seeing fish— though my mother assures me that I am incorrect.) Thoughtfully I decided that this situation qualified for an exception to the rule. With a mere release of that rope I immediately resurfaced. Still no slam— just a graceful resurface. From that point on, I never attempted waterskiing again and I’m a better person for that. Obviously.