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Greetings. my fellow port swillers!

My friends, I’m sure some of you are already well aware of this, but I am here to tell you:  For pure, concentrated discomfort and boredom, there cannot be anything more excruciating than sitting through an offspring’s swim meet.  Especially one indoors.  Especially one indoors at a pool far removed from one’s usual haunts, and therefore full of people one doesn’t know.

The youngest gel is doing a winter swim training program this year.  Practices are twice a week in the evenings and, from what I understand, they really drill the kiddies hard.  The gel is absolutely thriving on it.

At any rate, although we’re doing this program primarily for the benefit of the gel’s summah club swim team, we thought that it would be a good idea to get in a little competitive practice.  To this end, we signed her up for a couple of meets over the winter months, the first of them being this past Saturday.  Since it was the gel’s very first meet of this sort, we thought it fitting that the entire port-swiller family come out to support her.

What idiots we were.

First, there’s the shear, gob-smacking time-management fiasco.  The gel was signed up for two events, 100m breast stroke and 100m freestyle.  Each event lasts, what, a couple minutes?  We spent something like five hours at the pool in toto, watching wave after wave of unknown and uninteresting yoot splashing back and forth, all for those two brief glimpses of our own, stuck somewhere toward the back end of the heats.  It may be a matter of taste, but IMHO, swimming, as a spectator sport, wears mighty thin mighty soon.

Mrs. R and the eldest gel both displayed surprising tactical savvy, volunteering to act as timers for the races.  Armed with stopwatches and standing poolside, at least they had something to do.

As for Self, I was stuck up in the bleachers, my nose and eyes full of chlorine fumes, my head pounding from the raucous echos of scream, shout and whistle, my patience being seriously eroded by the middle gel’s constant complaints of how bored she was.  I had brought a book and periodically tried to read it, but I couldn’t even manage that because of a group of cougarish matrons sitting next to me, hanging out of their tight designer jeans and gossiping maliciously.  At one point I thought it might be more advantageous to simply bang myself in the forehead with the book instead of trying to read it, but I didn’t really care to draw attention.

Well, at any rate, as with all things, the gel’s events finally came and went.  She did okay for a first go in the breast stroke, placing something like 17th out of 35.  As for the freestyle, she came third in her heat.  We didn’t wait around to see where she placed overall, because by then we were all so stir-crazy that practically as soon as she stepped out of the water, we grabbed her and her gear and made a bolt for it.

So that was our first wintah meet, that was.   Not that we have many more planned, but it was unanimously agreed that family honor has been satisfied and from now on only one parent need go with her.  Next time, I’m bringing one of those bench chairs with a back, earplugs and a discretely camoflaged flask of liquid courage.

Loitering around RFEC this morning with the eldest gel after dropping off her sistahs for choir rehearsal:

“Dad, I think it’s high time you stopped living in the past and entered the 21st Century.”


“Yeah, I think you’ve just got to stop ignoring what’s going on around you and start getting into it, instead.  In other words, start being cool.”

“Uh, what specifically did you have in mind?”

“Well, for starters, get a buzz-cut like Uncle John.  Then, quit listening to classical music.  Get into pop and start crankin’ it up in your car.  Also, start wearing t-shirts and jeans in public.”

“Oh.  In other words, start being a barbarian.”


“Thanks, no.  Not interested in being a barbarian.  As a matter of fact, I’m perfectly happy with what I am.”

“Which is a nerd.”

“Yes, well you see, were I a barbarian as you wish, I’d smack you here and now for being a smart-ass.  As it is, I will simply say, ‘Quiet, you.'”


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November 2011