Well, after burning my rear on the steps leading to the patio snack bar, all due to aÊ very good friend I had little to say to Sebastian, the lifeguard. I have always believed he knew little English and that was.."You, out, thirty minutes!" I do know that I was visibly impressed that steam was coming from my backside as the baggy suit dried out. Ever notice how the alleged "tie" strings stretched when they got wet.. Well, thus an adventure.
I was back as a returning stud, err, student. Working for Polly Robinson in Student Recreation and teaching swimming in the late afternoons. By the way, several people's remarks about Capt. Ed are fairly accurate. My learning experience with Captain Ed, years before was on the RT beach and the waves were tusumani height and he grabs a chubby arm, flings me airborne and I splash down like Apollo and promptly head for the bottom going "Auuuuuga, Auuuuga, as the submarine I had become. The waves slapped my tail on the sand and I had my first experience of wave "bashing" a favorite sport of retarded older students I thought at the time. You lay there and "body surf" to the shore, waves smacking the fire out of you and talk about pounding sand up your a--. Well I learned very quickly that when Capt. Ed said, "One over the other and kick" that was the extent of class. I was to reach the ability to not only crawl toward shore, from the depth of about ten feet, but to hold my breath extraordinarily long. I did finally get the hang of it after he had shot putted me out to sea repeatedly.
However, I digress. So here I am in my outasite all black swim trunks with the damndest mesh netting inside. Let me tell you about wrapping up things in fish nets, and that was all inside my suit. Later found out that what Jock Straps were for, but not until Charlie Armstrong caused me much anguish. My God, was there ever a more deserving person for an Olympic Medal than Charlie. In his red speedo suit, which I always thought a Band-Aid covered more, however the rows of girls lined up to watch him and his unbelievable dives indicated that one of two things was happening. He was one hell of a diver, or they were all praying mighty hard on that suit coming off. I personally think he had it glued on.
Now how hard can it be to dive. So off I go to show my skill. I get on the board start bouncing. Hey, I like this, and suddenly I am way up there and on the way down. The board returning from its depressed position and my butt made a tremendous impact, which flung me straight up and out. The problem was that the stupid tie string was loose, the impact dam near tore off my suit and as I shot upwards, the resounding smack of my butt and the all metal board was heard in Udaliyiha, if not the wonderful scream from me. However, worse was yet to come, of course. I flew out and started to tumble, not a one and a half, more like a cannon shot that failed. I grabbed my suit with both hands, now at the ankle level and completely somersaulting over with legs askew and pure horror and embarrassment managed a 9.0 belly flop, sans suit right in front of Wendy Cyr who was sitting on the edge sunbathing. Well, to say the least my language was spectacular and Sebastian made me "Time out" on the steps.
I had a swimming class of some 40 cub scouts that I was teaching that afternoon, so after a lot of face saving hiding in the shower room, I skulk back out to the pool and there I had a couple of little ones side kicking when Chip's Mom came along. Now I do believe her exact words were, "Here, drown this" but perhaps it was to teach him to swim. I want to say something here that many of you may not have ever known. "Chip Nobles" is one of the finest Brathood ever turned out. His family came to Arabia as Aramco's first Black family and a lot of people treated them poorly. For this I apologize, but until I met Chip and his Mom, I had never seen a Black person, along with snow so maybe it wasn't so unusual. However Chip and his family were wonderful to me. I called him "Chocolate Chip", and I say that with a very deep warmth in my heart. At the time such a comment was never a slur. He was my special guy in swimming because his mother had told me that she knew I could teach him. He also today, stands head and shoulders above a lot of other friends of all sizes, shapes, and colors I know. Anyhow, the little turd learned to swim. Like a fish I might add. I used to walk him home and his Mom always had cookies and such.
Back to the day of diaster, unusual for me I know. That night Aramco had a major value break and the pool drained almost completely. However Peter Pestoni, Me, Tom Painter, Debbie Dirr and a few others decided to go pool hopping and skinny dipping. Well we snuck over the fence by the canteen and Peter dashes to the board, buck naked, does a magnificant one and a half and we hear an almighty smack and scream from hell. He had hit in less than four feet of water. I thought he had been killed. We called the emergency number and he ended up with a few broken bones, but I still remember that magnificent dive in the dark and the unearthly quiet after he hit. Then the scream. I ran all the way home naked as a jaybird so scared. Forgot clothes and all. Remember Mom's sewing names in everything? Well, Naji, Recreation Supervisor was able to read quite well. Two weeks, no recreation.
But...and as you might guess, there had to be. Here comes the Tri-D swim meet. I am swimming against Kevin Colgan and a couple of others. I thought, no big deal, Kevin is a matchstick and I'll power swim away. It was a three lap race and we all had the racing dive down pat. Many a red chest on that one. So "Bang" goes the pistol, I slip and fall in, Kevin does a perfect racing dive, went too deep and scrapped his chin on the bottom and we both stand up, see each other and take off like banshees to the other end. What a sight that must have been. I know we passed RT and Abqaiq was still waiting on the edge for the signal to go, being deaf and all. The water was churning like a feeding frenzy of sharks and we blasted our way to the deep end, somersaulted around, kicked off and shot to the other end. Our wrists must have hit the pool edge within microseconds of each other. The water looked as if two destroyers had plowed to shore and I won't say who won, but that race went down in swim meet lore. The record set that day has yet to ever be broken and is or was still recorded at recreation. What a glorious day. The sun was out, the crowd cheered, the mighty had swum and all due to a small man, named Captain Ed. May he forever be teaching little Angels to swim.
One last thought. Captain Ed was a real hero. Not many people know that a tanker caught fire and he made repeated trips out there in little more than a canoe and brought back in badly burnt crew members and a few years later was hauling TNT to shore and the load exploded blowing the back end of his boat off, yet he still got his crew to shore. That boat was the one that laid on the shore on the left side (ocean) on the way to Sandy Hook in RT for many , many years. I personally played inside it and I still feel the magic of this man.
After seeing "Jaws" I now check under the bubblebath in the tub before getting in, but there was a day.......
Enough pooling around, back to serious work.