Deep End of the Pool


Bundle of nerves,  I am just a big old wad of wound up. I just received the Kindle file to review for Off the Leash this morning and I’m excited on the one hand because every day we’re getting a little closer to actually publishing the book, but I’m as nervous as a cat because then it’s out there, you know…like out there.

Exercise is good. That’s what they tell you, right? (Liquor works well too, but is problematic at nine o’clock in the morning.) So I’ve been exercising EVERY DAY. The quick stops and pivots associated with wrangling two sizable beasts named Lib and Lou on the mean streets of Webster Groves has aggravated an old football injury to my knee, so I have shortened the length of our dog walks and extended the number of laps I am now swimming as an alternative lane to the golden shore called endorphins. Not as effective, at least so far. Nothing beats a good sweat on concrete or a rubber track.

Louie and Libby Waiting for a Walk

They don’t care about no stinkin’ book. They just want to know why their walk has been cut in half.

That being said, I did receive a remindful vignette of therapy at the pool yesterday.  A cute little buster of a boy and his dad came to the pool and stashed their totes and towels nearby. The little boy, blond, about three-and-a-half-feet-tall in navy and white Hawaiian print trunks, popped off his shirt and his dad, not a catalogue kind of guy, rather a dude with a close-cropped beard, a ball cap, with tats and a library book, (but who’s looking, right?)  lovingly slathered the kid up with sunscreen. It was sweet, how the father’s hands adeptly covered the little guy’s shoulders and back and topped off his ears. Little man took off, Dad got his book and his cell phone inside a zip lock bag, (this man is apparently smart) and went to sit by the side of the pool.

I quit staring and went back to my Jonathan Franzen novel, which I started before Christmas and am now on page 36, (you see how easily I am distracted) and in one hot minute, the lifeguards’ whistles blow — two short blows, echoed by every guard blowing two short blows from every other stand at the pool. I look up.

Other lifeguards are walking briskly toward the deep end, where little man in the Hawaiian trunks, thank God, is standing by the lifeguard at the diving well. His dad has already gotten there. Apparently, he looked like he was in trouble, so they made him get out, summoned the head lifeguard to test his ability in the twelve feet deep water.

One lifeguard got in on the far side, the head lifeguard stood on the deck next to dad where little man jumped back in. Off he went. His golden head bobbed up every few stokes, his kicks barely making a splash, as he slowly made his way across the now empty deep end. He got to the other side, beaming as he put his hands on the side of the pool, pulling himself up.

“Now you gotta come back!” hollered the head lifeguard from the other side.

Little man dove back under the water, bobbed up like a bouy and kicked and paddled his way back across, where all sixty-five pounds of him climbed up the ladder to affirmations of “good job” all around. Dad patted him on the head, the diving well lifeguard climbed back up on her stand, the head lifeguard went to check the chlorine levels and the pretzel machine and little man hopped back up on the diving board, so slight as to make barely a bounce, and jumped in,  followed by Daddio diving off the board next to him.

Being that, to this point, I had not gotten enough exercise to exorcise my tension, which manifests itself in spontaneous tears, I got choked up upon observing this rite of passage. It struck me that this darling little sun-drenched boy and I are much the same. He had to prove he could swim across the deep end before he could enjoy the thrill of being in over his head.  But all around were people standing by to help if he got into trouble, cheering him on, telling him,“you can do it!” with a loving pat on the head and an “atta boy!” when he made it to the other side.

Deep End of the Pool

We’re all just trying to get across the deep end of the pool.

About Jean Ellen Whatley

Writer. Dreamer. Sometimes schemer. Journalist/memoirist/observer and sometimes constructive irritant. Prisoner of demon muses. Mother to four humans and two dogs. In my spare time, I delete phone numbers of former boyfriends.

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  1. Marilyn Roberts says:

    ………and you’ll make it!!! – I’m betting on it! Love, Myrtie

  2. Great post. I have the same flooring in my kitchen only different colors. Circa 1972,

  3. Kit Hudson says:

    Getting across the deep end with out going off the deep end… worth a try my dear. Definitely worth a try!

    • Man, gotta love my California contingent — first three comments on the leader board and it’s Myrt in Long Beach, Madge in West Hollywood and Kit, well Kit from West Hollywood too, probably. You CRACK me up, Kit, but baby, I already went off the deep end LONG ago.

  4. Gerry Mandel says:

    Another lesson in life, from a writer who has pushed the edges of the envelope. (bad metaphor for a swimming pool story). Okay, …for a writer who has tested the waters. Better? It’s so cool how you find meaning in daily events that most of us look through or past.

  5. Awesome post. Just as I was tearing up a bit you lay it on the line about tension manifesting itself in spontaneous tears. I don’t know who’s more of a mess here. Now shut up and JUMP.

  6. Margie Davis says:

    What a great post!!! Miss Jean, you are amazing and I can’t wait to get my hands on your book! Love the pic of Lib and Lou, too ;-) It is time for the rest of the world to discover you!! You are all that and a bag of chips!!