I’ve noticed my blogs come in waves.
Sometimes it’s work and the joys found therein.
Sometimes it’s the pleasures of mass transit.
Sometimes it’s the deviants I’ve taken into my home (cats) or the deviants I work with…
But lately, it’s my Dad.
Jodie at Out of Me Head made me think of all the “Dad” stories I have, of how what may have been inappropriate in the 70s (or frankly, in any era!) makes for stories later...
Late-summer, I’m 14, and my family and various friends and relatives have packed coolers full of ice, beer, pop, and varied sandwiches, rented inner-tubes and are stepping into the Rum River to float from one location to another.
That’s right. We’re floating down the Rum River.
Why? No one knows, really. The adults lash the beer cooler to their inner tubes, the children scatter about as the current takes them, and, barring complications, you have a whole day in the sun, butts bitten by bugs and large curious fish, pleasantly inebriated adults giving you money for treats later.
I have to assume, looking back, that sunscreen had yet to be invented, because what came two days after the Rum River Float was always the Peeling of Dad’s Legs, appendages that only saw the sun on this one day out of the year…
The Rum is a rather shallow, slow-moving river; but the night before there had been a heavy rain. The river was undoubtedly higher – and faster – than usual.
Not that this would stop us.
The adults lashed their tubes together, the “beer tube” in the center, the kids divided into various contingencies, and we set off.
Did I mention that the river was a little high?
We managed to keep the tubes in the center of the river for most of the day, but eventually one loses track of such things, and I found myself drifting towards the bank – and perhaps for the first time truly noticed how many trees were actually in the water, how many of them had fallen over, their limbs reaching into the water.
I found myself pushed into a toppled tree.
The water swirled, irritated with my blunder, and I was flipped over, caught under the branches.
Somehow, the inner tube was now around my waist. Upside down, I found I couldn’t get out of it. The tree branches held me under, scratched at my face and my arms as I fought. I was stuck in the branches, and it occurred to me, as my lungs started to burn and things began to go black, that I was going to die in the river…
I was pulled up and out by my hair. It was my father. The inner tube popped to the surface, I popped to the surface, and I took a hysterical and searing lung-full of air.
My eyes opened to my friend Tammy bobbing violently, one hand on her tube, the other gripping the end of my Dad’s t-shirt.
“You damn-near drownded!”
There would be time later for reflection.
“Jesus Martha, Pearl!” Dad shouted, “Get swimming! We don’t return that inner tube and they’ll charge us $15!”
The other kids got a big kick out of it, of course, as I launched myself down the swollen river in pursuit of the inner tube that had just conspired to kill me, and I secretly vowed, in the way that only a teenage girl can, that I would have nothing to do with the upcoming Peeling of Dad’s Legs.
He was mean.
And that was The Day Pearl Damn-Near Drownded.
19 minutes ago