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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Day I Damn-Near Drownded

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.


Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

That is a great story. A true dad story. Save you one minute and make light of it the next.

darsden said...

Oh My word..how many times have you re-inacted that while you were sleeping. Thank goodness those beer floating parents kept an eye on lil ole Pearl!
I went tubing like that before and the trees and logs under there are very scary and pointy...don't know why more tubes don't pop. I know my big but was popped up on one of those trees just under the water.. I couldn't move.. I took up residency there..A friend had to "ram" me off of it..otherwise I would still be there...but with a smaller butt (I would hope by now)

Anonymous said...

Oh my, what a scary experience... and yet you still had to swim after that darn inner tube!

Peeling legs suck!

Joanie M said...

or hug you one minute and spank you the next.

glad your dad was there to save you.

underOvr (aka The U) said...


It is always good to have someone who's got your back. That day (one to remember), it was your Dad.

Because of him, you're sharing this with us today. You should call him and give him some patter and a big I love you Dad. He'd love that.


Jocelyn said...

I am officially having a really good day right now because your dad hollered "Jesus Martha, Pearl," and that's perhaps the best line in the English language ever.

MahoneyMusings said...

I'm a bit torn that I'm laughing so very hard at your near death experience.

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

That is so Dad-like to stop you from howling about your near-drowning by distracting you about your tube!! But we kids don't realize that! I bet he nearly had a heart attack then!

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Maybe you shouldn't have been cutting down Fangorn forest, thus infuriating the Ents.

Eskimo Bob said...

As horrific of an event it was for you getting a Swirlie from Mother Nature (after all you were being initiated in the burgeoning world of young adult). I'm sure it was hysterical for your friends to see your legs flailing above the water:

"Look at Pearl! She must be going after some Walleye!"

"Hey Pearl - get one for me!!"

"I see London! I See France!!. .."

Jodie Kash said...

Hugs for the shout-out, Pearl. Now I gotta get my ass over there and write something really clever or really salacious...

My Dad used to grab us unexpectedly and throw us in the apartment pool. For fun.

Ah, memories.

Shawn said...

Hey----visiting from SITS...

Great blog---nice story---water and Dads---always good stories ensue.

Ann's Rants said...

Jesus, Pearl. FYI I nominated you for the Blogitzer over at Bloggers Choice Awards, because you write like this (beautifully) ev-er-y day.

Vic said...

Jesus Martha, Pearl! that was an excellent story.

My dad would have pulled me up and then said, "Whadya do THAT for?"

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

Yikes! I'm certainly glad you didn't drown. That's a tough one. I think I'd hug the life out of my kid, and oddly enough last year he did flip upside in an inner tube on the lake and got stuck under water. I don't think I've ever moved so fast in my entire life.

The Retired One said...

I hear ya.
My dad would've said:
Quit fooling around, we need to get these innertubes back so we can get more beer before the store closes!"
Hey...priorities, you know?

We used to tube with our kids in Wisoonsin...isn't it the best? Except my ass kept hitting rocks.
Ok, I guess that is more than you need to know about my anatomy.

The Retirement Chronicles

De Campo said...

How many years on the therapist couch did this take to recover from? If this was summer family fun I can only imagine what the Pearl Clan did during the winter months.

“Pearl! Get in here and help lance the boils on your mothers back!”

IB said...

Awesome story. I was hoping you'd be saved.

You gotta love that dad of yours.

Michelle said...

Pearly-Q I am so relived you didn't drownded!! Because then I would miss you!!!

Crazy Mo said...

That was frickin' hilarious! "Jesus Martha, Pearl!" Honestly, where do dads come up with this stuff? My mother will tell you that I piped up in school that Jesus' last name was Murphy cuz all I ever heard as a kid was "Jesus Murphy, Mo what the ..."

Amber Star said...

That is soooo like a dad to save you with one hand and with the next breath realize the inner tube was getting away and it would cost another $15 if it wasn't returned in time.

We've tubed the Comal in Central Texas when it was really high, but it was so slow that day we nearly burned up. They had closed the Guadalupe because it was too dangerous and it was backing up into the Comal was why it was so slow.

My husband got caught in an eddy coming off a slide from a slide and he had the beer carrier in his lap. I was laughing so hard I couldn't help him and he is still sort of freaked out about the whole ordeal.

Great story and father's day will be coming up soon.

lizspin said...

What a hoot! That's all I can say, so I'll say it again. . . What a hoot!!!

fingers said...

'...pleasantly inebriated adults giving you money for treats later...appendages that only saw the sun on this one day out of the year...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...'

I'm speechless...

Pearl said...

Pseudonymous, ain’t that the truth?! Saving you one minute and joking the next!

Darsden, those rivers are dangerous!! And yes, I’m a good swimmer but you won’t catch me in the river!

Ladyfi, would you believe, between me and my sister, that we’d sit on the floor next to Dad in his Lay-Z-Boy and see who could peel off the biggest sheet of skin?! Wait – does that make us weird?

Joanie, my Dad believes there is nothing so serious that it can’t be laughed at, no matter how dark... :-D

U, do you know that I did?! That I did call him?! He’s very proud of me and wants to know when I’ll be on TV. :-D

Jocelyn, high praise from you. I’ve really been enjoying your blog. You’re a silly/serious woman in the tradition of the Five State Area. Am I biased if I think that Minnesota and Wisconsin are some of the most naturally funny states in the Union? I think it’s the long winters…

MahoneyMusings, don’t feel bad. I think sometimes the truly scary, truly life-changing events are the ones that have the richest humor vein running through them.

Rosni, you got that exactly right. Dad was all about re-direction. Nice catch!

OMG, iNDefatigable, do you know I cut three paragraphs on the Ents?! Was afraid it was too “nerd”. Haha!

Eskimo Bob, oh, Tammy was such a bitch, and I rarely use that word. Ack! I’ve aligned myself more than once in my life with people who are casually cruel. What do you suppose that’s about?

Jodie, you’re welcome. I wonder – where did you grow up? Your dad?

Shawn, thanks for stopping by! I love new people!

Oh, Ann, thank you. That’s so sweet, and I love it. You know, I’m a big talker, but I’m no good at self-promotion; so it’s so nice of you to do it for me. I’ll be stopping by…

Vic, I’m surprised he didn’t say that. I broke my wrist horseback riding and that was his question: “What’d you do THAT for?”

Blogging Mama, I think my father was afraid (not so much as he’s gotten older) to show too much, somehow. We had quite a bit of tragedy when I was younger than this story, and he pulled away a bit, as we all did, rather than draw closer.
Some people respond to sorrow by making everything a joke. I think that’s what we did.

Retired One, Wisconsin? The Apple River? Was practically a wholesome activity in the 70s and 80s and now it’s a bit more “Girls Gone Wild”. Pathetic, in some ways.

De Campo, I can see where’d you get that. But boils on my mother? At dawn, sir! At dawn!

IB, for a moment there, you thought I wasn’t going to make it, didn’t you?!

Michelle, drownding would be a terrible way to go, wouldn’t it?!

Crazy Mo, I love that sort of thing, too! The things that are common sayings in one family are unheard of in another. There are a couple of lines in my family that are classics: “Rectum? Damn near killed him!” and “Might as well, can’t dance”. Really, I have no idea what they mean…

Amber Star, it’s true! “Glad you’re still alive, Number One Daughter, but there goes fifteen bucks!”
And I got a big smile, thinking of your husband caught in an eddy. At least he had the beer with him!

Lizspin, oh, yes. Days out with my family are always a hoot.

Fingers, I’m frightened when you’re speechless…

MuseSwings said...

I love your story and the words you used to tell it! I'm also very glad you didn't drown. Or heaven forbid, get a puncture in that $15 tube.

♥ Braja said...

Beer tube? WOOT :))))

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Awesome, Pearl. I'm glad I could bring a little bit of Nerd Shui to your floating down the river story!

Venom said...

Oh yeah, of course since you DIDN'T drown he's worried about the deposit$ - typical parent, covering his concern with practicalism.

Funny stuff Pearl, I loved this post.

Jodie Kash said...

My Dad, in a piss poor, dead mining town called Pittston, PA.

Me, the old girl and an Army Brat on a base outside Omaha, NE.

Explains some things, don't it? ;)