Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Today I am grateful for competition. And I am the least competitive person I know. Which makes my competing in the Montgomery County Senior Olympics so laughable.
Winning is fun, sure, but for me it’s not the best part about any game or sport.
At a baseball or hockey game I can have as much fun watching the people in the stands as I can who hit a homerun or scored by sliding through the goal net. I simple don’t care very much about all of that. It’s one reason I don’t wear a Fit-Bit. I don’t care how many steps I’m doing and I don’t need the shame of it telling me I’m not doing enough. I know when I’m doing enough because I get tired. I know when I’m not because I have energy. Wearing an annoying piece-o-plastic on my arm is no guarantee I’ll live longer.
My grandma farmed until a few years before she died at 93 and ate butter and cheese like it was as good for her as tofu and avocado. She sat on the porch snipping beans she picked from her own garden and walked back to the woods only if there was a reason, like a lost cow.
My mom is still pretty well at 90, but for the entire time I lived with her I thought the stairs to the basement would be her demise. Every time she went down there she said, “These steps will be the death of me, yet. ” It never occurred to her that smoking might contribute. Fit-Bit that into the equation!
I don’t even get off on being in competition with myself. Maybe that means I’m lazy. Maybe it means I’m smart. Maybe it means I don’t give a crap one way or the other. Maybe it means I’m centered and well-balanced emotionally. Yup! That’s the one.
So why did I compete in the Senior Olympics? I wanted to. A friend said I’d get medals. I had never done anything like this before and wondered if it would be fun. It was. It was really a blast with the best, most encouraging people you could imagine.
But let’s get some facts straight. I am fluffy. And I float like a buoy. Always have, even when I was thinner and young. They should have had me along on the Titanic. Think how many lives could have been saved. I do not make these observations to be self-deprecating, but there are some facts about me that I’ve learned to not only accept, but embrace. I am who I am. It is what it is. It’s all good.
My upper arms are like just like Popeye’s. . .after gravity took over and the muscles sunk underneath looking more like cotton candy. I am way bottom heavy, with legs that crinkle on themselves like bad French, blouson draperies. Charming. I have two replaced knees and asthma, both gifts of aging. I’ve had enough abdominal surgery to “never be able to wear a bikini again,” as my surgeon mentioned. Stop laughing. Never mind. Go ahead.
So all of this said, I should have gotten a medal just by showing up at a strange pool in a swim suit. But they expected me to compete. Oh boy. A very thin, very fit woman in the locker room said to me, “We are probably in the same age group for the competition.” I was thinking “swell”. She was probably thinking, “Yippee! All GOLD for me!” I lowered the bar. But she was also 100% supportive of every effort I made. What a dear, kind, sweet person.
Then it came time for my first event, the 100 meter medley. I thought I was going to be singing show tunes while floating calmly on my back looking at the pretty ceiling lights. But when I look confused, my new friend says, “You do freestyle down, breast back, back stroke, then freestyle.” What? How in the Hell am I supposed to remember all of that? Are we grading on a curve? Geeze.
She and the others are perched on the side of the pool ready to dive in. I raise my hand, “Um, I don’t dive. I was told I could start in the water.” So they said, yes I could and to jump in. Ha-ha. As much as I encourage my little swimmers to jump, I’m not a big fan. But tempus fugit and I jumped, goggles around my neck and sank farther than I ever have before. I was exhausted just kicking to the surface. I never got the goggles on correctly and they filled up like water balloons. Have I mentioned I don’t like my eyes open in the water either? It’s a wonder I like swimming with all of my qualifiers. Back and forth, I sang, “God Save The Queen” in my head all the way. FYI-I am the Queen. I lived. 100 meters is four lengths, by the way.
I can easily swim four lengths whenever I feel like it. I actually can do as many as 50 by the end of some summers. But that’s padding along marveling at the sun twinkling around in the bottom of the pool and noticing a cute swimming suit, or the pretty clouds if I’m on my back. Not in competition. Full-out! Thought I’d die after four lengths. I was gasping for breath looking around for the oxygen masks that would drop out of the ceiling. “Put your own mask on first. . .”
Because I can swim a lot of laps, I figured I’d sign up for everything. Ha-ha. That’s a rookie mistake. I got a little smarter each time, but mostly in how I got in the water. No more jumping from standing. I plopped down on the edge with the grace of a cow pie and slid in from there. Goggles on. Ready to go. I didn’t sink as deeply.
Even that wasn’t fun, so I developed a sit-on-the-side-of-the-step twisting motion that slid me in like a manatee hunting for herring. It worked for me. By the time I was half way through my heats I made the smart decision to bag the 400. It was last and I told all of my wonderful, supportive new friends that I did not want to have them miss their breakfast. . .the next day.
Yes, I got the medals for competing. One for each event I did except the 200, which I finished so long after everyone else that all eyes were on my bobbing bottom and a cheer rang out when I touched the edge. “She lived!” Wasn’t said, but kindly implied. Or maybe that was just by me. It turns out I’m fastest on my back. I’ll wait while you finish your one-liners about that knowledge. . .all done? Himself isn’t.
Am I proud? You bet your sweet ass I am!! No lifeguard had to jump in to save me. I was able to function today at the pool and my other exercise class. And I’m calling my bronze the “there is a picture of me in a swimsuit” medal.
Mustering up my courage to even compete was worth all the stupid Fit-Bits in the world. And if my grandma were still alive I’d tell her that all-in-all, I swam back to the woods. . .and there wasn’t even a cow to fetch.