Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Slide of Humiliation

Well, I'm glad you've all enjoyed installment #1 in my Most Embarrassing Trilogy. I'm keeping my slam-dunk most embarrassing moment for the last in the series, but today's is pretty scarring as well.

Did you know I've never gone down a water slide? Never. But there was this one time I tried...

It was 1985. I was 12 years old, with budding breasts and a hot pink Catalina swimsuit. Long brown hair, parted in the middle, cascaded down my back, and I strutted around like I was somebody at our community private pool, Woodbine Swim Club. I was in this stage of trying on the still-too-big shoes of womanhood and noticing the attention that came my way. It was then that I learned to suck in my stomach...people....guys...were watching.

Anyway, I wasn't much of a natural swimmer. I didn't even learn to swim until the 5th grade when our class had a week of private swim lessons as a field trip. I was very self-conscious, but I learned to fake it pretty well. But truly comfortable in the water I was not. So, prancing around Woodbine with my friends Marnie and Lisa was more about prancing around, and not so much about actually swimming.

One day, Lisa said, "Hey, let's go down the water slide!" I tried to get out of it with things like, "Nah, I don't want to get my hair wet." and "You go, and I'll take your picture." But she was persistent. It looked like the other kids going down were having fun, and they all came up alive, but it just seemed so fast and out-of-control. Two things I am not.

Finally, I gave in and we started walking towards the slide. I hadn't even been confident enough to take the actual swim test to allow entrance to the "big pool". I was wearing one of Lisa's green swim bands around my ankle. I was a fraud, about to be exposed. My nerves turned into chatter.

"Boy, it sure looks high."

"Nah, it isn't."

"Sure looks steep."

"Not that steep."

"Sure seems dangerous."

"It's just a small slide."

"I've never done this before. Ever."

"What? You'll be fine. C'mon, it's fun!"

She went first. No problem, down she went. I wanted to bolt and vomit. But up the ladder I climbed.

And then down the ladder.

And then up the ladder.

And then down the ladder.

A line of children was forming behind me. So, up the ladder I went, and as I looked down at the slide from that vantage point, I could see how slippery it looked. And seriously? It was straight down. I would die. And then I heard through a megaphone across the pool:

"Hey, YOU, on the slide! You're holding everything up. Go down the slide already!"

The evil lifeguard. Laughing. Everyone in the pool was now staring at me. Waiting. Suddenly I could feel my face glowing more brightly than my hot pink Catalina tank suit. I swung my legs over the top and sat down. I looked down, and it looked so far. I tried and tried to will myself to just do it. It would all be over soon. But I froze. I just couldn't do it, even with the kids complaining behind me, "Let's GO! C'mon! Hurry up!"

I panicked. I started to cry. There goes womanhood, right out the window. I looked at the lifeguard with my teary eyes and yelled across the pool, "I can't!" He huffed and puffed as he climbed down from his post and tromped over to the slide. He cleared the line, he climbed up, he helped me back down the ladder, and I booked it double time to the bathroom.

I tried to compose myself. Pull it together. A little 6 year old approached me and said, "Why wouldn't you just go down the slide?" Humiliating. I would need bigger breasts and a cuter swimsuit before I could ever show my face there again. It would have to be a big enough transformation that nobody would ever remember or recognize me. It took a few seasons.

But to this day, I have never gotten over the trauma of the water slide. I've always gracefully avoided it. But two summers ago, I was bobbing my pregnant belly in a friend's pool with the kids, just weeks before I delivered Conor, and I broke free and told my kids that story. My kids who have no fears, thank goodness. Who brag about the three-story water slide they just went down in Phoenix. Who are looking at the little dinky one across the pool and thinking, "Our Mom? The Mom who doesn't let us shy away from anything? Who never lets us give into our fears about anything at all???"

Now they knew where that mother-love comes from. I never want them to be as crippled as I have been. And they said, "Well, do it now!" And they all start chanting, "Mo-om! Mo-om! Mo-om!"

Yeah right. Like the first time I go down a water slide is gonna be when I can barely walk without waddling. Can you imagine that? Huge pregnant woman barrelling out of control on her virgin voyage down a water slide? Nice try, kids. I loves ya.

But gentle readers, this might be the year.


Anonymous said...

awh jenna.

mo-om! mo-om! mo-om! i'll cheer you on, too, girl! it is really fun and once you do it once or twice, you will see it wasn't so freaky to be scared of.

you ARE stronger than you think jenna. you impress me very often! thinking about towering above the masses ... and your morgue tour. i love that kind of stuff, too, but very few people can stomach what you are capable of. you are jenna, hear you roar! :)

remember ... i am your cheerleader.
kathleen xoxo

Anonymous said...

You should have kicked that evil lifeguard right in the ahem's.. LOL

Hannah said...

I've never done it either Jenna. But I really never thought about it. Just not something that really interests me.

We can be water slide virgins together.

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

I'll cheer you on too! It really is a very fast experience...I found it happened so quickly I didn't have time to be scared.

Except the standing at the top freaking out bit.

I loved it once I finally did it though and now waterslides are one of my favouritest things! Hear that? Fears can become favourites!

Madam Crunchypants said...

I always get nervous at the top of the waterslide - I'm deadly scared of heights.

But once you go! It's awesome.

When Punkin was having her first swimming lessons (age 4 months) the stupid swimming teacher thought it would be great fun to make us new mommies take our babies down the waterslide.

That? I wouldn't recommend.

But otherwise, go go go!!!

Abby said...

I've also never been down one. The thought of them seems pretty fun..but just scares me! Maybe someday when the babies are older and WANT to go to swimming parks..maybe their old mom will get up there..and then back down..and then get up there..and then back down before finally giving in and just doing it.

I really hope my favorite embarrassing moment of yours that you've told me before is #3. I won't give it away just in case it is.

Anonymous said...

Haha! That's awesome!
I too was crippled by many fears as ayoung one and my mom always made me face them. I hated it then but I appreciate it now and am doing the same for my kids.
Water slides though, they scare me too. Not so much the slide itself, it's the deep pool of water you plunge underneath at the end. I'm not much a of a swimmer over here either.

Lesley said...

Good for you for posting your most humiliating moments for all the world to see. Now that's bravery!

Jenna said...

Hannah and Abby! I'm shocked! Well, you know what this means, right? It means that Abby, you need to get a layover of a few days in CA on your way to Hawaii, and Hannah needs to drive her fam out (and Amanda should come too!) and we need to all do this together! C'mon, what do you think? probably have to change flights in L.A. anyway!

Josi said...

Or you could get pregnant again, real fast and save yourself one more year :-) Gosh I hated 12.

Angela said...

I am totally laughing out loud; I love how descriptive you were about that experience. I LOVE water slides but do have an embarrassing moment as well. It involves me being over 30 and trying to show off for the Young Women in my previous ward. I hyper-extended my back and well... felt like a nerd!

You can do it though.. start small and work your way up! You are one tough cookie!

Unknown said...

Put me down for "Never been down a waterslide" too. I guess I'm like Abby and I just never thought about it. Not a big deal though.

Annette Lyon said...

I love that you let your kids see that side of you--and WHY you push them. Great (and awfully funny) story, though.

YogaNana said...

Guess who *has* been down a water slide?

But we had a pool when I was a teenager and even though I'm a graceless mess, style-wise, as a swimmer, I'm very comfortable in the water.

So if all you girls want to get together and slide, let Mom know so I can come take pictures. :o)

Diving boards, though -- I don't like diving boards.

Laurie said...

Jenna, you are the best story teller ever! I love to read everything you write. I seriously think it's great that you can laugh at your self like this. I know that I have had embarrassing moments but I bury them so deep and never face them again. Here you are sharing them with everyone. You are one of the strongest women I know!

Here's my 2 cents on water slides: Water slides are fun. I am scared of deep water (I'm not a great swimmer) so I avoid slides with those. They have some with small pools at the bottom. The one I went down had tons of men hanging around and I thought that was odd. Then I went down and realized why the men were hanging around. When you hit the water you were going so fast that your swim suit was no longer in the right places if it was still on your body at all. Wouldn't recommend that kind. My favorite, which are just as fun, take your kids and go down one with mats or tubes. Then you can all go together and have lots more fun! Good luck!

Momo Fali said...

I missed this post. This isn't so much embarrassing as it is horribly scarring! You poor thing.