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.