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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on July 27th, 2016, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 17, Issue 21 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 17, Issue 21

Hope floats

Krider addresses his embarrassing buoyancy problem

By ROB KRIDER

There is a secret about me that most people don't know. It's a bit shameful, so I don't usually talk about it. I can't ... float. Yes, that is correct; I can't lie on my back in the water and float. I don't float, I only sink. You can tell me a thousand times to relax, to put my head back and my butt up and it doesn't matter, I sink to the bottom like a rock, a fat, 42-year-old, white rock. If I jump into a body of water and I don't immediately tread water (frantically), I sink to the bottom like dead weight.

This isn't a real problem that I have to deal with on a daily basis. I didn't join the Coast Guard to become a rescue swimmer (for good reason). My day-to-day job has me landlocked behind a desk, where no floating is required, just bureaucracy, which can be just as difficult for me. Recreationally, when I'm near water I do know how to swim, so I don't need the floating skill.

Regardless of my situation, I've been playing in the surf since I was about 12 when I learned quickly that with the right boogie board, surfboard, or paddleboard underneath me, I don't need to be able to float. Floating is the board's job.

My floating disability is something I've learned to live with; however, my wife is quite embarrassed by my "condition." She can't believe she married a man who can't float. She grew up a swimmer and water polo player, and even swam at the Division 1 college level at Cal Poly. When she wasn't swimming competitively, she spent every summer of her teenage years as a lifeguard and swimming instructor, teaching toddlers how to swim and also how to float. Her opinion is: If a 2-year-old can do it, then a 42-year-old should certainly be able to do it.

Regardless of her opinion of how I should be able to float, I've explained to her a thousand times I just can't physically pull it off. She never believed me. So she spent hours in swimming pools trying to teach me how to float, with her hand at the small of my back yelling at me, "Relax! Head back! Butt up! You're not relaxing!"

"It's hard to relax when you're drowning."

All we ever accomplished during these lessons (or torture sessions, depending on your viewpoint) was that I spent a lot of time lying on the bottom of pools looking up at her like a corpse. At the end of every failed lesson, my wife was always more disappointed in me.

She finally came to the conclusion that I must be some sort of freak with a bone density problem, which makes it so I truly physically can't float. It couldn't be that she is a bad swimming instructor; something must be physically wrong with me. Now that she has finally agreed that my body is like a rock, she is now hyper-sensitive to me being near any body of water. When we go kayaking I have to wear a life vest. During a recent cruise she asked me if I should wear my life preserver the entire trip. I thought it would look pretty strange at the formal dinner. What's embarrassing about these things is she doesn't say, "He can't float," she tells people, "He can't swim," or "He's a very weak swimmer, he needs a life vest." It's pretty humiliating.

Last weekend we were at Newport Beach hanging out on the sand with some friends enjoying some adult beverages and barbecue. My brother-in-law brought his longboard. The sun was setting and the waves looked good. Even though I didn't have swimming trunks with me I figured, "What the hell?" I pulled my phone and wallet out of my cargo shorts pockets, yanked off my shirt, grabbed the board and headed toward the water. All I wanted to do was catch one wave before the sun set.

I jumped into the surf with the board gliding underneath me and the white water spray hitting my face. It felt great. I duck-dived two waves and made my way out to the surf lineup like a pro. I sat up on the board and looked at the setting sun. It was beautiful. I was in a real moment of peace and serenity. I wasn't thinking about my job or bureaucracy. I was just feeling the swell of the ocean beneath me, tasting the saltwater on my lips. It was perfect. Then I heard commotion on the beach.

Unbeknownst to me, my wife, whom I love, decided that I shouldn't be on a surfboard in the ocean, near sunset, wearing cargo shorts, because I would probably drown. She immediately went to the lifeguard stand and informed the poor 18-year-old kid, "You have to get that guy out of the water, he can't swim, he will die, he's been drinking, and he is wearing cargo shorts. Get him out of there right away!"

The lifeguard told my wife he watched me paddle out and that I was fine. He would keep an eye on me. My wife wasn't satisfied. So she took matters into her own hands. She decided to run up and down on the crowded beach yelling as loud as she could, "Honey! You have to come in. You're making a scene!"

How was I making a scene? She was making a scene. I didn't want to come in. I was waiting for the perfect wave. Things flattened out and calmed down in the water. But nothing was calming down back on the beach with my wife. She was frantic and wouldn't stop yelling, "You have to come in! You're making a scene!"

People were staring. I was totally embarrassed. I paddled in and walked up to my wife asking her what the problem was. Was it suddenly illegal to surf? Did I break a curfew at Newport Beach? Was I in trouble with the lifeguards?

Nope. My wife just wanted me out of the water because I can't float. ?

Rob is the only guy at Disneyland who wears a life jacket on It's a Small World. You can read more from Rob Krider or contact him at robkrider.com.




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