I should have been wearing my red one-piece tank today. I
was so proud of that suit in college. I ran my hand across the flaky white
letters, “lifeguard” with pride. I strapped my life-saving fanny pack to my
slender hips each morning and felt powerful, needed. I felt a sense of purpose.
The suit gave me confidence. I might as well have been wearing a cape and mask.
It didn’t hurt that “Baywatch” was enormously popular at that time and my
inflated ego sat on my shoulder and encouraged me to run as often as possible.
I would, doing my best to imitate Pamela Anderson or Nicole Eggert, running
slowly so as to ensure that just the right amount of bouncing occurred. I had
it down to a science in my head. I’m pretty sure, though, that I looked more
like CJ’s ungainly sister than CJ herself.
It has been ten years since I retired my red lifeguard suit
to pursue my “real life.” I don’t even know where it is anymore. I was pleased
to discover this week that my skills, unlike my suit, are still close to the
surface. I have rescued my daughter from the perilous water three times in the
past three days. The first time she jumped in the water from the stairs wearing
her little pink inner tube. Instead of going feet first into the water, her head
and body went in and her feet and legs waved in the air. I pulled her out, watched her retch and cough a few times and she was back in the water in seconds. The second time she was
swimming around the pool in her inner tube and fell right through the hole. I
rescued her again, this time from the side of the pool. I ran to the edge,
grabbed her arm (her body is quite buoyant) and pulled her to a standing
position on the edge of the pool. The third time was the most dramatic. It
The red tank has been replaced by a matronly tankini with a
skirt bottom, a classic “Mom suit.” Generous hips have replaced the slender
body that once resided in this skin and gravity has set in with a vengeance. My
daughter was running into a gradual entry pool, doing her best to keep up with
her brother, when she found herself in waters that were too deep for her short
stature. I was in the shallowest part of the pool watching her. I immediately
leapt to my feet and sprinted across the pool to my daughter’s side. There was
no ego whispering in my ear, telling me to move a certain way to ensure maximum
beauty and sex appeal. There was only the animalistic instinct to protect my
child. CJ had nothing on me today.