Swimming or Ballet?

This past summer, I first hand witnessed what comedian Lewis Black must have gone through when he overheard the comment – “if it weren’t for my horse, I wouldn’t have spent that year in college.”  What?  Exactly.  If you haven’t experienced this comedic genius of a bit, I’ll provide a link at the END of the story . . . in other words, please keep reading.

Standing poolside, I was enjoying a Saturday morning swim meet of my son’s.  It was joyous.  The coffee that is, which I had picked up along the way from my favorite double D’s java house.  I love my son and I really do love seeing him swim, BUT – standing around for over three hours only to witness three 1-minute events makes you enjoy mouth burning coffee on a hot June Saturday morning.  Don’t worry, I got munchkins, too.

(I see you there, jelly.  You my fav.)

Being old and drinking an extra-large coffee first thing in the morning, the inevitable happened: nature was calling for my first bathroom trip to ensue.  Not the end of the world, since this is always my getaway time for walking around, people watching, and taking in the surroundings of the pool.  Along the way, I noticed a very curvy girl strutting her stuff to anyone nearby bearing eyes.  What really begins to draw me in is the tramp stamp tattoo on her lower back.  Suddenly though, she stops at the lifeguard stand and begins her climb.

Thankfully, I snap from my awkward daze.  Nervously, I glance to my left and notice a couple women wearing looks of disgust, but it’s clearly not at me.  Whew.  I then peek right and another guy has his eyes still glued to the hovering chair in the sky.  Ahhh – It’s him that they are repulsed by.  It is interesting that at an event filled with all of these competing swimmers, a lifeguard is needed.  Then again, there are a whole lot of younger non-swimmer kids scurrying about as well as meandering grandparents, both of whom could easily take a tumble poolside.  The flashing of a red swimsuit gets me distracted once more as the guard performs her well-practiced spin into the seat.  Several dads easily just missed their kid’s event.

(Wendy, Wendy, Wendy . . . thank you, “The Sandlot”)

After passing the lifeguard show and then finally completing the initial task of making a liquid deposit, I head back to my huddled-up family who are gathered around our prized table.  Swim meets are always amazingly crowded and to actually achieve a designated area for your stuff (munchkins) is top notch.  We also got there disgustingly early in order to have this privileged luxury.

Choosing the long-ways path through the enemy territory of the opposing team’s section, I’m then able to avoid the lifeguard distraction zone.  However, along my travels, I overhear the following statement from a scolding mother to a whimpering 10-year-old son, “Don’t worry this isn’t your sport.” First thought, I’m guessing: swimming.  “This is just your training for the off-season.  Besides, it’s either this or ballet.” 

Wait – what?  I mean, I stopped and then dramatically looked back from where the sound had originated.  There they were – the culprits – mother and son.  She was being stern as she held each of her boy’s shoulders while giving a little shake for reaffirmation.  Meanwhile, in my head, my mind was beating itself up.  “It’s either this or ballet,” she said.  Huh?  “Swimming or Ballet.”  Nothing is connecting or matching up for me.  

Restarting my retreat, I kind of perform a stumbling meander and reach the table where my son and the rest of the family reside.  My parents are there now, too!  Geez – you would have thought that they learned their lesson of swim meet tortures through my “career” as a swimmer kid.  Remember – it’s three hours for three one-minute events. They’re gamers!

After gathering each of their attentions, I begin with a stammer but eventually retell the story.  Promptly, my wife is all over it and states that it’s like the Lewis Black joke about the horse and college.  “Swimming or Ballet?  What the hell does that mean?”  Sorry, again, my parents are there – let me rephrase that exclamation.  “Swimming or Ballet?  What the heck does that mean?”

(synchronized swimming became an Olympic sport for the first time in LA – 1984)

Nobody has a clue and the phrase just keeps spinning in my head.  At this moment, the mother and boy pass by our area.  My eyes are glued to them as my body swivels along their walking path.  I am so tempted to go up to them and just ask.  What could his sport possibly be, if swimming wasn’t it.  And, if swimming is the training for this other sport, with ballet as option number two, what is it?!?

Sadly, this is the part of the tale where I need to break the news that I never found out the answer and I’m very sorry, because I really should have just gone over and done that.  It’s kind of like those Serial Podcasts that hook you in and then after several days of hours upon hours of listening, you learn . . . “Yeah, we don’t really have an actual ending.”  What?  “Yeah, that’s all we got.  Thanks for listening.”

Now granted, it would have been an awkward moment, but who cares at this point, because then I could have a good closer for this story.  Instead, I leave you with speculation and possibly even more confusion.  In turn, I did what anyone else would have done given this baffling situation – I googled “what sports would ballet and swimming be good conditioning / training for.”  Ultimately, basketball was the conclusion that I came to.  So, there you have it, this 10-year-old Suburban white boy is the next Bron-Bron.  Sure.

(“Baby-Faced Assassin” and “King James”)

Done.  I don’t ever want to hear swimming and ballet in the same sentence again.  (That last one doesn’t really count.)  BUT – I do have a moral of the story.  If this should ever happen to you, go ask.  Right away.  The longer you wait, the more awkward it will be.  This summer that same kid will be 11.  If I see him and his mom, I don’t care, I’m asking!

And here’s the as promised link to the Lewis Black bit:

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