It is right smack in the middle of my work day. In the last few minutes my mind has been wandering away from my desk, destined for realms far away. Shaking my head, I determined that I needed an infusion of good old fashioned, man-made stimulant. I tuned to my bag for a Walgreens “Stay Awake” tablet (who needs coffee when you can have two cups worth of caffeine in a single dose?), when I saw my reminder for a new referral to my allergist. It was about that time that I wondered when was the last time I had seen my doctor. I pulled out my Palm OS device to check my calendar. I turned it on and the last screen I looked at before turning it off appeared. It was my notes for these entries. I saw the old note about not remembering any of Beth’s antics at Adventure Island a few weeks ago. Suddenly, without any advance warning, a memory popped into my head.
Yes, this is how we have arrived here today. There is no rhyme or reason. There is just a confounding sequence of events courtesy of yours truly.
We were at Adventure Island, a water park in Tampa, and I was trying to convince Beth that she should go down a water slide with me. Several factors were making this a hard sell. First, there was her underlying fear of the water. Considering that she does not know how to swim, I think this is a healthy fear, very Darwinian if you ask me. Second, she had bad experience the last time she tried a water slide. Travel back in time with me… we were at a Disney Resort… there was pool with a water slide… there was Beth with her father… there was her father reassuring her that he would catch her at the end… there was Beth coming down the slide… there was the look of terror on her face, staring at her own demise in the form of frothing water at the end of the slide… there was her father, a fraction of a second late as her head went under…. Now come back to Adventure Island with me… is there any wonder there was a lack of faith in the air? The shadows were growing long and I told Beth that it was about time to go home. She was obviously not quite ready to leave, so I decided to try another tack – good old fashioned manipulation. “Beth, if you go on a water slide with me we can stay a little longer.” There was a long pause as Beth gave this very serious consideration. Her fate hung in the balance and she was not going to be hasty with her decision. “O.K. daddy, I’ll go with you down the water slide.” Victory was mine! There was one important difference between this water slide and the one at Disney: parents were allowed to take their kids down the slide on their lap. I assured her that I would hold on to her and not allow her head to go under. It was like I never heard the phrase “don’t make promises you can’t keep”.
Cheryl, Beth and I walked up the approach to the slide. There was a long line, and I was worried that this would give Beth too much time to reconsider. I was just waiting for Beth to say, “I changed my mind daddy, lets go home.” I did everything I could to distract her from her pending doom. We talked about school, her new bathing suit, the pretty flowers next to us, and just about anything else I could think of that didn’t involve the water slide. The moment of truth came and Beth hesitantly sat down in my lap at the top of the slide. As I pushed off I could sense her change of heart. We picked up speed and I shouted with glee. Beth did not. The moment she was dreading came sliding towards us – the end of the line. Just as my backside left the end of the slide, partially submerged in the pool, I put both hands under Beth’s arm pits to hold her up. I swung my feet under me in a smooth motion that I hoped would lift both of us out of harm’s way. As it turned out, my legs were just a little late in responding. As my feet slipped from underneath me and my ass headed to the bottom, I hoisted Beth above my head in a desperate attempt to keep her safe. There was Beth, held aloft by a pair of hands that disappeared underneath the onslaught of water coming from the slide, her daddy no where in sight (other than his hands). Chlorinated water was stinging my mucous membranes and I was running out of air, so I struggled to get to my feet while holding Beth aloft. Standing up, holding forty pounds above your head, is not as easy as it sounds. It was as if Sitisdeus, the lesser known Roman god of dry land, was right there with us. (Author’s note: that was pretty weak, I know – but I never took any Latin in school and I was just too lazy to research something better.) I managed to lift both of us out of the water and out of the pool, without getting Beth’s head wet.
Faith in her daddy restored, Beth was ready to go home.
“Did you like that Beth?”
“Yeah daddy, that was pretty cool.”
“Do you want to go down again before we go home?”