I almost died on my honeymoon.
Well, maybe not exactly, but I sure felt like I was gonna die. I blame my wife. But, maybe part of the blame lies with me?
Growing up, I loved sports and I loved anything athletic. Except one thing, swimming. Here’s a confession. As a 30 year old man, I do not know how to swim. People will ask me why? Am I scared? Did I never learn? Or the best is when they tell me, “It’s so easy!” Well, of course it’s easy to you. You know how to swim. Doing a backflip is easy to me, but maybe not to you. To answer the questions. Well, why do I not know how to swim? That’s kinda a long answer and a little hard to answer. So, I’m kinda scared of water and I did take lessens as a youth.
I loved sports growing up. Our neighborhood had lots of boys my age and we all loved the same thing. Grabbing a bat and ball or a football and just playing our hearts out. I played little league baseball for a number of years and had ambitions to pursue it in high school and beyond, but pro wrestling completely consumed my life and everything fell to the wayside. My parents supported my love for baseball and encouraged me to pursue other sports. One of those was swimming. Well, I don’t think they wanted me to actually become a swimmer, they just wanted me to learn. Neither of my parents knew how to swim, so they enrolled me in classes at the local pool, which was less than a mile walk from our home in Burke, VA.
I guess my parents never needed to swim growing up? My father was too busy going from one country to another. His father, my grandfather was a diplomat in the Indian government and frequently was stationed in various different countries. He even spent three months at sea. As for my mother, I can only assume, growing up in New Delhi, India, swimming was never a big thing to do. Although, you’d think it’d be the number one thing to do, seeing as how it’s hot, really hot, all the time. Anyhow, I was enrolled in classes and I can vividly remember the first time I stepped into the pool. Of course it was in shallow waters, but immediately I thought that this was it and my life was going to end. I was use to walking on the ground and having complete power over myself and my movements. Now, all of a sudden, I was in water with no control and feeling that I was sinking. Quickly, I gasped for air and something to hold on to. From day one, the water and I didn’t get along. The instructors quickly noticed my despair and put me in the very beginners class. So, I was in swimming classes with little kids and all of my friends had ammunition to ridicule me when summer was over and we returned to school.
After my few week course, I was by no means a swimmer. I could do a little something and had I returned to the pool and practiced, maybe I’d know how to swim by now. But, the fact is after the lessons ended, I never went back to the pool or in any water. My friends and I were more intent on playing baseball or tackle football in our free time and rarely wanted to go to the pool. I remember a few times I would go and just sit around or that one time where all my friends threw me in. Well, that wasn’t the coolest thing to do to someone who has a slight fear of water. Alex Shelley once convinced me to get in the hotel pool on one of our road-trips to a TNA show. I stayed in the safety of shallow waters, except when, I think it was Shelley who dunked my head underwater. Not cool!
Oh, my second instructor was my seven year old niece. She was insistent that “I can teach you to swim, it’s easy!!” So, as a 20 something year old grown ass man, I let this seven year old little girl teach me how to swim…at a public pool…so, the whole neighborhood could see.
My wife tried many times to teach me to swim, as she was a great swimmer growing up and even competed. I start off great, and eventually, I feel my knees scrapping against concrete and I realize I’ve sunk to the bottom. By now, I’ve given up on swimming. But, what if I had a life-jacket on? Could I swim then? Well, my wife convinced me that I could. We were on our honeymoon in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on a snorkeling excursion and I told her that she could by all means go in the water. But, I would sit it out. After badgering and convincing me that the life-jacket would be all I needed to enjoy my time deep in one of the largest bodies of water in the world, I gave in.
We took a boat ride into the perfect area with classic Reggae music blasting as we were on a cruise in the Bahamas. I was feeling positive and tried not to let the negative thoughts override what could be a gorgeous moment for a newly married couple. I mean, hey, I can’t swim in a pool, but the Atlantic Ocean? According to my wife, that’ll be cake! I got my trusty life-jacket on. My worries and fears will disappear, I will head to the bottom of the ocean, check out whatever is down there and come away with a cool conch shell as a souvenir. Sadly, none of that happened. What did happen? I felt like I was going to die while the Jamaican hustlers running this racket laughed at me from the safety of their boat. As soon as I entered the water, I was done. I started sinking and gasped for air and grabbed my wife’s arm as hard as possible. This was my only link to safety. I grabbed on for dear life as she yanked me back to the boat. She loves to tell the story according to her version, which includes her fearing for her life. As she says I was going to pull her down with me. Well, in any case, if I go down, we are going down together! It may have only been 10 seconds, but it felt like 10 minutes. Failure. Complete and utter failure. After many “I told you so’s” to my wife, I calmed down and encouraged her to dive in while I watched. It was what I wanted to do from the get go!
Alls well, that ends well. I made it out safe and vowed that the water and I were just not meant to be. Well, maybe it is? My mother started taking lessons and can swim great now and my daughter is almost two now and she’s pretty much a little fish in the water. Am I the next in the family to, GULP, swim???