In continuing with Lelly's SPT Challenges of 2008, the entire month of August pertains to the Olympic qualities
It is a well-known fact that I ... am extremely athletic. Grown men weep when they see me walk into the gym, knowing I am about to bury them in shame on the bench press. Professional athletes of all sports have been known to scurry away in fear when I approach. Biking, running, tennis, skydiving, weight lifting, team sports, solo events ........ truly, my talents are legendary and my skills awe-inspiring.
Which is why this Self-Portrait Challenge, to highlight myself with Olympic qualities, has been such an easy one for me. In fact, the biggest challenge I've faced has been LIMITING myself to only one activity and photograph a week. But since I don't want to make the rest of you .... even those of you who consider yourself "in shape" (finger quotes, as compared to me .....) feel bad about yourselves when comparing yourself to me and my total athletic awesomeness, I've worked hard to not be all Braggy McBraggyPants.
This past weekend, the venue of choice for me and my awesomeness was water-sports. Made sense, since we spent the weekend at the lake, that the specific area of water skiing would be one where I would shine. After all, I grew up spending every weekend at the lake, boating and skiing with my parents. This was back in the days before we had cool water toys like wave runners or jet skis. We rode in a BOAT, dammit. And we didn't get pulled around on fancy schmancy pretty-boy toys like knee-boards or wake-boards or U-skis. No, sir, we learned to ski on long, skinny pieces of wood called WATER-SKIS .... the kind WITHOUT fancy grippy foot pads or galvanized rubber shoe attachments. And we didn't have comfy, cushy ski gloves, or padded rubber ski handles, either. We held on to a wooden stick tied to the end of a rope and if you were LUCKY it only rubbed a dozen blisters off your palms and if you weren't lucky you got splinters from the wood on top of the blisters. We learned to ski young, and ski tough, by golly, and since that was all there was to do, we got darn good at it.
(Wait. I'm getting perilously close to the edge of the "we walked uphill to school both ways in the snow barefoot and we liked it" mode of lecturing, aren't I?)
Anyway, my point is that I learned to ski when I was ten, and learned to slalom ski when I was twelve. And with the exception of very few summers in between now and then, I have skied pretty much every summer since, at least one time, so I can say with pride and arrogance, "Check me out ... I still got it."
OK .... in all honesty, I might not be very athletic, but I've ALWAYS been able to water ski. Want proof? Here's a picture of me from 2006, skiing five weeks (four?) after giving birth:
The form might not be the best around, but there I am ............. upright.
This weekend, when I was ready to take my turn on the slalom, my brother-in-law Cliff, who really, really, really wants the best for me but unfortunately, is also an unfailingly honest person, asked if I wouldn't rather try wake-boarding instead. I have never enjoyed wake-boarding ... in fact, I'm not even sure I've ever gotten up on one. When I asked why he thought I might prefer wake boarding to skiing, he reminded me that they lost my favorite slalom ski earlier in the summer. He also explained to me that the new ski they bought to replace the old ski was slimmer, and caused much more drag, which makes it much harder to get up on. MUCH harder, Cliff repeated.
Inwardly, I scoffed.
(Yes. Totally scoffed.)
Come on. I've been skiing since I was TEN. I hardly think the SKI is going to make a difference. I mean, I am practically a PROFESSIONAL SKIER, Cliff .... don't even insult me.
TAKE YOUR PANSY WAKEBOARD AND KEEP IT FOR THE YOUNG WHIPPER SNAPPERS WHO DON'T KNOW ANY BETTER.
PASS. ME. THE. SKI.
"OK," Cliff replied. "Just remember you're going to need to really tuck and hang on through the drag."
I jumped off the back of the boat and got settled in the water. He threw me the ski and as I wrestled it onto my foot, I found myself thinking, "Dang, these boots are freaking tight!" In fact, by the time I got the ski ON MY FEET, I was already winded.
Cliff drove the boat around to give me the rope. I held my balance perfectly in the water (remember, I am an awesome athlete) and waited for him to give it some gas.
I remember hearing the engine rev ..........................
feeling a tug on my shoulders ............
Next thing I knew, I was in the water, face first.
"Hmmmmm," I thought. "That didn't go quite like I had planned. Oh well, this is my first time this summer, and my first time on this new ski. I'm sure a learning curve is in order."
Cliff circled the boat around again ..... I held steady ..... he gunned the engine ....
As he circled around again, I made a laughing comment about how it appeared I was more out of shape than I realized. Cliff tried once more to reassure me that the new ski was difficult for even him to get up on ..... and maybe I would rather wakeboard???
Well, at that point, you might as well wave a red flag in front of my nose.
No, by golly, I'll get up on this damn ski or die trying!!!
And that's about what happened.
I must have tried twenty or thirty times to get up on that )&%*($&%)$(* ski.
At one point, I heard an emergency notice going out over the boat radio from meteorologists in the area, shocked and concerned by the sudden drop in the water level of the lake .... a total of almost six inches in twenty minutes. I can assure them that every missing drop of lake water was firmly lodged in my sinus cavity.
I couldn't get up on that damn ski to save my life.
Cliff kept offering helpful suggestions like, "Tuck tighter!" and "Keep your elbows down!" and most helpful, "Quit falling!"
I replied, "I'm too fat to tuck any tighter!" and "They ARE straight, you moron!" and "&*#$^#(*&%$#(&$!!!!!!!" (I'm sure he counts his blessings EVERY DAY that he married into this family.)
Finally, I conceded defeat. It was the first summer in thirty YEARS that I couldn't get up on a slalom ski. But I'd be damned if I was going to suffer through an entire sinus cavity full of lake water without ANYTHING to show for it, so I asked the boys in the boat to throw me the wakeboard.
I would like to point out that to anyone who is accustomed to skiing, that wake-boarding is actually quite different. Your legs are side-by side, as opposed to one in the front and one in the back. Your feet face sideways, not toes in front. And I was constantly leaning over forwards, with my knees bent, instead of a graceful back-lean like I enjoy while skiing.
And although I was upright at last, I think you can see for yourself how much fun I was having:
Now, don't you wish you were as athletic as me?