Ugh. Sweat-fest of 114 degrees
Don’t you hate when the bacteria under your armpits is so bad you feel like it’s going to pick you up and carry you away? Don’t ever get there, you say? Then you’ve never lived in the desert, that’s for sure. Our wonderful areas in the real Northern California, up in the middle of the top third above the Bay Area (actually CENTRAL California, but they made the change at the turn of the 1900’s to win more commerce and become economically superior [sadly, it worked too], so our political representation is minimal [even being twice the land mass] as compared to S.F. or L.A., but they don’t even need there name spelled out). Enough political woeful musing.
Today is a little different, with a wonderful cool snap. It’s only eighty degrees instead of near 100 and it’s past noon. Yay! Time to chop holes in the side of the house, just under the roof, and put those vents in! Ladder-work is hard on me, especially holding skilsaws and stuff, but venting our sealed attic will drop the heat monstrously!
I have a memory of leaning against a door as a kid and complaining to my Mom about how hot it was…126 degrees in Red Bluff, hotter than Death Valley. She looked up from sewing on her machine and said, “Go find something to do then! Boredom is lazy because there is always something to do. Now go play and give yourself something fun to do.”
I don’t remember what I did, just that uncomfortable heat and the picture in my head of my “woe is me” time. When I was young I thought it was mean & not very nice…yet having raised my kids and dealing with grandkids now, I say the same thing to them. I never get bored! That day I pretty much stopped. She was right, there is always something to do. It may not be something you really want to do, but there is always something…
We’re Number One! We’re Number One!
So I’m thinking of a time when I was given an official numero uno, Number ONE privilege, the very first something ever…and I’m reminded of being in Berkeley. My uncle Tony and I went down to the corner market to get a soda, and I had a silver dollar that was literally burning my hand (well, slightly anyway) from my grandfather’s body heat, holding it in his hand until he could round me up long enough to place it in my palm, then wrap all my fingers around it, leaning over and whispering in my ear, “This is for you Mike.”
Then he’d lean back with a satisfied smile, and wink at me. So we head down to the Berkeley Market, go inside and get a candy bar, then sit on the curb eating. A beverage truck pulls up and the guy heads inside with a clipboard. They always wore white coats like doctors back then and kept it clean somehow too. Anyway, the guy comes out and opens the side of his truck to get to the rows of
bottles and reaches in, then turns and faces us, saying, “You boys look pretty hot, wanna try somethin’ new?”
We looked at each other and said, “Sure Mister!” in unison. He hands us each a 12 ounce bottle of something different than I’d ever seen, a dark liquid in a clear bottle with like yellow, stary kinda things on it all over, and three letters, T-A-B. “Tab,” he says and produces an opener out of his pocket and pops them open for us. “Give ‘er a try!” then he paused, reaching back into his truck for something, then, reappearing, finished, “And let me know what you think, okay?” We were already taking a big guzzle abd gulping down the dark liquid. “Ahhhh!” we both exclaimed, then a second later, looked each other in the eye and bunched our faces up. “What was that?” I said to the driver. He says, “Supposed to be some new-fangled drink…maybe some kinda diet stuff for the ladies or sumpin.”
“Pl-ah, pl-ah, pl-ah” we pretended feigning being ill. He rolled his eyes at us, shrugged, then smiled and headed into the store. “Diet…” he trailed as he walking inside. When he came back out, we tried to hit him up for a couple of orange crushes and he said okay, for giving him our opinion.
Then he told us, “You boys are the first people in the entire Bay Area to even taste that new Tab soda! I know cuz I’m the first truck to carry it and I leave first before any other drivers, and Berkeley Market is my first stop… so you are the FIRST!” he boasted, then asked, “Think it will sell?” He paused a second, “You really didn’t like it?” We shook our heads in both yes and no directions. “It was okay, but it’s got this kinda weird taste, what stays in yer throat after,” Tony said and I nodded agreement, “Yah.” It was my very first officially known first at anything, so it was COOL.
Size 10-1/2 Paddles
I’ve got big, flat feet (and kinda hairy legs). It-was-not-my-fault, runs in the family. When I walk, though, they catch peebles and stuff, just like a magnet, and one shoe throws it into my other shoe. Friggin pebbles jumping into my sandals as I walk. I hate it. Dunno why either. Nobody else I know has this problem. Other people walking beside me in sandals don’t have this problem. Kids only have it happen on occasion, but for ME, it’s happened to me all my life.
I understand some Native Americans believe rocks are just as alive with life inside, as grass or a tree is. I can go with that. Just because life moves slow and looks non-existent doesn’t mean it isn’t there, especially if you look at it scientifically, and know about all the space between molecules. Nothing truly is a solid according to what I’ve read. So, I guess that means rocks are alive. So I surmise that the ROCK PEOPLE LIKE ME. So it’s a good thing, but bothersome when they hitchhike too often.
Swimming is supposed to be faster if you are blessed with flat feet (bwah-ha-ha!) and during those days my two boats were size 10-1/2. Awarded 1969’s “most improved swimmer” trophy on Triton’s Swim Team, I guess it was true for me. I was the youngest swimmer in my class, only 14 yrs old at start of season, my AAU Age Class was 15-17 yrs. My coach wanted me to win my last race and beat the oldest swimmer in our class (he had turned 17 yrs old), but I was one-hundredth behind him, swimming his race, not mine.
Coach Kurt’s disappointment and anger at me for not beating that guy, combined with my personal insecurities, changed the course of my life. I was so down and beat myself up. I quit competitive swimming forever. Later I discovered he had made a bet and was upset about losing the money. Kids take things seriously, so watch it!
My best for 100 meter butterfly was 1:04.1 seconds, setting Double AA time, beating the first world record set in 05-31-1953 of 1:04.3 by Gyorgy Tumpek, Budapest (Hungary), according to. I was told if I’d have broken 1:04 seconds, I’d have been sent to the Junior Olympics. So how much is a hundredth of a second? Less than an elbow length…how different would life…? Those pesky “what if’s . . .”
My idol at the time was Mark Spitz. Although he had ten world records going in, Spitz finished second in Mexico City Olympics (1968) with a 56.4 for 100 meter butterfly. Mark Spitz’s 1969 world record was 55.6, much, much faster than me (like almost a half pool length), but my personal record was a big mark for me. Mark Spitz’ set 33 world records (26 individual, 7 relay) before retiring, still only 22 years old.
Michael Fred Phelps II (born June 30, 1985) is an American competition swimmer and the most decorated Olympian of all time, with a total of 22 medals from three different Olympics. Michael Phelps world record for 100 meter butterfly of 49.82 still stands today, won during the 2012 Olympics.
Our Speedo swim team suits were mainly a two-way stretch nylon tricot lycra, and we (male) swam bare-chested. Later on, the LZR Racer Suit (pronounced as ‘laser’) was launched on 13 February 2008, a line of high-end swimsuits manufactured by Speedo using a high-technology swimwear fabric composed of woven elastane-nylon and polyurethane. This was the swimsuit Michael Phelps was wearing when he won all his medals.
Following the December 2008 European Short Course Championships in Croatia, where 17 world records fell, it was felt there was a need to modify the rules surrounding swimsuits. The combined effects of the LZR both compressing the body and trapping air for buoyancy led to many competitors who used the LZR wearing two or more suits for an increased effect. This led to some claiming that the LZR was in effect “technological doping”.
Here’s a Michael Phelps butterfly video showing the stroke:
Naked to the World
The worst thing about those swimsuits, was my age…and shrinkage. Boys are very aware of this even when wallflowers. My first year in swimming, I was thirteen. There were highly-fit, shapely and beautiful girls of all sizes and shapes, from kindergarten to our 18 yr old Coach’s Assistant, walking around all-day-long in second skin tight, form-fitting, one-piece, competitive swimsuits… and my body was waking up to the pace of raging hormones! Adding in the imagination of an artist and desire of a body feeling the instinctive need to pro-create, I would have been far more dangerous, had I not been a wallflower.
We had a visit to the swim team by a couple girls who were on the Santa Rosa swim team, who asked if they could practice with us while they stayed in town. Our coach was fine with this and felt the experience of faster swimmers could enhance our efforts at becoming faster. It worked great for me and I set my sights on Liz. She was a little faster than me and we competed during our warm up laps…setting up an opening for conversation later. I was in first love and we spent two wonderful days hanging out before she left.
However, it seemed for me, the times my body was attracted to a girl or woman, was not always when my mind was in the same place. Never understood that, especially when laying down on a towel 150 yards from the closest bathroom at an out of town swim meet. Luckily, I was never called to swim during one of my unfortunate episodes, and I only remember once when a girl happened to notice. I really liked Ruth too, yet after that personal embarrassment, rather than face her again, I stayed away from her until the season ended. What a woose…
Paper Sir? Paper Ma’am!
As a newspaperboy selling on the street, I went a lot of places. One of my regular places was the local hospital to sell papers to the patients and nurses. It was a good job… kept me out of trouble for the most part. Also meant I was a snot-nosed street kid, but one of the good kind. I was a Cub Scout growing up in a small town of 2500 people, same as my Dad said the town size was when he was growing up down in Oakland. I can’t even imagine Oakland being that small, it’s so friggin’ big nowadays!
It was fun talking to people, especially some of the really strange conversations selling to people in the bars, and I was independent at an early age from it. The only time danger ever came around was usually also when adults were watching, except on Saturdays, when population was sparse and the newspaper office was closed…on those days, I always checked from the alley and watched for a bit before heading over to drop off my tinder fares in the envelope
slot, the counter lady giving me one before I took my papers out, so we could figure owes at four cents for each one we sold…we got six cents a piece. I always had a buck or two during those years and built my savings (after candy bar and soft drink operating expenses, of course) up to a mighty $29.00 adding to it whenever I thought of it over the next three years. Had I not been such a shopper already at nine years old, buying albums, models and bike parts, I’d have done better.
Each of my street routes took me through a number of businesses of daily obligation and with one route I got to go into the hospital, I really enjoyed talking with the nurses. I knew a few since my Mom worked there, plus one was a distant relative, like seventeen cousin removed, and I also knew a few who were Moms of schoolmates. One nurse though, was special…she used to flirt with me. I was at that age where it tickled deep down in my soul, making my body feel funny inside…but in a nice way. She was very well endowed, with a very fit figure and a beautiful face that smiled a lot, warming me inside.
Ha’Cha! Adult Training, Class 101
I was a witty and cute, slightly geeky, curious kid with a very high vocabulary from reading so much (college sophomore in sixth grade according to the Iowa Basic tests), so I understood many of the terms they used while talking with each other, and dropped into conversation when I could, my smarts easily allowing me to mingle. I loved science, and with medicine being my second after invention, trivia knowledge via Ripleys Believe it or Not books made me subject of interest with most adult crowd. I often overheard “ten going on thirty” from adults at edge of earshot, so apparently I was interesting, and loved catching them off-guard with some amazing fact, my shy, but winning personality, admitting me into daily conversation with almost all the nurses.
One day my special lady nurse was busy and I followed her to see what she was doing in the old wing of the hospital. I’d only walked through the hallway a few times, once seeing almost all the rooms empty except for on room where this heavy lady was strapped to a bed, body writhing all around and screaming loudly…once she saw me, anyway. Her face resembled Large Marge for PeeWee’s Big Adventure and she had scared the hell out of me when she screamed after I said, “Daily News” to her. Suddenly I heard some guy at the other end of the hall yell, “Hey you there! What you doin’?” and that frightened me too, so I hauled ass out the backdoor exit as fast as I could and hid behind a bush. A couple seconds later the guy ran outside following me, but he didn’t see me so I was scot-free!
They didn’t have very many people in that wing and usually most of them didn’t buy a paper anyway, either being a crazy person and strapped down, or sleeping, or just too sick to do much talking. One guy motioned me over to him. He was skinny and wrinkly and seemed like he wanted to say something to me, so I leaned over close to his mouth and heard, “Aurgh, ah, aurgh,” then he just did this super heavy sigh, “Aroughahaaaaa,” and then he was gone in a wisp og smoke about twice as transparent as a smoker’s exhale breath. I knew what had happened and a nurse was there just after he perished. She looked at me and said, “are you alright?” a look of concern crossing her face. Dunno how I convinced her, my “Ya, I’m okay,” so weak and feeble. I knew what had happened and wondered why I didn’t see something special when he died, then realized I had in the little cloud that left with him.
Anyway, I caught up with her in a room where some guy looked like a skin-covered skeleton. She snapped her head up at me as I stood in the doorway and she asked me what I was doing. I told her I just wanted to see where she was going and all, then walked in the room and took a look out the window. She was busy tending to the sleeping corpse-guy, and said, “You know you aren’t supposed to be in here, er, I mean, on this side of the hospital, and that’s why those doors are closed.” I lied, “Oh, sorry,” because I wasn’t. She said, “well, I guess since I am here it’s alright, but you gotta promise to go as soon as I am done with this patient.” Then she leaned over and began to adjust the bed (back in the days of crank-handles).
Clash of the Titans
I was suddenly witness to a tennis match, “love!” “love!” “love!” betrayed in the back and forth action revealed to my youthful virgin eyes. When she noticed my early puberty vision riveted to her show in display of undulating wonders, she smiled a big, warm smile, her cheeks suddenly rosy, and she told me straight out, “You should never be embarrassed in admiring the beauty of a woman’s body motions,” completing her task.
Nonetheless, the room now glowed in a soft red from the brightly lit shimmering of my nine year old face, my ears burning with the addition of color intensity seeing her rhythm, lowered eyes and seductive smile. Suddenly I was experiencing the first noticeable reveal of my own, sexuality blooming hormones into the air of that private room. My mind immediately went into a swift and sudden daydream…slowly unzipping her uniform with my hand and seeing a reveal of white lace over flesh, and just as her aureola was slowly coming into view… no, wait, her uniform had changed…(oh, stop me please! I am able to step back into that memory, feeling all the same sensations…yes, what a wonderful experience some memories can be!)
Whew. SNAP! Reality then hit me like a ton of bricks as I suddenly realized, she knew. My face grew even redder by then, but there was no containing myself! No cool exit. I quickly spun around to the window and mumbled something about the view, yet I was caught, pants up, totally naked in front of her. I knew that she knew… plus that there was nothing I could do about it. My mind spun: she knew, she knew, she knew.
The blaze on my ears spread to my chest. She finished what she’d been doing, and exited the room so swiftly and quietly I didn’t even realize she’d left, and only a minute later, the stark quiet yelled at me. Turning my head quickly, saw she had left and saved me more embarrassment. As I went out to the back exit door again on that day, I saw her wave from the other side of the long hallway, before slipping out and getting away as fast as I could.
For the next several weeks, each time I closed my eyes at night, I saw her, teaching me to please a woman in every way possible. Next time I arrived at the nurse’s station, several days later after avoiding them just in case she said something, I discovered she’d transferred to another hospital. Even though I’d been embarrassed greater than ever before in life, I was completely crushed. She’d been one of the few adult persons that treated me real and not like a kid, teasing and flirting with me, all the while harmlessly pulling me out of my shell of shyness. She opened me into the world of, adult flirting, the teasing parlay with innuendo. What a wonderful education she was for this chubby, freckle-faced, and insecure kid, “Opie”, in the more innocent and safe world of the late sixties in a small western town.
Ditty of Juvenility
Each of us has a period in time when life turns and you are recognized for abilities beyond. For me, it was in my freshman year I got “a rose pinned on my nose, while winning a medal.” That was usually a term of sarcasm delivered to me by my Mom when I screwed up as a kid. However, it came true after starting high school. In superb shape from all the practices while on the swim team, doing warm-up for P. E. was waaay easy. I had huge lungs! My record for underwater swimming was three-quarters of a 50 meter swimming pool, by the end of my second season. So running our one-mile warmup was nothing! It did tax my legs, but I could sing while running without any huffing or puffing…much to the chagrin to other guys in the school.
Then something new was added…the Presidential Fitness Award. It was a test in physical prowess, agility and endurance which not everyone could pass. My best friend, John A., and I were the only boys in the school which passed…and we were honored in a student body assembly with the entire school. My social embarrassment was in high gear that day, but was warmed out of me when the girls took notice of me — something I’d never experienced before.
During Spirit Week for Homecoming, they had a contest called “Mr. Irresistible” and it was this crazy thing where guys got kissed and a paper medal was given them. Robbie R. was my ideal dream of a woman at that time. She raised the stakes by rallying all her friends to award me with kisses and paper medals…one of the most wonderful experiences I ever felt in my life up until then! Some girls gave a peck on the cheek, some kissed on the lips, but Robbie gave me a long and full french kiss — my first ever — and lifted my heart so high I was off the ground for the next few days!
Even after I discovered a couple days later that it was to make her boyfriend, Peter P., jealous, it didn’t matter…another first timer situation in life which propelled me closer into adulthood from puberty than ever before. Of course I was a little crushed that all her attention was a misdirection as soon as I found out, I wasn’t too sad since it also made me popular with the girls. Our school was unique in that only 29 boys in the entire student body that year, with over 80 girls. Pickin’s were wonderful and I was ready to play the field, never having had opportunity before. And life was strange…I’d lost 30 lbs, plus gained five inches, bleached blond hair (tinted with green from chlorine) and a fabulous full body tan (which lasted beyond January), I was a Beach Boy catch.
It really blossomed me out of my shy nature, yet brought other problems I had no experience to deal with at all. Girls are just as fickle at that age, playing with heart-strings in their own dealings with puberty, hormonal changes, and development of social skills, so I was played quite often. It was always crushing to find a girl was paying attention for some reason other than really liking you…for me that was far more devastating than for others who had previous experience. As a late bloomer, it hardened me to a point I became fickle, crushing a few innocent hearts I should not have crushed because of the affect it had on their lives, though my callousness only lasted for a few short weeks during that adjustment period of life. Those memories will always remind me of what it feels to be held in high standards…and judged while relying on others for your personal values and self-assessment.
It was a hard lesson, yet one worthy to learn…you gotta be pleased within yourself and honor your self-image…never from outside of your self. If you don’t, your self image will be destroyed, weakening your character and preventing you from achieving a lot of things during your lifetime. It is far easier to learn while young than to waste a lifetime and learn it without being able to sow your seed in the sea of mistakes and free abandon which youth provides.