I am an athlete, an indifferent but dogged one. I took up rowing this summer and discovered yet another sport I can barely do. I made it through the entire season exactly because I don’t know what I’m doing so I fool myself into thinking I might be doing something right. Also it’s fun to be on the water with a bunch of people. Sometimes they bring drunken gummy bears.
Other things I found out this summer:
1. When I’m learning something new, I focus and lose track of all my other problems. So I don’t think about work. Unfortunately, if I’m told to focus on the person in front of me I lose track of my oar and it winds up flinging gallons of lake onto the person behind me. I can only learn one thing at a time and I can never please everyone.
2. I thought, “they’re going to like me because I’m so tall and strong.” I found out the mistakes of smaller, less strong people don’t screw up the boat as much and seldom cause screaming.
3. The part that I didn’t think about which makes me the most nervous is all the taking the boats apart and putting them back together. The good thing is that there is no electricity involved. The bad thing is that I am involved.
4. Being in the “stroke” seat makes me feel like I’m walking the plank. Every molecule of anxiety in my body is activated as I tense up and my brain is deprived of oxygen. It’s like putting a wild cat where what is needed is a lead sled dog. I’m glad nobody got their eyes scratched out because the other dogs didn’t like cats.
5. The “cox” seat is more fun but it’s sure hard to sit in when you have hips of any kind. Next time I’ll bring a pair of socks to stuff in my pants so I won’t bruise my hip bones. I used to have a boyish figure, now I look like an older man. I seem to have skipped the womanly part altogether. I couldn’t steer very well but at least there weren’t any tankers to hit.
6. I like being in the number 4 seat. Someday I may have the confidence to move up but right now I only really screw up the bow half of the boat. Fortunately for them, I’m so tall no one can see them if they screw up. Like Patrick McGoohan, I only think of myself as my number and when put in another seat I am confused as to who I am.
7. It is possible to win a medal even if you don’t know what you’re doing. Especially when you are the only boat in the race.
8. Lake water is more pleasant to swim in when you’re hot and tired from rowing. It’s also full of horrible bacteria that make you have to take antibiotics so your leg won’t fall off.
9. Water shoes can be cool. Mine are not. They look like gigantic black socks. Next year I will wear espadrilles, maybe a clingy skort, a bonnet which ties on my head and some Jackie O. sunglasses. That or a black cat suit which will go with the water shoes I already have.
10. Water and repetitive motion is calming. So is following clear directions and being part of a pack. Cleaning out a sewer as part of a prison work team or shoveling snow in the gulag are probably not good examples of this.