All the recent hurricane coverage with the ocean shots took me back to a time when a sneaky and treacherous ocean sought to prematurely age my parents.
I was almost 10 and we were heading for Key West once again. We stopped off in Jacksonville Florida to visit my uncle and to take in a bit of beach time. We had missed a tropical storm by a few days and the ocean had a pretty good chop which excited us kids.
I knew how to lake-swim quite well but because of the rough seas, my brother and I weren't allowed to go in over our knees. I don't know if you are familiar with rip currents or what we used to call rip tides.
They are narrow, fast-moving belts of water traveling off shore towards the deeper waters. The currents are so strong that they can pull grown ups off their feet. What is deceptive about them is that the water appears smooth and calm in the trough. People can drown in these by fighting the currents till exhausted as they are strong enough to defeat even Michael Phelps. Often they drag non-swimmers into deep water. These are serious quirks of nature.
I was walking parallel to the shore in my allowed knee high depth when suddenly my feet were just snapped from under me and I zoomed out to sea. At first my back side bounced roughly along the bottom then just as quickly, I was suspended in a gritty fast moving current.
I was too startled to be frightened as I flew through the water out to sea. Just as quickly, the current quit and when I looked to shore I found I was quite a way from the beach. People on shore seemed small and barely recognizable but I could hear screams and saw lots of arm waving.
“Swim to your right.” came an instruction via bull horn. Being an obedient child, I did just that when I noticed some one coming towards me on a surf board. Goodness, it was that cute life guard (Ok, have you ever seen a homely lifeguard?) He pulled me out of the water on to the board with him and I was instantly smitten. Yes, I did mature early.
Too quickly he paddled us back to shore where my parents smothered me in embraces which embarrassed me a lot. Mom was crying and Dad just looked pale. I mean, why? I had a few scratches but was Ok.
Then I stunned them with one sentence.
“Can I do it again?” I asked in all sincerity for that was one heck of a ride. Gritty but fun and the ride back was really cool.
Tiredly Mom looked at Dad and said with a tiny smile, “You are going to have to kill her Ray, I am just too drained.” Then my whole family burst out laughing in relief. Though I didn't get the joke I was pretty sure a rerun was not in my future.
It was later that I learned that what had happened was dangerous and could have been tragic. However, the expression “can I do it again,” became a standard taunt in the future when I did or wanted to do something not too bright.
Kids really are responsible for all the gray hair in this world.