Groucho and I


I agree with Groucho Marx’s philosophy:

“I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.”

I have never been a member of a club or sorority.  My image has never graced the Society Page.  No sports team, small or large, from elementary through high school, has ever accepted me as a player.

However, for half a century, I have had one persistent goal:  to be an excellent swimmer.

My quest began on a summer morning, in 1962, when I was ten years of age:  It was the final day of swim lessons and it was my turn to demonstrate one lap of “free style” to the other students and to the instructor.

I was never afraid of the water and I never worried about appearing foolish, either.  I confidently “gave it my all” and churned through the water.  I assumed that I appeared competent — although, of course, I could not see myself.  When I finished my lap, I popped my head up and was surprised to hear and see . . . that the other students were . . . . laughing . . . hysterically . . . at  . . . me.

I joined in the laughter.  What else could I do?

I was dismayed and disappointed but I was not destroyed.  On that summer morning, I resolutely determined that becoming an excellent swimmer would be my life goal.  I would never again give any person an opportunity to laugh at me  . . .

. . .  about swimming, anyway . . .

Over the years, I took adult swim lessons from FSU Swim Team Coaches and private lessons from members of the FSU Swim Team.  There were many interruptions during those years.  However, about five years ago, I was accepted onto the Masters Swim Team:  I did not compete but I received excellent training and I relished the camaraderie.

I told you all of this so that you might have reason to exult with me:

I am now a Bona Fide Member of the Florida State University [FSU] Leach Recreation Center!  

Thanks to My Professor, our vehicle has a Faculty “Clicker & Sticker,”  which allows access to the gated Faculty Parking Lot, right next to Leach.

Also, thanks to My Professor, I have an FSU Identification Card, which allows me access into Leach.

AND I have my own locker in the Women’s Faculty & Staff Locker Room.  

I am almost 60 and I have achieved the goal:  I am not a fast swimmer but I am a competent, long-distance one.

My Professor usually finishes his laps before I complete mine, so sometimes he climbs the stairs to the “balcony” and watches me.  He assures me that I appear “masterful, elegant, and proficient.”  

These days, I rarely think about that morning, fifty summers ago.  No doubt, my fellow swim lesson buddies are now enjoying their Golden Years, as I am.  I wish them well and hope that they are healthy and fit.  I do not resent their past immaturity in the least.  On the contrary, I am grateful to them:  They were the catalyst — the jump start — for my quest to earn swimming success and fitness.

Those unaware young students gave me another opportunity, for which I say “Thanks:”  They gave me my first practice at learning to laugh at myself.  Laughter may not improve the unfortunate events in my life but laughter, the “good medicine, ” certainly makes them more bearable.

And my hearty thanks to you, Mr. Groucho Marx:

“I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today.  I can choose which it shall be.  Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet.  I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”

“Getting older is no problem. You just have to live long enough.”

[Quotes by Groucho Marx]



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