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The unspeakable abuse of Elmo

My sister and her husband navigate through sweltering Alabama summers by pool hopping. On weekends, they lounge poolside at apartment complexes where friends live, once lived, or might live next year ... or possibly in the next life.

Last Saturday found them alone next to shimmering blue water at Sussex Place West; "friends in residence" had taken a vacation or moved, or something.

Basking in the sun, my brother-in-law sweated profusely as his body temperature soared. He decided to take a dip. A child-size inner tube, featuring a 3-D red Elmo with his arms wrapped around the plastic top side, drifted in the otherwise undisturbed pool.

As he approached the edge of the deep end, near the abandoned floatie, my sister's spouse heard her, for a little fun, shout, "Betcha' can't dive through the tube."

"I can, but I'm not," he called back.

"I dare you," she taunted. Still, he refused.

"I double dog dare you." He shook his head, in response, with sweat pouring off his brow. Uncertainty prevails about whether the heat, or the anxiety over the dare, caused him to perspire like a fat lady at an all you can eat raw vegetable buffet.

"I triple dog dare you!"

Well, there you have it. No man on earth can walk away from a triple dog dare with his masculinity intact. She verbally cornered her spouse, who had no choice but to capitulate.

Without saying anything, he turned, raised onto his toes, leapt into the air, and maneuvered his hulking torso toward the watery bulls-eye. His hands deftly glided through the target, making way for his head and shoulders. Already, his brain screamed "Hah! I told you so!"

Then it put out a Mayday call. The tube hit a little snag, as my sister's groom likes to put it. Feeling strong resistance and hearing a loud pop, in defeat he drifted noiselessly to the bottom of the pool, with Elmo hugging his midsection.

The fluttering tube made Elmo's hands wave helplessly at my sister, who stood on the pool deck wondering if she should call the paramedics or a good attorney first.

At long last, her spouse surfaced, complaining of abdominal pain. They acted fast to remove the tube now cutting off the circulation to his head, feet and gut.

First they tried pulling it in the direction the momentum of the dive had started it. All that budged was my brother-in-law's liver. Next they attempted to heave Elmo back in the direction from which he arrived at this unpleasant location. Again, only flesh shifted and stretched.

Suddenly, as her beloved began to feel light headed from lack of oxygen, my sister had a brilliant idea. She lathered his belly with sunscreen. Then she pulled in one direction as the Greg Luganis impersonator backed away in the other. He shot out of his corset.

As he slid across the pavement on his bottom, he forgave his wife out of sheer relief. But they had no time to discuss the ordeal, because legitimate pool goers approached. Quickly, the pair reclaimed their positions in the chairs, leaving Elmo in a crumpled heap of plastic, slick with sweat and 30 spf lotion.

A Mama placed pool supplies on a table while her three year old child scanned the water for his adored Elmo. The interlopers knew the child had discovered it when he let out an agonized yelp, dropped dramatically to his knees, cradled his flotation device and sobbed "Oh Elmo, you are dead."

Meanwhile, the Muppet mauler wrapped a towel around his blazing ring of fire and skulked away.



Web posted on Thursday, June 30, 2005











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