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Putting on a peep show on water skis

Growing up, I always thought my parents were too old for summer, because they would constantly tell us kids not to sit on the sofa in our wet bathing suits.

Freshly finished with conducting my own drenched children away from absorbent upholstery, I heard someone call for adult skiers. My husband smiled devilishly and said, "That's you babe." Briefly, I empathized with the surprised fish on a hook dangling in the sunshine.

I hadn't water skied years. "I just had a baby," I protested.

"Honey," snapped my spouse, "she's five. You've had a sufficient post-partum recovery period."

Friends cajoled me, saying, "I'll go if you go."

It's like riding a bike, they all encouraged. And I meekly agreed, although I had never swallowed a lung of water toodling down the sidewalk on my two-wheeler.

My diabolical alter ego teased, If you don't do it, you're too old for summer.

Currently in a cosmic battle against middle age advance, I simply refuse to be too old for anything ... reasonably safe.

"One ski or two," the captain asked. I paused to assess my options. Yes, I could probably get out of the water easier on two, but I might deteriorate into that awkward, out of shape stance, bent at the waist, reaching forward to hold the rope, with one ski in and one ski out of the wake.

"One," I blurted, as I stripped myself of visor, hairclip, sunglasses, and self-esteem, exchanging them for a life-preserver. They don't call it that for nothing, I thought. My wildly beating heart made my hands tremor.

Adrift in the lake, just me and a ski, I thrashed about in an effort to insert my left foot into the boot. All the while the rope circled like a predatory shark, alerted by the scent of struggle. Finally, I grabbed the handle, someone yelled, "Get ready," and I hollered, "Okay;" meaning, okay, I'm getting ready.

The rope tightened, jerked, and spun me on my axis. My arms loosened from their sockets and the handle sprang from my grip, taking with it three fingernails and my one scrap of dignity.

When the boat came back around, my husband fussed, "I said get ready."

A retort got lodged in a gurgle.

The second go, I got situated, gave the thumbs up, and immediately submerged under a rush of 30 mph water. Resurfacing, my head felt like someone shoved hot knives into my sinuses and sadistically turned them.

My beloved, unknowingly motivational, taunted, "You don't have it in you anymore, do ya?"

Third attempt. I popped up ... but my bathing suit didn't. It needed a not-so-mild adjustment; which meant I had to let go of the rope with one hand. While I considered the ramifications, a peep show proceeded behind my back. Needless to say, I got everything straightened out in the end.

Eventually, I relaxed, leaned back and tried a few cuts, until I swung like a pendulum, kicking up spray and breathing as if I'd smoked three packs of Marlboro "Reds." Winded, I pointed toward home.

On the approach, I raised a triumphant hand to my audience. Just as I completed the elbow-elbow portion of the beauty queen wave - SWOOSH - I got my pipes cleaned. My bathing suit required another not-so-mild adjustment.

I floated limply, mortified.

None of the gawkers on the dock took a turn, as promised. They clung to their pride like a leaky life raft.

My solace: I might have my bathing suit twisted around my axis, but at least I'm not too old for summer.

Web posted on Thursday, August 17, 2006

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