Monday, November 15, 2010

The Seven Near-Death Experiences of Zek J Evets: Pt. 1

I was four years-old at the time, and could not swim to save my life.

Back then my family was doing pretty well. Dad had a nice law business, and Mom's cancer was in remish. My kindergarten was this nice little private institute with a pony-ranch next door for us to take riding lessons, and a huge playground to play Capture the Flag on.

But every Tuesday and Thursday were swim-lesson days.

Oh, how I dreaded them.

See, my skinny-ass couldn't swim to catch a free check worth a million dollars. Not even a doggy-paddle. I was like a kid with Down Syndrome trying to do advanced mathematics. Just looked bad.

But we all had to go. It was a requirement, and my Mom -- being the single most frightening person I can think of when I didn't do what she said -- insisted on it. No notes, no excuses.

So I learned to swim. But not really.

I learned how to flail around in floaties like a beaching whale. An anorexic whale.

Tried to fight it though. Really did. My attempts at avoiding the water were legendary, if I do say so myself. I was a master of aquatic avoidance, like a cat, only with more class.

"My stomach hurts."
"I have a cramp."
"I need to go potty."
"I need to go poopy."
"Oops, I think I just did."

So many swim-instructors got fed up trying to teach me that eventually they just let me dangle my feet in water with floaties, a life-preserver and snorkel mask by the shallow-end because without all that gear I would scream like a banshee if I came more than a five foot proximity to the pool.

(It was hilarious then, and now.)

But then the day came for our swim-test. The instructors had been given strict requirements that if we hadn't learned how to swim, it was not only their ass, but the whole program's. (I know this because my Mom told me when I got older.) It was put up or shut up, and these peeps weren't going to lose their jobs over some atatiophobic kindergartners.

So unbeknowest to us the plan was to line us all up in floaties along the pool and... throw us into the deep end to either drown float or swim.

(I know, sounds like something right out of a manual about what not to do, but that's child-supervision in the 90's for ya.)

When we were all lined up, and I started seeing my classmates being tossed into the 9-foot zone, a sudden unquenchable fear permeated my tiny frame. I started shaking. Hell, I nearly pissed in my swim-trunks but I'd already gone beforehand. (Cursed myself for being so hasty. Could have escaped in the bathroom!)

I snuck to the very back of the line, behind one of the tall girls in class. At that age I was small enough to fit in a travel-size suitcase, so behind her I was practically invisible except for my orange floaties.

The line moved quickly though, as kid after kid was flung like a rolled-up newspaper into the chlorinated death-trap of a pool. Even the bigger kids were making it a goodly distance. I began to wonder how far I'd go if they threw me. Maybe I'd just sail over the pool and into the parking lot? If survived, maybe I could escape! How far would I get on foot? What about my shoes? What about my Ninja Turtles backpack?

Finally the girl in front of me had her turn. As I watcher her ginormous frame sail off to the 7-foot spot, I knew it was too late. There was no escape. Nobody was coming to save me from becoming a human football. The swim-instructor looked at me like an executioner and grabbed me with one arm into a bridal carry.

It was at that point that I did the last thing I could think of. I screamed.

And this wasn't just a normal scream. This wasn't a loud whine or fake-crying. This was some 4th of July fireworks type noise. I let loose like bloody murder with mucus coming out my nose and tears like rainwater on a car-window. And the noise... oh that noise. I was so loud, my classmates said people could hear me across the block. It was like that moment at the end of The Blair Witch Project when you close-up on the woman's face. Well, combine that with the Darth Vader "noooo!" at the end of Episode III and you've got it.

So what does the motherfucking swim-instructor do? He swings me around in circles like an Olympic discus and I go flying all the way, sailing over the pool, and for about two seconds I just watched the water slowly ripple and then...


I hit the water like a fat-kid on a belly-dive. Just splat. My floaties fell off almost immediately as I thrashed around. Eventually my arms got too weak and I angled wrong or something because suddenly I'm sinking to the bottom. (Must've been my lack of body-fat at that age.) And as I look up to the surface, that bright Southern California sun pours through the water like a tunnel of light. Then I pass out.

When I come to, I can feel someone's lips pressed against mine. As I cough water into their mouth, a swim-instructor, a male swim-instructor makes a disgusted sound and spits into the pool as he gets off me. His attempts at CPR notwithstanding, I don't think I want to be saved like that again, and here's the reason why.

In a semi-circle facing me where all my classmates. They were looking at me, arms-outstretched, fingers pointing at me. And they were laughing.

At first I was confused. Shouldn't people be clapping that I didn't die?

Then I looked down and saw that in my misadventures with drowning, I had apparently lost my swim-trunks. Yep, I was butt-ass nekkid.

Meanwhile my classmates continued pointing at my un-dropped balls and baby dick and laughing.

At that point I grabbed my crotchal area and ran like a coward walked with dignity back to my clothes in the boys locker-room where I got dressed and tried very hard to pretend that nothing happened.

After getting home, when my Mom asked me how swim-lessons went, I decided against telling her about my close brush with death, as that might do more harm than good at this point. Instead, I opted for a generic, "it was fine."

It took me almost ten years to learn how to swim, and even longer till I was comfortable being naked.

Actually, to this day I'm surprised the incident didn't give me some kind of penis-complex-thingy. Guess I was lucky, in more ways than one.

Nowadays though, swimming is easy for me. But if/when I have kid, they're not getting swim-lessons because that shit will fuck you up.

Anyhoo, that's my first near-death experience! Hope ya'll enjoyed the tale, because I've got another coming in about a week. So stay tuned!


9 footnotes:

Anonymous said...

You know I'm going to hold my breath while reading every one of these posts, even though I already know most (all?) of the stories.

Re: the kids

They need swim lessons! I'm a horrible swimmer. (Unless you are going to take them to the beach and teach them yourself...) :-P

Natasha W said...

I can't swim! I just hang by the side of the pool looking cute.

Your story reminds me of why I never tried to learn how to. Just terrifying. And embarrassing.

Lol at the last picture.

Anonymous said...


Isn't that the best? Now, I'm more likely to go to the beach anyway where swimming is optional.

I taught myself to swim, which is probably why I suck at it. But, my elementary backstroke is just slightly subpar (and I consider that a good thing :-P).

Zek J Evets said...

@jasmin: you don't teach kids to swim at the beach! unless you don't want to get them back =P

you take them to the POOL! haha =)

@natasha: you should learn to swim just in case the polar ice-caps keep melting.

@jasmin: you need to go swimming with me one of these times and i'll teach you how to properly swim.

Natasha W said...



Okay, I will some day! I just hate water in my nose and feeling like I might die at any moment. :)

Anonymous said...


With those grabby hands? I doubt it. ;-)

Zek J Evets said...

@jasmin: please... i can cop feelskis and teach a kid with down syndrome how to do the butterfly with a kick-turn-flip AND still have one hand left to eat a kosher beef hot dog with.

Anonymous said...

Touché. :-)

Mira said...

What a story...

People can be cruel sometimes.

I am a good swimmer- my father taught me when I was 6- but I can understand how important it is for a child to learn in a safe environment, with lots of patience.

Luckily, you grew up to be a sane young man...