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Monday, March 15, 2004

The Pond 

Sister-in-Law #1 and Spouse have a lot of land; however, some of this land borders a swamp, and is perpetually wet and boggy, and therefore not useful for much of anything. So, Spouse of Sister-in-Law #1 decides to dig a pond, and he proceeds to rent a backhoe and do just that.

After several months of digging, pond has three levels: Water, original ground level, and upper level where dirt from what is now pond has been deposited. Pond is also surrounded by a fringe of mud, due to water being low, due to lack of recent rain.

Since Spouse of S-i-L #1 has not yet stocked pond with fish, kinfolk congregate on Sunday afternoons for the purpose of recreation. Pond is approximately four or three feet deep near shore, to as much as twelve or ten feet deep near center. Pond likewise contains "stumpholes" - deeper parts created where the tap roots of pine trees were extracted. Even so, kids are permitted to splash around in pond, since progeny of S-i-L #1 and Spouse-of-Same are familiar with location of stumpholes.

Wife, Daughter and I are visiting one Sunday afternoon. Daughter and Niece of Wife are splashing gleefully in pond while Wife, S-i-L #1 and I are strolling along on upper level of shore. Wife and S-i-L #1 are yakking away, and I am attempting to distract myself by keeping an eyeball on Daughter and Niece of Wife. Daughter and Niece of Wife are navigating toward shore. As usual, Daughter is swivelling noggin in every direction except the direction in which she is proceeding; therefore, when Niece of Wife hangs a sharp starboard (presumably to avoid a stumphole), Daughter does not notice, and so maintains current heading. Daughter, like me, cannot swim. Daughter suddenly vanishes beneath surface of pond!

I take off running toward pond! Daughter pops back up, like a cork, but then goes down again. By now I have leapt from top tier of shore to middle tier, while simultaneously ripping off my shirt and sunglasses (much like Clark Kent changing to Superman). Although she goes under a second time, Cork...er, Daughter... pops back up, but she starts down for the third time. I have always been told that if someone goes under for the third time, it will be several days before they resurface, and by that time they will likely be thoroughly drowned. Therefore, I panic! I reach the edge of level two and launch myself into a mighty dive toward the pond.

Now, this is a rather impressive dive, if I do say so my own self. I have weighed around 300 pounds (give or take 20 either way) for most of my adult life. As a result, I have unusually powerful legs. And so, taking into consideration that I believe Daughter to be drowning, and that I have copious amounts of adrenalin (and bourbon) coursing through my veins, you may understand why this is not your average, everyday dive into a pond.

I leave the shore of S-i-L #1's pond at approximately the same velocity as the space shuttle leaves Cape Canaveral. The good news is that Daughter does not go down for the third time; Daughter, like Wife, has been blessed since birth with an above-average capacity for clumsiness. Rather than encountering a stumphole, Daughter has simply managed to entangle her two left feet and trip herself, which is why she went down the first time. Her first attempt at regaining her footing was in vain, so she went down again. Daughter, never one to know when to quit, then managed to slip in the mud on the bottom of the pond, although she did not go under the water for a third time. Of course, I do not know this at the time, and it would not have mattered anyway, as I am now hurtling through the air above the pond, in a semi-horizontal position, like a missle with a malfunctioning gyroscope.

As I pass above Daughter, who is now standing upright in water about chest deep, Daughter grins and waves at me (Note to Self: If you survive, drown Daughter personally). However, although relieved that Daughter is not drowning (at least not yet), I now realize that I myownself am in trouble. If I splash down in the center of the pond, I will likely drown, since I cannot swim. I consider placing head between legs for purpose of kissing ass goodbye, but then realize that I might actually traverse entire pond and land in mud on opposite shore (sort of like Columbus when he left Spain). Of course, it also occurs to me that, at my current velocity, my encounter with opposing shore may more closely resemble a bug's encounter with a windshield.

Now, you must understand that when you are full of adrenalin (and bourbon), time and events sometime seem distorted. Such was the case in this instance.

While I had indeed launched myself mightily into the atmosphere, I had not actually flown across the pond. In fact, I had crashed into the mud just below the point from which I had launched myself; I had not even reached the water! As I pried myself from the mud, which now sported an imprint of my body, mingled with blood from my nose and a few brain cells which had squirted out of my ears on impact, I discovered not only Daughter and Niece-of-Wife, but also Wife and Sister-in-Law #1, laughing hysterically.

(Note to Self: Drown Wife and Sister-in-Law #1 also.)