Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Lifeguard

He was quite unpleasant to look at, his gills contracting and dripping strange lung fluids down his neck and chest. Sometimes the fluid gathered in his whistle and sprayed out onto his face when he blew on it. But he would just wipe the off green muck and keep on staring into the pool. The kids never asked why the lifeguard had gills. They never looked at them either. Pay no attention, mothers told their daughters. Don’t look at his neck, don’t talk about it, fathers told their sons. Just ignore it, lifeguards told other lifeguards. Everyone telling everyone the same thing: if someone has gills, pretend they don’t exist, particularly if it’s a lifeguard. The lifeguard also had 12 toes.

“Why do you have so many toes?” boys would ask.


“I’m here to pick up my child. He’s small, with hair, yellow hair. That’s him. Hey, you’ve got more than 10 toes. Two more than ten. That’s two too many. What’s the deal with that?”

and sometimes



“that’s really gross.”

The lifeguard smiled at all of these questions. “I know, look at what I can do” he would say, wiggling his twelve toes, flexing out his gills. “Wow, that’s amazing. Look Sammy, the lifeguard can move his extra toes.” And some of the Sammys would touch the lifeguards extra toes, but some wouldn’t. “Can you do anything special with them?”
“No, not really.” The lifeguard would say, still smiling and wiggling. “But my sister likes them because there are more nails to paint. I’m supposed to have better balance too, but that I can’t be sure of, because I don’t know of any other kind of balance than my own.” “I see,” the fathers say. “You seem to be standing here just as well as I am,” the lifeguard always willing to continue conversation. “Guess so, come on Sammy.” And that Sammy would say goodbye to another Sammy. Until all Sammys and parents of Sammys were gone, leaving the lifeguard alone at the pool, to sit underwater and wiggle his weird extra two toes.


Blogger CM said...

That's brilliant. That's inspirational. Do more like this and I'll ask you to marry me.

1:04 AM  

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