I am Esther Williams.
My bangle bracelets seize the sun, bounce it to your black and white television in Technicolor.
Notice the sheen of chlorine in my hair causing ripple effect like a flat rock tossed on smooth glass.
Ponds are not for me – scaly fish, water mollusks waiting beneath docks.
Give me a pretty girl pool, smell of chemicals promising clean. I will dance on the water’s mirror.
Dive deep. Join me. We are all synchronized. Water is forgiveness in the shallow end of day.
I am a swimmer. Have been since I was five-years-old. Growing up, Mom took us swimming every day during every summer until high school. We swam at Long Lake, Black Lake, Capitol Lake, and if the weather was not nice, we swam at the indoor high school pool.
There was a teenage lifeguard named Deanne, who took me under her wing and home for dinner one day. I met her mom and sister. No dad. We ate in the living room on TV trays and talked about Desi Arnaz, Jr. and Liza Minnelli.
Deanne told me I was such a good swimmer I should sign up for synchronized swimming. I agreed, figuring it was my ticket to becoming a movie star like Esther Williams. I did not want to marry Fernando Lamas, but I did want to share my life with Desi Arnaz, Jr.
My days of synchronized swimming are foggy as steam erping from the locker room showers. I had a fancy, rubber bathing cap covered with colorful flowers. My instructor, Mrs. MacDonald, gave her daughter “T” all her attention. I also recall how my butt kept floating up when it should have been executing a fancy mermaidish move under the water’s surface. Years later, I did join the high school swim team (Go Ramfish). My event was the breaststroke (just like Esther).
The best thing about the being a member of the girl’s swim team was the BOYS swim team. You had to make sure to look the boys in the eye and not the Speedo. I remember the green tinge in Bill Petty’s blond hair, making it look like a shiny penny.
I never became a swimming/beauty/movie star like Esther, but I still feel that freedom when I’m in the water that anything is possible. And I’m still ready for my close-up.