My middle school had an indoor swimming pool. Two reasons why this was bad, first off it meant I had to see other naked guys. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just that in middle school you can’t help but look and compare. Everybody has varying degrees of body hair. We look ridiculous.
The second reason was swim class. What a mess. The kids that could swim had the time of their life. They also had swim goggles. I was not as fortunate. I could swim alright if my eyes were closed, but I couldn’t (wouldn’t?) open them under water.
Now enter the “Rubber Brick”. Seriously this was a brick coated in thick rubber and used to torture young middle school kids like me. The teacher would throw the brick in the deep end of the pool while each student took turns diving after it.
I have no idea why we did this. It’s obviously very useful in real life. I can’t tell you how many times since I’ve swum to the bottom of a pool and back up.
I remember, I was clinging to the edge of the pool putting off this torture as long as I could. I had no idea how this was going to work. “If I can’t open my eyes underwater, I can’t see the brick. If I can’t see the brick, I can’t get it.”
Kid after kid, dive after dive, one after another like missiles, they dove down and came up with rubber gold. Each time, it was getting closer to my turn. I tried convincing my buddy, John (resident swim star), to loan me his goggles. John, being an ass, kept refusing.
Then, in slow motion (because it’s my story and I can do that), the rubber brick was launched into the pool. The teacher blew the whistle and called my name.
I remember thinking if I jump after it now, I can dive out with my arms extended, and it will just hit me. I release my hand from the side of the pool, head toward the most embarrassing moment of my life, and as luck would have it, the bell rings.
Shock! Relief! A wink! Was that a wink? Yes, it was…from the teacher.
She let me off, she knew.
We want all our stories to end with success and accomplishment, but sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they just sink. The good news is those failures build your character…one brick at a time.