So, the second week of June is now well underway, and it's bringing back memories of when I was a teenager. No, I wasn't holed up in a one-star Philadelphia motel in between cargoes back then, but I was working on the water, and it was 1989, so that makes it 20 years ago this week.
I had a bad summer, and the trouble started before the summer even started. In April of that year, I mangled my right hand, including but not limited to severing my index and middle fingers at the knuckles. This came about because of my budding hobby as a gearhead, and was the seminal incident in which I learned that gas engines are not meant to run on home-brewed Nitromethane, and, in fact, will literally fly apart from the inside out if you rev 'em up high enough.
Anyhow, it worked out. I had my fingers reattached, and spent the next two months in a cast whilst everything healed up. No problems, and I have almost full use of my nosepickers even today.
So that was April. In June, I was ready to return my job as sternman, or crewman, on a lobster boat. The old-timer who taught me how to fish got the OK from my dad to let me go back on his boat and start working again. This worked out well, as I was able to work the kinks out of my stiff right hand for about a week.
Then one day I stepped into a bight (loop) of rope as it was heading off the back of the boat, and I drowned, which was unpleasant. When I was fished out of the water, out cold, the old timer hung me upside down and pounded my back a few times to beat the water out of my lungs, and get me breathing, breaking some ribs in the process... fair trade. I woke right up. My lungs had seized up, anyhow, and only a little water went in. I had simply passed out.
So, I dodged a bullet, had some bad dreams for a little while (5 years), and moved on. I returned back to fishing before too long. Like the old saying "Born to hang, you'll never drown," I figure that someone was watching over me, and regardless of how I check out, I won't delay the day by hiding under my bed.
And so, here I am, 20 years later. In a way, this is far more poignant than any birthday for me. I think that that day was when I grew up. It was definately the day when I went from being a quiet, serious kid with 'so much potential...' blah blah blah, to the borderline-retarded-acting man I am today who wallows in poop and fart jokes when his wife isn't looking.
One other thing happened because of that day. I learned how to hold my breath under water. I had a lot of fun in later years freaking my friends out by popping under water, and swimming full bore to reappear far away 90 seconds later. I don't think that I could do that today, but back when I was 18, I could swim 4 miles nonstop at a strong pace in the ocean. I can still swim for hours, fat as I am. Maybe the cardio part of the exercise is the problem now, but I'm a lot more buoyant too. Although I've only lost about 15 pounds since Jan 1, and don't feel any different, I do get motivated by the memory of how good going for a long swim used to feel a year after.
Oh, one last thing. I'm funny now, as an adult, about people shoving my head under water when I'm swimming, or doing anything that submurges my face when I'm not expecting it. My initial reaction is an irresistable desire to pick them up by the anus and swing 'em over my head like a lasso.
Funny how that happens.