Hay: The air mattress Olympics

It’s strange how odd things happen when you take a little holiday. We just had a nice few days “vay-cay” where there was some water and sunshine and some large hills pretending to be mountains. It was very relaxing and a lovely way to recharge our batteries. On our phones and iPad. But it was at the pool where things got a little silly.

Our favorite place to stay has an excellent outdoor pool shaped more or less like a giant kidney but without the stones. The water is always an inviting bright blue and more importantly, it’s not the usual ice-cube floating, frigid temperature typical of swimming pools in British Columbia. Before we discovered this cement pond, I was pretty sure there was a provincial bylaw that stated all outdoor swimming pools in B.C. must be no more than three degrees above absolute zero. Anybody brave enough to plunge would always bolt immediately back out of the pool a couple of shades bluer than the water.

But not in our warm, happy pool. And maybe that’s why people get a little weird in it.

First of all, the guy was obviously old enough to know better. He was also obviously out of shape. His abdominal “six pack” was more like a Two-Four – if those 24 beers were stuffed into a spare tire. And, significantly, he was carrying a cheap air mattress when he arrived at the pool. It was flimsy and tiny, and sadly under-inflated. But it was when the dude and his unfortunate floatie flopped into the water with a cannonball crash that things got a little goofy.

The dumpy dummy suddenly commenced to thrashing around in the deep end like a harpooned whale, scaring the children in the pool and causing the adults in the lawn chairs to seriously consider jumping in and rescuing him, but oddly enough, the flailing doofus seemed to alternate between giggling and guffawing. He seemed to be highly amused by the fact he couldn’t seem to get himself onto the semi-floating floatie.

And when he finally did manage to mount the mattress, perching precariously like a hippopotamus on a two-by-four, he actually raised his arms skyward in triumph to some imagined throngs of applauding spectators. He even shouted “Ta da!!” It gets worse.

This guy then announced to his embarrassed family nearby that he was “going to practice his routine” for the “Air Mattress Olympics” and then proceeded to thrash around until he had awkwardly rotated himself and the barely-floating hunk of leaking vinyl around in a circle. “The Clockwise Three-Sixty!” he announced happily, once again raising his arms in apparent triumph. By now his family is pretending they didn’t know this moron.

Giggling like a demented school girl, the guy didn’t stop there.

“And now,” he said proudly, “The Counter One-Eighty!” and he thrashes around the other way. Half way around this time. Arms in the air. “A 9.5 from the German judge!” By this time his family is suddenly busy gathering up their towels.

And just as the dork was completing his “Side-to-Side High Speed Pool Push” cruising precariously prone back and forth on a slowly sinking flotation device, spitting and giggling and happily thanking the imaginary Olympic spectators, one of the ladies sitting trying to read a book by the pool shook her head in pity, turned to Better Half and Rotten Kids as they were leaving, and said: “Wow. They never grow up, do they?”

I just giggled again and hung onto the wobbly air mattress a little harder. After all, they hadn’t even seen my “Forward Sitting Dismount” yet.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer writer and filmmaker.

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