Monday, July 21, 2008

A dip..

(I initially submitted this as an article.
After the editor read it she called me back. "It's more like a blog" she complained.
I took her advise and posted it.

Being Nigerian there are very few things in life that I am afraid off.
I am for instance unimpressed with Mosquitoes. I don’t even flinch when they bite me. Having been bitten all my life I no longer pause to yell my outrage whenever these unwanted visitors stop by. Gone are the days when mosquito bites used to leave me looking like a pimple advert. These days whenever a mosquito bites me at night it usually has to go to the dentist the next morning to fix its broken teeth.
I am equally unfazed with Cockroaches. If I come across one I simply turn around and walk the other way. If the cockroach is stupid enough to come scuttling after me (this happens every now and then) I proceed to plan B—An intricate move which involves a flying shoe and a very flattened, very dead cockroach.
But despite my invulnerability as a Nigerian there is one thing I am still terrified about.

Well swimming to be exact.
I can’t swim. It is one of those things that I keep promising myself I have to learn. Being Nigerian has taught me caution. You never know. One day I might be trapped in the bathroom with a shower that refuses to go off. Then what would I do?
Swimming, I realized was one of those important things that people never got around to learning. It was a delightful form of exercise for those wishing to lose calories and a perfectly convenient means for irregular transportation. Take the Mexicans who swim into America for instance.
It was quite clear to me. One day I would have to stop procrastinating and actually get around to swimming.

I reached that point last week.
As I celebrated another birthday I decided to do something positive with my new year.
I was going to learn how to swim.
It was surprising how many centers there were in Port Harcourt for beginner swimmers. After inquiries I settled on one which my friend Jeff had recommended. Jeff weighed roughly 120kg. Every time he moved some Asian country suffered an earthquake. And yet whenever I was with him at the pool he always amazed me with the ease with which he moved through the water. He was like a clumsy bungling penguin which transformed into an aquatic marvel once it hit the water. If anyone could teach Jeff how to swim I decided then he must be very good.
So I settled on Jeff’s trainer.

I turned up at the pool the next day.
I was unsure what exactly one wore to swimming lessons. Would I need swimming trunks or would I be given one of those inflatable arm bands. Jeff didn’t help matters much. Shortly before I left he hung a bright Red “L” around my neck.
Just so other swimmers don’t bump into you ,he said.

I arrived at the pool with an excited air. Today I was going to get my license as a swimmer. I wasn’t really worried. There was probably nothing to swim. Just jump into the water , kick your legs, swing your arms and presto, you were swimming.
My swimming instructor walked up to me as I approached.
“You must be Mr. Thrisxtyereix.” He suggested.
“No. That’s my father. “ I said with a grin. “ Just call me Carl.”
He nodded and gave me a serious stare. He ran his eyes over my body. I was suddenly conscious that unlike him my body was not hard and riddled with delightfully placed muscles. He was lean as a Shark and I was …well…let’s just say I wasn’t shark material.
IN front of us a little boy was swimming circles in the water. He couldn’t have been more than five years old. I watched his act with amusement.
“Your son?” I asked my instructor.
He flinched like I had called him a cockroach.
“No. He is not. I have daughters!”
He said this with pride. Like there was something wrong with having sons. I made a mental note to ask my mum about this reaction when next I visited her.
“When do we start? “ I asked excitedly. I took of my shirt quickly and dropped next to my bag which in turn was lying on the Learner L.
He looked at me with a smile.
“We may begin now if you’re ready.”
I laughed in amusement, stretching my hands to the sky. The sun felt warm on my bare back.
“Ready?” I scoffed “I’m a Nigerian. I was born ready.”
And with a running leap I dived into the pool.

Quick lesson.
For those of you who are yet to visit the pool there are things you must know. Most pools have shallow ends and deep ends. The shallow end are designed for people who can’t swim and yet insist on jumping into the pool. Perhaps for the sake of a picture .The deep end are for the professionals who are so skilled they can make coffee underwater if they decided too. Yet still, there are other pools that have shallow ends, deep ends and then very very deep ends.
I didn’t know all this. If I did I didn’t suspect. There was a five year old boy swimming already. Nobody warned me.
The instructor tried to shout a warning as I jumped in but I didn’t quite hear him. All I heard was a shouted “No .Don’t….” and then I was in the water.

I didn’t panic for the first 2 seconds. The force of the impact caught me by surprise but I recovered quickly. I kicked my legs in the water. I had read books with instructions. If I kicked with the right momentum I would move forward. It didn’t work out that way. Instead of a burst into sunlight I remained in my water prison. I noticed quickly that I was sinking instead of rising. It didn’t make any sense. Opening my eyes I could see two baby legs hanging above me. My lungs were screaming their alarm. I had been in water for only 2 seconds and suddenly I realized was in trouble.
And then I panicked.
I opened my mouth to scream for help.
I was going to either shout Help to the side or Jesus to the heavens. I did neither. I managed to open my mouth and succeeded in tasting my first mouthful of pool water.
It didn’t taste like sprite.
Water rushed into my mouth flushing out whatever self control I had left. I thrashed about in the water madly. My eyes were bulging out with alarm. I must have looked ridiculous. If a penguin swarm by it would probably conclude I was some confused seahorse. I had fought in the water for another five seconds when suddenly my head broke the surface into the warm sunlight.
I inhaled deeply as I popped out. A sharp pain warned me that maybe I was overexerting myself. I looked around quickly for my instructor. He no doubt was on his way to save me.
I found him still standing on the side of the pool. He was looking at me with a puzzled frown.
“What are you doing? “ I gasped out. “I’m drowning you idiot.”
Then I sunk back in again.
My arms went crazy .They flayed madly in the water. Almost as if they were trying to run away and leave me to drown. I thrashed about in the pool for another 3 seconds before bobbing back to the surface. Frothy foam was all around me. I could feel a dull ache in my arms slowly growing. I wouldn’t be able to fight any longer.
The swimming instructor was still standing at the side when I popped out. Beside him the five year old boy was watching with concern. I had probably scared him out of the water with my swimming antics. I splashed wildly around me. Trying to stay afloat. If I wasn’t so busy trying to stay alive I would have been furious with the instructor. Was this how he trained his students?
I wondered if there were any bodies at the bottom of the pool. People that had failed his course.
Despite my heroics I was losing the battle. I couldn’t fight anymore. In another second I was going to go down again and this time I wasn’t sure I could make it back up again.
“Help me.” I gasped to the instructor. “Please.”
The instructor shook his head at me and sighed.
“Stop being silly and just stand in the water.”
His instructions took a while to register. I struggled for a moment before deciding to do what he said. I let my sink and then stood up.
My head burst into the warm sunlight.

It turned out I had dived into the shallow ending. Standing, the water was no more than 4 feet high. More than enough for me to breathe. I stood in the pool, hunched against my knee gasping for breath.
The instructor and the little boy watched me perplexed.
“ I almost drowned.” I pointed out.
“ In 4 feet of water? You’re six feet!” The instructor snapped.
Beside him the little boy laughed at me. I glared at him angrily. Maybe this was why little girls were better than boys. A little girl would have crying for me.
They watched me patiently until I stopped panting. Then slowly I made my way to the side and climbed out of the pool. Water dripped of me as I slowly made my way to my bags.
“Where are you going to?” The instructor asked. “We’re about to begin your lesson.”
I had almost ended my life there and I told him as much.
He laughed at me. “No one drowns in the shallow end. You just panicked. We’ll have to work on that.”
I ignored him and sat down. He was joking if he thought I was going back into the water. I was Nigerian not stupid.
“Oh come on.” He urged with a smile.
“Once beaten. Twice I shy” I said. I picked up the learners L and rehung it around my neck. I didn’t mind that everyone knew I couldn’t swim. I had survived almost drowning. Come Sunday I had a testimony to tell.
“Practice makes perfect” He crooned.
I closed my eyes and enjoyed the afternoon.
He might have had a point but it was flawed.
Practice might make perfect, but nobody's perfect, so why practice?


UndaCovaSista said...

Don't ask how i do it carl...i just do!

Shubby Doo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
QMoney said...

ROTFLMAO ooooooh infact ERPM(Erin fe pa mi).
u crack me up to bits,i was having a funny day but am copying and pasting ur story to all.....................God.
pele but f**** up,u no even try at all...

Iwalewa McDaniels said...

this was funny...
don't be so sure that a girl wld cried for u cos this was just too funny...

ayomorocco said...

This had me in stitches. I actually choked on my shepherd's pie while reading this at my desk. I could feel the lamb going one way and the mash another. You should consider a career in comedy writing. Kudos!

bumight said...

this isnt fair! when i came here, u took the post down (i guess to edit it) now i'm back and i'm 6th? *sulks*

this actually reminds me of my foray with swimming. the hardest part for me was learning how to stay afloat, and i think its because i had to do it in the deep end!
I can swim now, but i have the deep end phobia, I only swim out of the deep end!
you want private lessons?

Ms Sula said...

You made me spit my food out... You need to stop!!

That was too funny...

Drowning in the shallow end? Classic

Just thank God you didn't have the brilliant idea to invite Spanish Chica along...

Hahahaha... I am still laughing!

Afrobabe said...

LMAO...drowning at the shallow end??? come on Carlang, you can do better...

I can imagine all the flaying in the shallow end and the lil boy laughing...

Naija Idol said...

LMAO. how can u drown in the shallow end??? that was too funny.

mizchif said...

You managed to crack me up as usual!
Na wa for u sha...... how u go enter shallow end dey drown ehn?

shalewa said...

if a little girl cried for u,it wud be becuz u had her in stitches.had a similar experience in a training skul.i had a life jacket but didn't listen when given instructions on its use.when i jumped in the water,the life jacket floated while i drowned slowly.thank god for rescue team.i'm still scared of learning to swim.but u,6 feet,drown in 4 feet?now,thats a mystery!lol
"I picked up the learners L and rehung it around my neck. I didn’t mind that everyone knew I couldn’t swim"

QMoney said...

yeeeeeeeeeeepa,carlang u don koba me oh!!u should have warned me about copyright and stuff.
efpm has koba'd me ooh!
Internet na craze ooooh!!

Smaragd said...

LMAO as usual.


while people dont drown in the shallow end, some have been known to hit their heads on the pool bottom, cuz they miscalculated the depth and dived!

so it's really a testimony jare.

why do i have a smile on my face from reading this? *wink*

Ebony_beauty said...

lol i feel ur pain, caz i just started learning how to swim last week.. i was sha disgraced by a little girl... lol but drowing in the shallow end.. too funny

NigerianDramaQueen said...

Drowning in the shallow end! ROTFLMAO
That is exactly why you need to practice!
So I have to take either a swimming proficiency test or a class before the year runs out, or I dont get my degree...4 years, a long ass thesis-and now they want me to swim.

Shubby Doo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shubby Doo said...

Lmao...i'm sure it was not that bad...swimming is worth learning...

Put 'once bitten 2ice shy' out of mind jo! By your admission being bitten doesn't faze u :)...

try it again & again...3rd time's a charm...(or is it everything happens in 3s)

fantasy queen said...

OMG your lifes turning into one sitcom. nice.
but who am i to laugh?
i cant swim either, i'm satisfied with prancing about with whatever flattering bikini i have, get a little wet standing at the edge of the shallow end of the pool, then come out pick up my towel and sigh when i get a phone call 'oh i'm out swimming,came out for a little dip'

ablackjamesbond said...

ROTFLMAO...OMG! U r crayzee!!

Enjoyed reading this!

Chari said...

and i thot i was the only landlubber

Naapali said...

Thank you for snorting out the last few specks of Mexican dust onto my computer screen. It has been an emotionally heavy week for me and reading you was just the medicine to help cure that.

Bro, you should include this in your collection of short stories about life in Nigeria and start seeking a publisher. Other stories to include are your jogging experience, any story with Stolich but especially the one about the power outage and the butterfly undergarment.

I should also thank the editor that told you it read like a blog.

One suggestion regarding this post would have been for you to find a way to end it at this point: "I let my sink and then stood up.
My head burst into the warm sunlight."

Mz. Dee said...

I went swimmin yesterday.. tried to teach sum1 hw to swim.. gave up after she pracitin arm movements in the air..
sorry o!
were did u go to swim?
(tell me? pretty plz!)

Mz. Dee said...

argh my bad..gave up after practicing**

onydchic said...

LOl. he's done it again.

Jaja said...

I don't even know what to call you!

Well, so have you got the swimming license yet?
And the mosquitoes you are unfazed about have kept me bedridden for the last week.

finally, is your mum a shrink? why should she be able to explain the instructors " I have daughters!"?


You are way too funny. Nice one.

tobenna said...

I swear, you are a mad man.

Lighty 'neferet' Kopearl said...

ROFLMAO.... OHHH gosh. my oh my. i was thinking the instructor much be on crack to watch u drown like that. now we both know who was on crack.

forget about a girl crying. i would av laffed so hard and fallen in the pool after loosing balance laffing.

lol. oh my. u're so unbelievable. ha ha ha.

next time dear wear a float.
on both arms. and a ring on ur waist. we dont want u drowning on the pool steps.
lol! haaa.

geishasong said...

hey- geisha's moved!
click to find me :)

NigerianDramaQueen said...

No, I didn't drown.

NigerianDramaQueen said...

PS: Im reading an article in Genevieve Magazine called "ATM Shockers". The writing style is remarkably similar to yours, and the writers name is...wait for it
You didn't by any chance write it did you?

Afrobabe said...

Hi love,

sorry but i haven't been invited to Little Miss me's blog either...

N.I.M.M.O said...

How do you keep doing this? You had me in stictches.

'I am Nigerian. I was born ready'

I liked that.

theicequeen said...

lmaolmaolmaooooooooo!! you had me from the moment you declared you were now unimpressed by mosquioes..LMAO!! this entire post, from beignning to end, had me in stitches!

lmao @ "If a penguin swarm by it would probably conclude I was some confused seahorse."..dang!

i believe i've said this before, but i cannot over emphasise head over heels in lurve with the way you write, it reads so beautifully, like i can hear you talking, and it's so witty and lovely...youre probably lucky youre no where me or i would have squashed you with hugs,and deafened you with shrieks of hapiness....

theicequeen said...

wait joh, i had to come back.."i am Nigerian, not Stupid..."lmaooo! and you sef, so you decided that you had lived enough years abi? what with the recent birthday, and you decided death by drowning should be the way to go..and in 4 feet of water for added dazzle *shakes head* you try ohhh!

theicequeen said...

grr! so now i feel like a pest, because, frankly, three comments in a row is pushing the limits of manners..but i had to return, see, i was re-reading the post out loud to my mom, when i saw the "Carl is in PH" part that i didn't see before...really? when did you start being a PH person? it must be recent because i was convinced beyond a doubt that you were a logos person...and like curious to know where you swam!..or you want to send us on a hunt to track down delightfully muscled swimming instructors??

Carlang said...

All hail the mighty U.
Always first on the scene.
How she does it....


Feel free to copy it.
Glad i made your hour.

@Iwalewa Mcdaniels:
First time on my Blog.
Glad i got you to smile.

Dont encourage me.
I'm in enough trouble just blogging as it is!

You're right.
I apologize.
I did take down the post after an hour because i wasn't sure if the editor would eventually use it.
Once i confirmed it wouldn't be used i put it back up.
Consider yourself third..

@Ms Sula:
You spat out your food?
It wasn't stew was it?
Glad i made you laugh.

You dont have the keys to Little Miss Me's kingdom.
Oh my God.
She's been kidnapped.

Okay i give up.
If you cant get her no one can.

You in a bikini..
How do i see that?

@ Naijaidol:
Celebrity visits..

I be mugu.
I know.
Glad you liked the post.
How body now?
Stay away from water!!!

Carlang said...

@ Shalewa:

You're scared of swimming?
Oh come on.
There's nothing to it.
Kick and scream.

Stay away from water!!

How can.
Wait make I call them.
You still dey jail?

WHy do you have a smile?
Because you're amused.
Because you;re having a wonderful day.
Because you happen to be the lovely girl with the gorgeous bikini clad figure who turned up at the swimming pool minutes after?

Please say it;s the last!

@Ebony Beauty:
Drowning isnt very funny.
Water gets in your mouth!!

Yes I wrote the alarming article you found in Genevive.
It's my very first published Article incidentally.
Seriously. You made me from my writing and not the name?
I always felt the name Carlang would come to haunt me.
Done the required swimming exercise yet?
Did you have an Olympian trainer as well?

Swimming is worth learning she says.
I take it you can swim then.
Thanks for the encouragement.
I'm practicing how to swim.
Everyday i drink a cup of water..

God i love you right now.
That Gorgeous body in a bikini.
Ah.. Here comes the fantasy again.
So when next do you try not to swim.
The next bloggers spring break?

Thanks man.
Really appreciate it.
Loved your last post.

Carlang said...

@ CHari:
My sympathies.
You were mistaken.
There are infact two of us!!

You do my ego much good.
Still i dont think my stories are good enough to be branded beneath the covers of a published book.
Thanks for the compliment though.

Emotionally heavy week?
I hope everything;s better.
What;s all this about MExican Dust.
Were;nt you supposed to save that for me?

Aw shucks.
I;m not sure if i can tell you.
But wait..
You not only know how to swim you also give lessons..
Perhaps i might reconsider..

I've done it again?
What have I done?

@ Jaja:
Name calling?
What did I do this time?

My mum gave birth to two sons and two daughtgers.
I hpe she would be able to explain his disgust for sons.
She is twice qualified you see..

Thanks dear.

You must know me.
Only someone who has met me would realize that beneath my facade of Madeness lies absolute madness....

Thanks dear.
I'll take your advise to heart.
Wear a float on both arms.
A ring around my waist.
Avoid slipping on the stairs.
Wait! It's not on the instructions.Do i have to wear swimming shorts?

And then he clicked...

Darn it.
You didnt drown!!

Thanks dude.
But it's true isn't it?

@ Theicequeen:
I think you;re a pretty cool writer yourself so i'm extremlely honored that you admire my insane scribbles.
On the contrary , squashing hugs and shrieks of happiness sounds very nice.
We should do it.

@ The icequeen:
Three comments.
You know what they say.
Third times the charm.
Consider me charmed....

NigerianDramaQueen said...

I could smell you all over the article before I even got to your name, seriously. The structure and humor was undeniably yours.
When you confirmed it was yours, I went back to read it again, and loved it even more.
As always, you were able to write about life in Nigeria, with subtle depth and refreshing humor. CONGRATULATIONS!!! Can't wait to see what you follow it up with.I want a heads up on the next one, okay?!
Incidently, I just got my first published pieces this year: An article and a poem as well.
You know whats weird? You got your article published in Women's magazine, and I got mine published in Men's Magazine!Ha.
Okay, this was supposed to be a comment, not a letter...
PS: Good luck getting your ransom money back. Unless you speak Romanian/Broken French, it might be a chore:-)

guerreiranigeriana said...

...rotflmao!!! this are not serious at all!!! really almost drowned in the shallow end and then gave up?...unacceptable...omo, you better go back and learn o!!!...even me sef, i can swim...;)

...i really enjoyed reading this though...and if i had been the small girl, i would most certainly not cried...i would have laughed so hysterically, falling into the pool...

Jasmine said...

hei why lock me outa 'this' world?didnt u know u needed someone to catch ur victims as u knock em wit ur tales.Good shots,i laughed to 'nasal drippins' readin that a good thing?

Ms. Catwalq said...

I accept...

I don't swim either...I am allergic to death by water

Nice guy said...

mosquitos go to dentists after they bite you...haha. good one..thats true most Nigerians cant swim (including me). this even reminds me of an embarassing moment when i claimed i could swim (i think ill blog about that)


Just checking in on you...

princesa said...

Carl, if my ribs crack from laughing too much, you'll be held responsible o!

I cant begin to imagine how silly you must have felt at the end of it all. Drowning in the shallow end, who ever heard of that?!!!

Queen of My Castle said...

I'm like sooooo late. LOL

This reminds me...I can't swim, either, and how are you going to swim across the Atlantic to get to me if, can't swim? LOL

badderchic said...

been a minute since I been here.

let me go and be done rolling on the floor

Buttercup said...

aww shucks, poor u!

i cant swim either..ok, well, i can with a floater, but i dont think that counts..

u really painted a hilarious

TinTin said...

I haven't laughed so hard in ages!!

miz-cynic said...

this is sooo hilarious! an carlang

uNWrItten* said...

lol lol!!!! omg..this has definitely worn me off swimming..hahaha