friday faves - greased watermelon

Our coach lobs the large, heavy ovoid melon into the pool, its ragged zebra stripes dissolving from dark green into avocado or lime like a chameleon or some incognito fruit. It’s greased like a pig, thick swaths of whitish Crisco smeared over its rotund form rendering it nearly impossible to seize.

The orb kerplunks into the water, descending below the glossy surface toward the white sandpapery bottom with its shiny black tiled stripes that bend like a fork into the deep end. For a moment the fruit is suspended before slowly making its way back up. Just then, an attempt to nab it is thwarted by its own greasy sheath and it is propelled, like a tiddlywink, from the suitor's grasp.

Skinny kids with puffed up cheeks and squinting eyes swim like frogs toward the melon, tiny bubbles escaping from their lips. It looks like a dreamscape, like the ones in which I can breathe underwater, can drink the liquid into my lungs as if it were oxygen. Wavy patterns of squiggly light line the pool’s basin and the glowing skin of a hundred gangly arms and legs appear as a sparkling school of giraffe fish. Each of the team’s members remains in hot pursuit of the semi-buoyant fruit.

At long last one of the older swimmers is able to hug the melon to his chest and kick with all his might underwater to the opposing team’s end and plop it into the gutter for a gasping win. Usually, the melon splits open into a watery gush of red, green and specks of black to be eaten by all.

Somehow, like many things since Calvin’s epilepsy diagnosis, this fond memory of playing greased watermelon at my childhood community pool reminds me—oddly—of his seizures. I think of how difficult, if not impossible, the seizures are to get hold of, how just when we think we’ve captured them they get away. I think about the melon’s jagged stripes, like lightening bolts or zigzaggy brain waves. I imagine that melon as if it were an egg or Calvin’s head—like Humpty Dumpty—cracking open due to seizures never to be put back together again.

But it’s only a fleeting comparison and somehow not disturbing to me at all. Must be because these memories of hot blue summer days, gleeful screams, splashing bodies, inspirational cheers and side-splitting laughter bring me happiness. These images spark a warm smile thinking about paddling around amongst all of my friends like a bunch of tadpoles. The memory of these moments can never be ruined, never be taken away by anything, not even Calvin’s goddamn, unrelenting seizures. That’s the beauty and power of the dreams of childhood days, of joyful friendships, sportsmanship and love ... and of a silly, greased-up watermelon drifting through the water like some goofy, slow-mo Mel Brook's asteroid. But it is too bad my little Calvin will never get to do it.

Originally published 02.06.12.

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