Looking back to my childhood in Rock Island, it's hard to believe that we crammed so much activity into the 12 weeks of summer:
Camping in Michigan or Minnesota
Nazarene summer camp
Visiting relatives in Indiana
My birthday excursion
Vacation Bible School
The Denkmann School Carnival
The Pow Wow, the Celtic Festival, and the Beiderbecke Jazz Festival
Summer Enrichment Classes in astronomy, Spanish, archaeology, and music.
And when we got a free moment, swimming lessons.
When you live between two rivers, you learn to swim. I took lessons every summer from 4th grade to 7th grade at the Longview Park Pool.
And the teacher was always a cute teenage boy, tanned and muscular in red Rocky High swim trunks.
Unfortunately, I never got to see them with their swim trunks off, so no glimpses of a penis (the adults called it a shame). We weren't allowed in the bath house (where the showers and lockers were). After the lessons, we had to sit on towels, sopping wet, while one of our mothers drove us home.
It was fun learning to jump into the pool, float on your back, and kick against those floating surfboards. Then the dog paddle, the breast stroke, the back stroke, and the side stroke.
But when we had to jump off the diving board into the deep end and swim to the side of the pool, I balked.
"It's over my head! I'll drown!"
"It's easy," Matt, the hunky teenage teacher, said. "You already know how to swim. This is just in deeper water."
"I'll sink to the bottom and drown!"
I watched from several feet away as my friends, one by one, jumped off the diving board, sank into the bright clear water of the deep end, then rose to the surface and kicked their way across the pool to the side, where Matt was waiting to pull them out.
His muscular arms rippling in the sunlight....I wanted muscular arms around me....
But...no! "It's over my head!"
Matt put a strong hand on my shoulder. "Tell you what, Boomer. I'll get into the water with you. That way if anything goes wrong, I can carry you to the side."
Carry me? "You promise?"
"Sure. And even if you do drown, I know mouth-to-mouth resuscitation."
I didn't know what that meant, but I liked the mouth-to-mouth part. I climbed onto the diving board. It felt hot in the sun, and a little wobbly. Matt, floating upright in the water, motioned me in. He was smiling.
With a gulp I jumped off the board. Cold, bubbly water enveloped me. I couldn't hear, couldn't breathe. The surface was miles away. How could I ever get up again? It was over my head!
Springing to the surface, I yelled "Help!"
Instantly Matt had his arm around me, and with two kicks had us on the side of the pool. He lifted us up. I felt a surge of joy as I clung to his chest, my hands clutching his thick hard shoulders.
I wrapped my legs around him. Our swimtrunks pressed together. I felt the thick mass of his shame beneath.
"See? That wasn't so bad," Matt said, disentangling me. "It was actually kind of groovy, wasn't it?"
Flushed with a weird, tingly excitement, I nodded. "Are you going to do mouth-to-mouth resuction?"
He laughed. "Not this time, buddy. You're fine."
I wouldn't figure "it" for years, but in retrospect, that was a major coming out moment.