yes, you read that right. a mermaid-centric party at our local indoor pool. or, as ruth heard it, a party for mermaids. maybe that’s why she was so adamant about attending.
you see, ruth is actually ariel. the little mermaid. i know. i was surprised when i found out, too. these days, if there is one thing that really annoys her, sends her over the edge, it’s if she’s called by the wrong name. “hey,” she’ll get really close to my face with an outraged and affronted pulling together of the eyebrows, “you keep calling me ruth. i’m ariel!” right. i meant that.
we had some friends over the other day and one conversation led to another and one of them happened to mention this “mermaid bash” off hand that would be occurring the following sunday evening. well, i thought little of it until the friend left, and ruth began her interrogation. when was the mermaid bash? could she go? i dunno, ruth. it might be too expensive, i’ll have to call and see. “NOOOO! can i go? i want to go to the MERMAID BASH!!!” “well, i’ll call them tomorrow to find out about it, okay, ruth?” “ok, but can i go???” “ruth, we’ll see. i’ll call them.” “okay.” sob sob, wimper wimper.
then after she fell asleep, greg: “we have to take her. she really wants to do it.” easy for you to say, i thought, you won’t be the one in the swim suit freezing your ass off chasing after the lady in the mermaid costume with her. special occasions like that are reserved for yours truly.
but she woke up the next morning more adamant than before, the first words from her puffy, crusty face being, “did you call and find out about my mermaid bash?”
what can one do?
on the day of, i wondered if there would be a tiki hut with frozen margaritas or something at least,to take the edge off of a pool full of giddy prepubescent mermaid enthusiasts. on the same token, i wondered if the hot tub would be open…maybe i could just take life easy with the bubble jets going full blast while ruth took herself for a few spins around the lazy river. fat chance.
we walked up to the desk to check in, ruth’s face literally aglow with excitement, only to be greeted by one of the hourly workers who informed that, unfortunately, ariel had been in a car accident. not to worry, the sea princess was ok, but wouldn’t be able to make it tonight and to check our e mail for info on the reschedule. “you are still welcome to swim tonight as well, though.”she said. i looked at ruth, wondering if anything had sunk in, what she was thinking, if she’d be disappointed. but, to tell you the truth, i don’t think that she realized in the first place that ariel was going to be there. ruth, after all, is ariel, so duh. from the get-go, it seems all ruth heard was that this was a party for mermaids. her being a mermaid, felt obligated, honored, to attend.
well, i am happy to report that her enthusiasm didn’t wane one iota like i thought it might, mapping out exit strategies in my head on our way in. in fact, we closed down the pool, were one of the last few stragglers out of the water. and, lemme tell you, it has been years since i’ve spent so long in a pool and, when you’re a kid, you don’t notice the cold because you’re having too much fun (there are a lot of things in life that are overshadowed or glossed over because of the sheer childhood aptitude for fun), but, as an adult, i nearly died of exposure.
ruth had an awesome time. just being a mermaid and networking amongst her kind. she was very at home there. “i’m a mermaid,” she says, “so i have to swim every day.” true. i mostly tried to keep as much of my body in the water as possible at all times to avoid any cold gusts of wind, kept up the mermaid talk with ruth, and in general got splashed in the face by random kids, hit with noodles, run over with kick boards, and, would you guess, even had a swell time myself. boozy drink or no boozy drink. “hey ruth,” i said, “remember before baby brother was born and we used to spend lots of time like this together?” her face got that blank look of young children whenever you ask them about anything other than the present moment. “nevermind,” i said, “ruth, i like swimming with you.” she laughed, like, “of course you do. i’m ariel.”