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Lisa K. Friedman Headshot

Goggle Art

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I am so inspired! I was watching the U.S. Olympic team trials in swimming and stumbled upon a sudden determination to swim. Look at those bodies! The taut arms! The strong legs! In the water they undulated like dolphins; on deck, their muscles practically sparked. I tossed the last few Fritos into my mouth and said aloud: "I am going to become a swimmer."

Before starting the new regimen, I would need the proper swimming attire. The swimsuits worn by the Olympic athletes were... well... unlikely to flatter my body type. Instead, I bought a Lycra Speedo with vertical panels designed to slim and cinch although, in the carnival mirror inside the dressing room, they did neither. Maybe they have to be wet. I scowled at my oddly shaped and bulging reflection. Do I dare wear this in public? I looked like a four-pound sausage stuffed into a two-pound casing.

I bought swim goggles, tinted and expertly crafted to distort even the most specific image to a hazy blur. Just as my new puppy thinks he's invisible when his head is tucked underneath the upholstery skirt of the couch, goggles might soften my ridiculous appearance or, better still, obliterate it completely from the rest of the be-goggled swimmers at the pool. I bought two swim caps because that's how the athletes on television wear them, so it must be important.

Hours of additional research revealed an assortment of critical items pertaining to hair. I didn't know this when I began my investigation into swimming, but hair is a very big issue. To protect my hair, I'd need priming spray, which I plan to get just as soon as I figure out what it is, and a leave-in conditioner to coat my hair under the double swim caps. After swimming, a quick spurt of tomato juice into the hair washes out the coppery elements from the pool water and should be followed by a de-mineralizing shampoo. For people like me, who dislike the smell of tomato juice, vinegar can be substituted. As if vinegar is easier on the olfactories. Aspirin dissolved in water makes a handy rinse as well, but that's only if your hair is really green. Green hair?

Tomato juice, conditioner, priming spray, de-mineralizing shampoo, aspirin, vinegar? What sort of shopping list was this? I added cucumbers and red onion as a fallback. If the hair thing didn't work out, I could at least scavenge a few of the ingredients and make gazpacho.

This must be how Dr. Jekyll felt, I thought, before accidentally turning himself into Mr. Hyde. In an instant, I was disenchanted with the idea of swimming. There was so much gear, so much preparation. The very thought of squeezing into that Speedo made my eyeballs throb. Without a second thought, I stuffed the suit and the swim caps away and hung the goggles on the hook that keeps my necklaces from tangling. The goggles looked interesting there, like misshapen baubles on a textured cord. Like wearable art. I might find a use for them after all.

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