June 01 2010

A Swimmer Story

The swimmer has been swimming around for a long time. Well, not really swimming. More like treading water. The water is nice so he won’t complain but often he gets tired of being in the sea. He can see some people on the shoreline happily throwing frisbee. Others fish timelessly on the dock with an unconcerned rod in the water. Sometimes he dreams of a nice comfy raft and umbrella drink. A change of horizon would be nice. But for now he’s in the water. He has to keep swimming.

There’s activity all around. Lots to distract his thoughts. Jet skiers buzz by annoyingly loud. Grinning surfers paddle past airheadedly. Dreamy yachts in the distance drift. Younger swimmers sometimes stop and ask if he’s ok. Not too long ago he saw a bloated dead body with a sea gull standing on it. Everything is finite. He knows. But he keep swimming. His legs are strong. His heart is strong. He kicks his feet and waves his arms like wings.

Sharks dart by now and then. Playful or scary. They bump his legs sometimes. Their skin feels like sandpaper. He knows at any moment one can take a chunk out of him. If he swims in circles for too long he knows they’ll get bored and hungry. They bit him once years ago to make it clear that he was simply a dinner guest in their ocean. A warning bite. The scar has since healed but they can’t be trusted. He is prepared to punch for their eyes first if the time comes.

Now and then clouds rumble in the distance. The sun ducks out to make room for the storm. The water gets and gives chills. The randomized surf karate chops his face. He gets numb and wonders if he should wave for help. The sea heaves. He makes sure not to gulp. Then things calm down again. He rides out the storm until the sun warms his face and he regains strength.

But the time has come to start heading toward something. He will focus on a direction. Any one direction will do. Toward a nearby boat. Toward the dock. Toward the island way off in the distance. Toward the rocks even. Or maybe just straight out to sea to try and hitch a ride in the shipping lanes. He imagines being hiked aboard and traveling off to an exotic land where the shippers hail. He’ll go any place but back to the shore. Not after all this time.

Today is the day he stops treading water and starts swimming toward destination. No longer will he simply admire his own ability to avoid drowning. No more will he let the tides control him to and fro. No longer can he burn days watching what other people do in the ocean. He knows he’ll never be a surfer. The sharks are looking increasingly bored. He assumes a direction to be true– takes a deep breath and starts to crawl.

34

Anonymous says:

heavy…

Anny says:

I was reading along thinking “silly tOdd” and enjoying the imagery and then…wham! It sunk in and I felt it. Loved it tOdd. Really good writing.

Anonymous says:

Are you trying to tell us you are getting married?

Anonymous says:

He can’t get married in his state…

Crankor says:

If I wanted to read something boring I would read the side of my cereal box!!!! Make with the funny not with this crap!!!!

Josh says:

I don’t think todd wrote this.

Anonymous says:

Me neieieietherrrr….mep

Crumbles says:

I went swimming once annnddd….GLUB GLUB GLUB…

R N says:

I liked it.

Sharks dart by now and then. Playful or scary. They bump his legs sometimes. Their skin feels like sandpaper. He knows at any moment one can take a chunk out of him. If he swims in circles for too long he knows they’ll get bored and hungry. They bit him once years ago to make it clear that he was simply a dinner guest in their ocean. A warning bite. The scar has since healed but they can’t be trusted. He is prepared to punch for their eyes first if the time comes.

I can see a cartoon based on this paragraph.

🙂

/. says:

Astonishing writing at the highest level. One of the best of Todd’s stories.

S.S.

Anonymous says:

Holy Crap the S.S. approve of his writing and he’s a Jew!

cb1 says:

its the stuff like this that make this site real.

thanks for sharing tOdd.

Doug says:

Thanks.

Batman says:

BATMAN ENJOYED VERY MUCH

Smile says:

love

jmacz says:

Wow.. awesome Todd! Thanks!

CaptainBob says:

Heavy heavy heavy. Sounds like Todds getting his act together….

Anonymous says:

I can relate to that story right now. Brought out some emotion in me that I’ve not felt in a while. Thanks.

Bob says:

Just grab a hold of some floatsome, then no treading water and you dont have to wear clothes every day.

MsM says:

OK, heavy “Thoughtful” stories like this are usually a metaphor for something else. Is this a career story, Todd? Sink or swim in the world of L.A.? Floundering around? Trying to be a big fish in a bigger pond? Not fitting in with the groupers? Making some waves? Just remember, no matter what you do, you can’t change the sharks into something else. They are what they are.

Jizzed Pants says:

I jizzed in my pants here.

oddtodd7 says:

A fine tale. Expect to read this in The New Yorker.

R. A.

So...You've found work? You're persuing a career now? You're getting married? says:

You’re being deliberately vague. Playing it safe?

Raye says:

Interesting story. I liked the imagery within it. I know there are a lot of sharks swimming around me lately. Thanks for sharing!

Chef Nic says:

Good stuff Todd!

Ali says:

If Todd is getting married, he must have mail-ordered her last week! He couldn’t keep her underwraps for any amount of time. I bet he’s moving to LA to swim with the Hollywood sharks – a particularly fierce species

WTF!!! says:

I just took a dump so big, my local sewage treatment plant had to put on an extra shift.

Leah says:

Love it! It’s definitely a skill to write so simply (and slightly silly-y) and yet convey a heavy (and truthful) emotion you must be feeling.

Z says:

Great stuff, tOdd!

Jane says:

How is it possible that people are complimenting you on this crap? I mean, I’m in *love* with you and I started skimming at the second paragraph.

I choose to believe that you are either sending yourself comments or your fans are capable of brilliant sarcasm. Otherwise I lose faith in humanity and America’s educational system. But then, maybe I’m just jealous because it sounds like you’re getting married.

Anonymous says:

LOL you still have faith in the education system. Cuz it worqs good!

Anonymous says:

This is only a great piece of writing if you follow through on what you write. Bordering on spiritual, I’d say.

Texas Girl says:

Glad you’re swimming…but remember: it’s okay to wear your floaties if you need ’em. By which I mean–we’re all still here for you…we’ll be your floaties to help you reach your new destination. Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming!

Gundosuwl says:

Aloha! http://ijtzuh.com chxkq mzslp

Have a website? Wanna be featured below? Send me a banner 364x40! 100% Free!