I swim every day of the year except on one or another holiday when all my pools are closed. This is no longer the end of the world; now it's more like the week before. I tell myself. You've got to put things in perspective. For example, I saw this sign in a Miami Beach hotel: THE OCEAN ISN'T OPEN. (Life's most important lesson, I've learned, is how to be forbearant, or put another way, how to be your own defensive coordinator.)
I belong to two health clubs, two Y's and a pool in a church basement. I used to belong to a third health club, but I let my membership lapse because I felt I might be overdoing it. I own 17 bathing suits, usually draped on doorknobs or over shower rods or fluttering from the railing of my deck. From time to time Tin arrested by the spectacle they present and find myself wondering what it is that I have done. I am the only person I know who sets his alarm clock on vacation: this is so I can do my laps before the kids get in the pool. It also occurs to me that I may be the only person I know. To say that my life centers on swimming adds little to the store of human knowledge. To say that swimming may in fact be my life is to slowly raise the curtain....
When asked whether I believe in God, I say I've never given it any thought. Oh, they say, you're an agnostic. No, I say, an agnostic hasn't made up his mind. With me, it hasn't entered my mind.
I lie. I believe in God, but it's a kind of token immanence—He only presides over swimming pools. I believe that if I tell myself I'm going to swim, say. 100 laps, He overhears me. He also counts. Maybe He goes like this, ||||[Strikethrough] |||| etc., or maybe he's got one of those little clickers. And if I swim, say. 98. I believe He shakes his head in confirmation of His longstanding conviction that I am without character, that I'm just vamping and have, as my father used to point out, no gumption.
Lifetime (mine, not His), He's had to count a million laps, minimum. And he doesn't get overtime. He doesn't even get paid. It's all pro bono. Benies? Does God need managed care, a 401(k)? But look at it this way, it's pretty steady work. How would you like to unload God? Got a nice little package for you, God, if you take early....
God: Don't even try it, sonny. I'll hit you with the age discrimination suit of the....
God: You took the word right out of my mouth.
A million laps works out to about 14,200 miles, more than halfway around the world.
Me: You know, God, when I was a kid I didn't set out to circumnavigate the globe, but, hey, if I live long enough, I got a shot at it.