My family and I are preparing for a trip to Alabama to see my wife’s brother Clifford (a.k.a. El Cunado). The plan is to rent a large van and take everyone my wife has ever been casually acquainted with.

We will also be spending a couple of hours each day of the trip driving to Florida to go to the beach. One day seemed like enough to me, but what the heck it’s something to do I suppose.

Florida was the go to destination for parents when I was a kid. I have fond memories of Florida; it felt very much like a different country. To this day I can still smell the airbrushed t shirts and the seafood.

I don’t have a lot of sympathy for my parents but I suppose it was kind of a drag having a kid that hated seafood in Florida. It must have been a real buzzkill listening to me order a hamburger at a beautiful seaside restaurant.

The first summer when we were making plans to go to Pensacola my parents decided that it would be a good idea for me to take some swimming lessons at Evans Boys Club. That club had, I assume they still do, a nice swimming pool. That pool was the envy of Boys Clubs in the area. Kids from surrounding area’s would show up on buses on a weekly basis in their flip flops and carrying beach towels to use our pool.

I already knew how to swim but I was not going to turn down lessons; that just meant more pool time. Before my first lesson began a friend and I were comparing notes on the different kind of dives we knew such as the Watermelon Roll, Can-opener, Cannonball, etc… But then my friend asks me if I know the Pencil Dive and with some embarrassment I admit that I have never heard of such a thing. He explains to me that a Pencil Dive is when you jump in the pool straight up and down with your arms to your side which allows you to go all the way down and touch the bottom. Now most pools I had been in were six to seven foot deep but the Evans Club pool was nine foot deep. I jumped in as instructed and quickly sank to the bottom when I felt something in my ear pop. I pushed off and barely made it back to the surface before panic set in.

A few days later, right before we left for Florida, I was taken to the doctor and informed that I had an ear infection and was ordered to stay out of the water for three weeks. I spend my first vacation in Florida on the beach with cotton and antibiotics shoved in my ear. I went into the water once lying on an air mattress, I feel asleep, drifted a bit too far out, was capsized by a large wave that pulled me to the bottom and rolled me over and over until I was not sure which way was up. I survived, but spent the remainder of the trip on the beach.

When we were on our way back home, my mother was driving when my step dad, step brother and I fell asleep. I remember waking up in the backseat feeling as though I was in great danger; it felt as though we were going very fast. I looked and my mother was driving 105 mph. I went back to sleep. I decided that I would rather die in my sleep than to experience the terror of the impending car crash wide awake. My mother disputes this part of the story to this day.