This is the first week of the semester at my college, and along with it comes the return of the foreign teacher, Connie. Yes, it’s me with my sassy new haircut, several amazing sale outfits and a fantastically noticeable, striking black eye to top it all off.
After years of expertly dodging inexperienced Chinese swimmers who flail about, kick in everyone’s faces, jump or dive headlong into the pool without paying attention to who’s beneath, or swim on the wrong side of the training lanes, I was nailed in the ocular 5 days ago at my favorite Chengdu hang-out, the Meng Zhui Wan Natatorium. I now sport a lovely cut over my left eye with purplish skin tones to match.
I landed from the States in Sichuan’s capital city around midnight last week and stayed for a few days to recuperate from jetlag before returning to Luzhou on Sunday. Aside from visiting friends, it’s always a must to schedule time in at the indoor pool where most people know me as the very, very fast swimmer.
With holidays not yet over, young people’s swim teams and water training courses blocked off half the pool’s lanes for their swimming time. This left the public (us) crammed into 5 lanes only. Even in a 50 meter pool, it was a squeeze but Thursday morning was especially so.
Sunny, almost 70-degree weather had our usual pool patrons overwhelmed with outsiders. Getting around them proved to be difficult as they were all over the place.
My black-eye culprit was one particular woman who insisted on kicking on her back with her flippers on and using her kickboard to hold her body afloat. Her cruising speed was that of a torpedo and since she was on her back, there was no way for her to see who might be in front of her.
She basically ran over anyone in her way.
When I came along from the opposite direction, plowing through just as fast to pass 3 breast strokers in a row, it was inevitable that we’d hit.
My assailant continued onward, unaware of any damage she’d done. I, meanwhile, was left nursing my eye at the end of the pool. Always a die-hard swimmer, I finished the last of my work-out before heading over to a mirror to have a look.
Awk! A cut and a black eye!
Nothing serious aside from my 45 year record of swimming without a single sports injury to my name being completely shattered.
Always a Positive in Every Negative
While I’m obviously unhappy about this facial blemish, I’ve learned if you have to have a sports injury, it’s best to have a prominently visible one. Ever since this happened, I’ve received an abundance of caring looks, sympathetic arm pats and heated, disgruntled comments about my attacker. A simple sprain or jammed finger would never have gotten me this amount of attention from my Chinese friends and colleagues. Even strangers in stores or along the street have peered with concern at my eye and offered helpful hints how to make it better. And telling the story again and again in Chinese (with embellishments, of course) has given me quite a lot of much-needed language practice after being gone for a month.
You know, in America we have a lot of sayings about such things. My favorite is: “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
Yes, indeed. At present, I’m finding black eyes make for great lemonade.
Back to reporting from China, here’s wishing you Ping An (Peace) from along the Yangtze.