Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Great Flood, A Mermaid Tale

Back in early November, I told the tale of The Tail, the first mermaid tale. I promised I’d occasionally tell other tales. So today, I’m telling the tale of The Great Flood.

Early one morning, I came into work, expecting it to be just another day of picnicking underwater, doing ballets and waving from the volcano at guests. When I got backstage, though, I discovered it was not to be just another day. Although we were having overcast weather, elsewhere, days ago, the weather had been stormy and rain had fallen in giant buckets. That “elsewhere” was where the springs at Aquarena Springs got its water. It rains there, filters down into the sub-levels and eventually rises in the hundreds of springs where I swam.

We were expecting a huge amount of water -- so much that all workers were assigned jobs to save the show area. The volcano and submarine could float, although they might lose some anchors. But… heavens to Betsy… Ralph(s) was in danger. Ralph, in case you’re just joining in on these tales, was Ralph the Swimming Pig, the most famous performer. (Don’t tell anyone, but there was always at least two Ralphs since, unlike human performers, Ralph wasn’t allowed to swim two shows in a row.) So Ralph and Ralph had to be moved to high ground.

At the time, we had two swans in the show area (someday I’ll tell a tale about them). They can swim, but since management didn’t want them to be able to swim right out of the show area in the high water, they had to be corralled and moved to high ground. Have you ever tried to corral a swan?

All kinds of stuff had to be tied down. Management wanted us to move the catfish that was older than sin and bigger than a zip car to a more secure place. If you think swans are difficult to wrangle, try moving a big ol’ bottom dwelling catfish. We got the swans moved, but not the catfish.

They wanted us to move the ducks, but, come on, ducks can fly.

Finally, the Ralphs, the swans, the volcano were all rescued or tied down or set free.

Then, we, the performers, were told to get in and swim the late morning show. (Shows you what the pecking order was.)

Being spring-fed, the waters in the show area were always crystal clear. That day, the water was so murky it was almost like trying to see through a wall. I could put my hand up about a foot in front of my and not be able to see my fingers. The girls moved ballet up close to the sub, did our moves, then held out our hands, hoping the guys holding the air hoses would spot our palms and give us air. The water was so cloudy the audience inside of the sub would not have been able to see us picnicking on our lily pads, so we took our picnic bags, swam right up to the sub windows, held on to the window frame and ate our celery and drank our punch. Then we turned and swam back toward the volcano, hoping we weren’t wandering off in the wrong direction.

After the show, we headed up top to wave goodbye to the audience as they exited the submarine. An audience that consisted of one man and his dog.
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  1. LOL! And I bet the dog enjoyed the show the most.

  2. How cute. Thanks for the laugh first thing this morning.

    I love trying to picture Ralph and his routine. Since I'm new to your blog, I'm wondering does he have an outfit he wears while performing? :)
    Looking forward to the next tale.

  3. Wow, all that trouble! I can't imagine moving catfish and ducks. And Ralph the Swimming PIG?

  4. This is SO funny. What a lot of work! I'd have drowned during these shows...can't hold my breath that long.

    I was wondering when we'd get another story! Thanks for this one.


  5. What a boss! Couldn't he have cancelled the show with the water so murky? I'd think it would be a hazard to the swimmers, er, mermaids.
    Great story!

  6. Cancel a show! No way. We swam year round, every day except Christmas day. Try walking an icy catwalk to the volcano. Barefoot. That was treacherous.

  7. This is the first time I've heard a mermaid tale. Love love love it, Helen. Wish I could have seen you. Where I grew up in Queens, NY, we had a place called Aquamarine, in one of the buildings from the World's Fair held in Flushing Meadow Park. They had swimming shows there and I loved them.

  8. That was fun :) Good reading for a Sunday break - back to baking!

  9. Helen, I hope you don't mind, I referenced your blog on mine this morning - I'm still laughing about swans, ducks, mermaids and Ralphs one and two ...

  10. Hahahaaa - thanks for the fun read and chuckles. Nicely told tale, too. And the crowd? Well, that's one person and a dog better than some of the no-shows I've experienced in life, lol.

    Marvin D Wilson

  11. Up here (Wisc Dells) we have the Tommy Bartlett Water Show but its all 'above ground'. Your mermaid tales are great...a collection in the offing?

  12. No, I don't mind you referencing my post. The first Mermaid Tale I posted was a bit embarrassing, but this one is not. ;-O

  13. This really happened? Sounds like part of a story. Or, maybe you could make a story out of it. Chapter one is almost done.

    Morgan Mandel

  14. Maybe it's not your chosen style of writing, but there's a funny story waiting to be written that includes a character who holds a job as a mermaid.

  15. I've never considered writing a memoir of my years as a mermaid, but have thought of writing a novel with a girl swimming as a mermaid as the protagonist.

  16. Hey! do enjoy underwater but watch for the volcano :).. Anyways, a really fun and good read..


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