Pet Peeves

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by Mark D. Crantz

Wow. The high school’s Laguna Girls Water Polo team won their sixth Barnett Holiday Cup. I caught up with the team to get their reaction. “Congratulations,” I said. “What,” replied the team captain. “How do you feel about your win?” The captain jumping up and down seemed excited. “I can’t hear a thing. Got water in my ears.”

The rest of the interview was done in pantomime. I interpreted their answers as best as I could. Generally, the team was excited to beat the other southern California schools.  They credited the win to their parents, who threw them into a pool at a young age. The girls learned the importance of not sinking. Surprisingly, the parents were not good swimmers themselves and did not pass on the other part to not sinking, swimming. The partial instruction inspired the girls to tread water until their teen years.

I said, “That’s a lot of treading. Was it hard on you to go nowhere while your friends were out having fun poolside?” The girls synchronized their answers by squirting water in my face. I took their action to mean they made their own fun. As I toweled off to squeals and giggles, I wondered if the girls not being able to hear was all there was to this silent interview. I watched more closely, as they practiced. There was no talking, or yelling instructions to each other. But they moved together, somehow. So I asked how they coordinate the plays together. That’s when the interview went into the drink.

Without nary a word to one another, the team tossed me into the pool. I’m not built for swimming. I’m not built for treading, either. I sank like a rock. And that’s when I heard it. It was a high-pitched, hard-to-hear sound. It couldn’t be me. I was holding my breath and thinking when I get to topside I was going to tell the Indy editor I wasn’t covering water sports ever again. My vision dimmed with a last thought to squirt my answer to the editor.

Next I knew I was poolside heaving up large amounts of chlorinated water. I was relieved. It told me I wasn’t in Flint, Michigan, but instead, safe and sound in Laguna Beach. The water polo team looked down at me with concern etched on their collective faces. I blubbered, “I’m fine. I’m fine. Thanks for the rescue.” The girls smiled and jumped back in the water and that’s when I heard it without hearing it.

“Marco…Polo…Marco…Polo. It wasn’t talking, as we know it. It was a high-pitched sound and different, yet familiar, too. I couldn’t place it. Then it came to me. I spouted the answer. It was keening. It was whales and dolphins talking to each other under water.  Our girls’ water polo team had learned how to communicate the same way. I smiled and asked my final interview question. “Do you think any land-bound high school team will beat you?” They answered. I smiled. You can guess the answer, even if you can’t hear it.


Crantz tells the Indy that while in high school he would have “hold your breath under water” contests with his father. He never won. His father would be minutes better. It was truly amazing, just like the Laguna Girls Water Polo team.


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