Milt Abel is a stand-up comedian traveling the world, and places closer.


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Hagg Lake Towel Boy

By Milt Abel | May 26, 2010

| May 26, 2010

Hagg Lake Towel Boy

Recently the Catholic Church bashfully dug its toes around in the dirt, waved its hand through the air with an ‘aw shucks’ flair, and announced that it was moving Copernicus from its ‘Heretic Bound for Hell’ file into its “You Were Right -but that doesn’t make us wrong’ file. After 450 years! And some people thought it would never happen. It just shows you that the Church will admit it’s wrong, as long as you’re not still alive to hear it. The church’s motto: the world may revolve around the sun but sanctity still revolves around us.

My wife and I heard the Church’s repositioning over NPR as we drove out to Hagg Lake this past Sunday morning. When the radio’s news story ended, I took the occasion to remind Janie that in my travels I had seen ancient hotels, well before Copernicus’ time, that had stationary observatories on their top floor while the rest of the hotel revolved underneath.

We were headed for the man-made lake and recreational area for a competitive 2K open-water swim that my wife had voluntarily entered. Not a drunken dare, just chose to swim out and navigate around some buoys in the middle of a lake, then climb back out where she started as if the whole thing was planned. Here’s a photo of the couple hundred wetsuit-cladded entrants moments before the race started. My wife Janie is out there among them, she’s in the black wetsuit and red swimming cap. (they all are) The big orange thing is one of the buoys they use for marking the course.

hagg peer pilings

All those black uprights partially in the water near the shore; like too many pier pilings for an overbuilt dock. The red caps are to keep the sea gulls off.

Once the race started it was my job to watch ‘our stuff’. For such an ancient way to get around, triathletes have a lot of equipment; wetsuits and goggles and caps, biking gear, running gear, water and nutrition supplements, steroids (well, not anyone I know), towels and clothes changes, and backpacks and duffle bags to carry it all. This morning’s race was only a swim, but most everyone participating was also a triathlete of sorts, as were most of the observers and shore-side supporters. As I stood watch over ‘our stuff’ -actually it was just Janie’s, once I’ve gotten dressed and had coffee I don’t need any more ‘stuff’ until it’s time to pull out my pajamas and goggles for bedtime. It occurred to me that anybody there at the Hagg Lake open swim could just walk up and take something and start running off with it and there’s be little chance of me catching them. My sentry duty was mostly ceremonial, like a London Guard, but I don’t get in trouble for laughing.

The race itself is not much to watch. The racers quickly become unassigned errant arms splashing in the distant water and shouts of encouragement feel diluted. Try and get specific and you could easily be encouraging on a competitor, I didn’t want my wife climbing out after the race and saying, ‘you were cheering on that jerk in front of me.”

Just off the course where a few boats with fisherman. As we drove around the lake to reach the race’s starting point we passed several weekend fishermen. Mostly not-so-svelte men standing about with a pole and a line in the water. Janie made a funny comment that I’ll have to try and expand into a bit for my stand-up: “How many sports can you take a nap in the middle of, and still be competing?” Curling? Certainly not stock-car racing. Narcoleptic high hurdles?

The first swimmer climbed out after just 26 minutes. I watched from near the finish line and as finishers climbed the steep muddy slope several stumbled because they were exhausted, and cold. I was cold, standing dry and in a jacket, I was cold. So I knew my wife would be cold when she climbed out so I dashed back to our stash and grabbed a towel to wrap around her when she climbed out after 36 and a half minutes of swimming. She’s a good swimmer and I’m a fair towel boy.

Topics: comedy, humor, travel | No Comments »