Swimming Pool Mermaid

 
According to NPR the first official day of summer was yesterday. Tonight’s 6 o’clock news sez today’s the day.      

My body feels it — the summerness — and so I crave chlorine. That wavy blue scent crosses my mind in soaked zig-zags, activating that sparkly spot at the base of my spine… right above my ass crack, where my sequin-esque scales used to be.                

“It isn’t true what they say about mermaids not existing. I know they do for I’ve held one’s hand.” (Robert Fulghum)               

I’m a mermaid.               

Like how transsexual men claim to have a woman inside? Or how fat chicks claim to have a skinny chick whose trying to claw her way out? I have a mermaidy-ness that can’t be fought. She flaps her fins and I dive in.               

It’s always been that way. I’ve always mourned those missing scales, the mythic inside the human.               

I heard the siren song.               

I’d spend hours in the pool, ducking under and holding my breath, ticking away the mississippis until I could go for minutes without air. My cousin Autumn and I would play princess — spoiled mermaid princesses — with a doting Sea-King father and run of the ocean. We’d spin in the deep end, round and round and down like shimmering tornados. As the sun set, we were tired and smiley with skin like plump golden raisins.                

Unlike most kids — picky eaters who subsist on hot dogs and kraft mac n’ cheese — I gobbled raw oysters with abandon, slurping their salty-sweet meat & brine straight from the half-shell. I plucked the pink from the lobster’s red claw. I devoured scallops, mussels, mahi mahi, peachy fleshy salmon steaks. I sucked up the seaweed in my miso.                

My dad was amused by mermaid-me, cracking into my lobster and feeding me the buttery bits like he was tossing sardines to a circus seal.               

My mom, not so much. She grew weary of cleaning up my watery messes — sloshing over the tub with my tail, waves crashing onto the aqua marine tiles. She refused to make tuna fish when sloppy joes were on the stove. She struggled to twist my mop of tangled curls into elaborate french braids (more befitting of my mermaid fantasies.)               

Mom concedes that my inner mermaid came in handy the day I miraculously made it outta the deserted motel swimming pool, even though I was three and didn’t know how to swim. Over time I became a strong swimmer, self-taught and funny-lookin’ yet oddly capable. I could tread water for hours and I even swam across Stony Lake, and then around the perimeter, at Camp Storer. I was also the lone swimmer at the camp’s ass-crack of dawn “Polar Bear Swim”  — they even honored me for it with song & dance. Though I’m sure the lifeguard who met me daily, in the dark, would’ve liked that extra hour in her sleeping bag.                  

I’ve suspected the swish of a tail that wasn’t there and I sway with an unexplainable slosh in my hips.               

In Junior High, I was late for class and splashing down a long empty hallway, except it wasn’t so empty. Behind me, at least 20 feet back, was a loping skulking metal head named Lee. Looking a lot like Tommy of the same name, of Motley Crue fame, Lee was a campus legend. Rumor was, Lee drove a blue Camaro to his 8th grade classes. I was new to 7th grade when Lee called out from the distant shadows:               

If you shake that thing any harder, it’s gonna fall off!               

I was mortified — how dare this horny metal-head burn-out bum think for even one second that my mermaid moves were meant for him. It wasn’t about that for me — sex, seduction, show-offery — and so I tried to re-train myself. I tried to curtail my tail, as it were. Still, the scaly slither stayed with me. I’d pull it out in the safety of black streets or back alleyways. It was my secret mermaid strut. Not so secret after a few drinks, when I’m walking hand-in-hand to the ladies room with Lina or rushing the stage in all my rock & roll fineries. Platform boots, beat-up Stones tee and tiara. What can I say? Sometimes a Mer-Queen’s gotta get out & play.              

Now I’m all grown-up, with no desire to be 10 again, but I still slip into a bath and feel a fairy-tale release as the water rises over my slippery breasts. I’ve slept with 4 men but only 3 of them have seen me naked. Though I’m sure Mr. Three would object to my funny math; he may even have Polaroids to offer up as proof. Except it was a pretend camera the time I posed for all those imaginary click click clicks. (The Minolta in his mind took some really racy piks! Good thing there’s no negatives.) OK, I was nude around him, I confess… but he never held my buoyant body or tasted the salty sea on my collarbone or felt the powerful snap of my tail. So in a strange way, he never really saw me. Did you, fucker, did you ever really sea me? Sea, I told you so.               

Is my mermaid fixation a fetish? An obsession with otherness? A window into my soulful longing for all that lies below the surface?               

Sure, I’ll go for it, whatever rocks your boat. Maybe you think I’m just like those gals who played My Little Pony and grew up wanting to marry Mr. Ed. If so, then you’re wrong wrong wrong so don’t even think it.               

After my sister nearly drowned in Mexico, I taught my little sisters to swim — to overcome their fears and find their fins. Sometimes you just gotta yield to the mermaid. There’s truth in pretend and freedom in fantasy. Connecting with your own mythos is a tune in turn on thing.              

Still don’t believe in real-life mermaids?              

I gotta get me a tail like that! I’ve gotta get rich quick, maybe publish sleazy pulp under a pen name. I’ll crank out a best-selling bodice-ripper under the name Sirena Wave. I want my very own mold-to-my-curves mermaid tail. It’s not just for looks! You can swim in these suckers!  The Mer-Tailor or Merfolktails are just two of the companies making custom tails for freaks like me. They’re pricey, of course, but I’m gonna get one some day. I swear on my scales.               

               

Until that day, I’ll make do with my own jerry-rigged tails which I’ve proudly sported at the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. It’s always this week in June and New York is calling to me like a sea nymph. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be this year. It’s on the 26th, all you squids & sea monsters! Sea-monkeys and mermaids! Even if you’re just a gullible sailor out to gawk at the finned femmes, go go go thee to Coney.               

               

A word about the incredible mermaid art:              

The mermaid with the white hair is a new piece by Carolina Hardigree, whom we adore here at Cream Scene Carnival. Rightly so! She’s been experimenting with a looser brush stroke lately. I wasn’t sure about it at first (Hardigree has a bounty of technical skill and I love her stark mythic style) but it really works in this piece. It expresses the mermaid’s fluid nature. To see more of Hardigree’s magical artwork, hit the Carolina Hardigree tag or check out her studio site .              

The submerged swimming pool siren is a stunning Jaroslaw Kukowski painting. Kukowski, a polish surrealist, often paints mermaids. The Bettie Page mermaid is by the famed Olivia. The geisha is by J. Michael Walker. The folk art “X” mermaid is by Junker Jane. The mer with the tangle of curls is by Rustic Goth The sketchy scales are by Gretchen Kelly Studio. Doesn’t Kelly’s sleepy siren look like a mermaid trying to slither from her sleeping bag in time for the Polar Bear Swim? It was only after I began to fit the already chosen artworks into the text that I realized how well Kelly’s drawing illustrated the Camp Storer story. Hooray for happy accidents! 

Many of these pieces are available for purchase or as prints, so contact the artists if you’ve fallen in love. 

But not the Hardigree! That’s mine! OK, you can have the Hardigree cause I’m po’ but treat her right. Carolina Hardigree (my “Lina”) is more of a forest nymph than a sea siren. She prefers 100 year old pines to the crashing chaos of the ocean. I could see a mermaid coming to her though, after an obsession with snake skin, after she painted herself with bright green reptilian scales, and then there were the mermaid heels. “I tried to get a pair for you too, ” she said, as I fondled the faux fish-scale texture. “But you’re feet are too small! No 5.” I cursed my geisha toes cause there’s something oddly perfect about mermaid highheels — say she wanted to go out and see Soundtrack since they’re her favorite band but damn the no-legs thing and then she meets a briny hag who gives her legs for one night as long as she wears her scales via these magical highheels. When Carolina Hardigree fell for a pair of mermaid highheels, I knew it wasn’t long before a mermaid arrived on her canvas.               

Tails can be had too: http://www.merfolktails.com/ or http://www.themertailor.com/ Also if you balk at the price then renting is an option.               

To learn more about The Annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade, check out the official Coney site. Coney Island needs our love these days, Y’all!

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4 Responses to “Swimming Pool Mermaid”

  1. Funny, we both seem to have similar childhoods, playing mermaids, that is. As a matter of fact, I still have my own personal favorite mermaid, circa 1910 by Howard Pyle, hanging next to my bed, in a beautiful gold frame. She helps me dream of faraway places. Here she is ……especially for you.

    http://www.illusionsgallery.com/mermaid-pyle.html

    • alphabetfiend Says:

      There’s a lot of us mermaids out there!

      Or at least there’s a lot of us who played mermaid as kids and still feel an intense connection to the “myth” — enough to support several companies producing high-end sea-worthy silicone tails.

      I used to make these collagistic applique mermaid tee’s and I’d make ’em with glasses and wild hair and curves. We’d do custom too, to look like the person, and I heard so many stories from so many women about their deep connection to mermaids. I also heard that transgender children of both “sexes” tend to become obsessed with mermaids or centaurs etc, which makes perfect sense! Creatures who are celebrated for their lack of genitalia.

      I used to sleep with the John William Waterhouse over my bed, for many many years, until I gave it to my little sister. I loved it because she looked so realistic with this very fishy tail. Have you seen Nancy Farmer’s Artic Mermaids? They’re gorgeous! All plump & blubbery with oily seal skins.

      Check ’em out!

      http://www.nancyfarmer.net/im_arctic-mermaids.html

  2. alphabetfiend Says:

    The Pyle is so magical, him with his red hat, and I really do love it but y’know it just occurred to me that I favor the maids without the men.

    Too funny!

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