More diving lessons today. Better. I didn’t feel like a helpless tumbling astronaut as much, though I was eternally vexed by the task of detaching the connector hose to my BC underwater. And putting on a wetsuit still feels like skull-fucking the Michelin man. But I felt so peaceful snorkeling across the pool, watching the glittering light patterns on the bottom, broad wavering bands of light like David Hockney’s swimming pool paintings.
Why is art so often my first way into nature?
I felt happy that I’d grown a little closer to becoming a better swimmer. Crossing the pool wearing my lovely blue split fins it hardly felt like swimming at all. And how strange that a deep-seated fear of sharks should lead me to something so pleasurable.
Writing about struggling with the wetsuit-as-Michelin-Man made me think of my sister Janet. I can’t really think of a single thing that Janet feared. Truthfully, she often had a bit of contempt for those who let fear paralyze them. Janet was pure fire, such a force of nature, that it was inconceivable to me that she would ever die.
When she was battling brain cancer back in 1996, I sometimes spent the night in Cedars Sinai with her. We slept in adjacent beds with little metal slats on the sides. We smoked medical marijuana together. One night I sat up studying for an art history test. Janet suddenly turned over in her bed.
She looked at me through the odd bars of her bed. Her face looked a bit swollen from steroids, but her eyes bright and laughing.
“I just had a thought,” she said hazily. “The Michelin Man: He is comprised of tires.”
“He certainly is,” I said and we laughed at her pot-inspired epiphany.
When someone dies, weird little things like the Michelin Man become forever linked to deeper, sadder and more lovely memories–Janet in the hospital fighting a gruesome disease, yes, but also Janet stoned out of her mind and laughing, and Janet and I together.
I like to think Janet’s with me when I do things that I’m afraid to do. I like to think that it makes her happy.
His name is Bibendum and is one of the oldest trademarks (dating back to 1884). His name comes from the slogan ‘Nunc est bibendum’ (‘Now is the time to drink’) Horace’s Odes (book I, ode xxxvii, line 1). He is also referred to as Bibelobis or Bibe or just plain Bib.
Who knew that he had such an august history!