Friday, April 13, 2012

Million Dollar Mermaids (from the dollar store)

“It’s about time” Lorelei said when she spied Nixie streaking through the water.

“Oh hold your sea horses, Pressyne is right behind me” said Nixie, raising her lithe torso out of the water.

Synchronized swimming was very different from the strokes that had carried her to victory in international competitions.  She would never have auditioned for this mermaid extravaganza if an injury hadn’t knocked her out of the pan-American games.

Pressyne glided in with a graceful backstroke, then flipped over and pulled herself up n a moss covered rock.  

“I promised my daughter she could watch us practice today, that’s why I’m late” she panted.

On the bank above the stream chubby little Melusine bounced up and down with excitement “Oh mommy!  Your costume is so pretty.  I want to be a mermaid just like you when I grow up.  Then daddy will be sorry, won’t he!”  

“Oh, so he threw your past up in your face and you’re leaving him again,” said Lorelei.  Pressyne kept her head down and remained silent.  “What’s Ondine’s excuse?”

“I’ve been here since before you got here” called Ondine from the opposite side of the pool.  “If you didn’t have your nose so high in the air you would have seen me.” 

“Well never mind all that,” said Pressyne.  “Let’s run through one time before the make-up call.  You know what a tyrant Buzz can be.  

“Is Miss Williams going to rehearse with us today?” asked Nixie, stroking towards the rock that was their starting point for the water ballet.  Miss Williams had been a champion competitor too and Nixie admired her greatly.

“I heard she’s feuding with Buzz because she’s pregnant again and doesn’t want to do the big dive in the finale” said Pressyne as the water sprites aligned themselves in the opening pose.  

“I’m glad I don’t have to do that dive,” said Ondine as the four backstroked downstream in tight formation.  

“And personally I’d like to know what old Buzz is smoking.  How does he come up with these routines?”

“Stop worrying about Mr. Berkeley and pay attention to his choreography, Ondine” snapped Lorelei as they flipped and headed back up stream.  “You’re out of synch with the rest of us.  Remember we glide with the right arm up first.”  

“O.k., o.k.  I’m on it,” said Ondine, adjusting her stroke as they turned at a right angle and fanned out to cross the pool from stage right.  

“But diving from a helicopter with fireworks going off all around you can’t be good for the baby – if it’s true she’s expecting again,” Ondine continued as they crossed back from stage left.

“Well that’s why she’s the star” said Lorlei.  “If I thought it would get me a speaking part I’d offer to do that dive in a heartbeat."

"Doesn't the mermaid usually have to give up her voice in order to win the prince and gain an immortal soul?"  asked Nixie.  No one had an answer for that dire observation.

Instead they crisscrossed the pool diagonally,

counting the measures inwardly

and watching out of the corners of their eyes so they could keep abreast of each other.

Mr. Berkeley wanted to film this sequence with several dozen chorines.  Woe betide the unit that missed cues or failed to keep in synch.  

“Jeez Ondine, you’ve still got the wrong arm up,” said Lorelei as they clustered in the final formation. 

“O.k, o.k., I’ll get it next time” said Ondine leaning against a rock in the shallows to catch her breath.

She could already feel the new life flutter kicking in her womb.  Should she take the plunge?  Motherhood might curtail her career... Larry's promises of undying, faithful love might prove to be as ephemeral as bubbles in the stream... But surely a baby would would kindle her soul...

The mermaids have gone off to enjoy a blueberry muffin brunch:

À Bientôt


  1. That was a lot of fun. I've always enjoyed synchronized swimming. The breakfast meal looked wonderful!

  2. They all look beautiful to be from the dollar store!

  3. Cute story! I enjoyed it. Love your video as always!

  4. Thanks for your comments ladies. I have a great admiration for Esther Williams so it was a lot of fun to do a water ballet photo story.

  5. Hello from Spain: I congratulate you for the story and photos of your sirens. It is a beautiful entrance. Congratulations for the video.Keep in touch.

  6. I've only seen synchronized swimming in commercials. Hearing about how it's done here has been educational as well as fun!

    Thanks for creating this story and sharing it with us.

  7. Hi Marta and D7ana,

    Thank you for your comments. I swim like a rock but Ester Williams" autobiography, _Million Dollar Mermaid_ gives a lot of inside information on what it took to create the water ballet spectacles in her movies. For example, since she had to spend hours and hours in the water, she would be coated head to toe in grease first thing in the morning before she got in the pool. Washing the lanolin out of her hair at the end of the day was a time-consuming process. Learning about all the hard work that went into those beautiful scenes made me appreciate them even more.

  8. Hello from Spain: I can not leave a message at the entrance of the wedding of Vanessa and I'll leave it here. Congratulations for your partner to guests. They are both very smart. See you at the wedding.Keep in touch