Before he got into the water.
His gray hair and receding hairline, seemed out of place with his rippling muscles as he eased himself into the lounge chair he’d erected in the sand. His arms, legs, and chest bore the tawny hue and slick sheen of a professional tanner. His swim trunks were probably silk.
As he settled, facing the water and the scorching afternoon sun, eyes shut, the rest of us minced our way into the water. Spring-fed, it felt exactly like iced tea. I wondered if ice cubes would even melt in this lake.
I finally advanced to waist-deep and noticed another woman inching along, stealing herself against frigid wavelets from splashers nearby. She and I shared small talk about her husband betting her she could not submerge herself. So far, he was winning.
About 25 yards out, a tall rock formation provided a fun diving area. Occasionally, I could hear exactly what some child out there might holler at another. The acoustics around us, so surreal, could give goose bumps, even if the water did not, and even if the day was hotter than the lake was cold.
I worried about the elderly tanner. Was he hydrated? He had no drink container with him. He certainly was dripping with perspiration, and seemed asleep. What a shame if he blistered that expensive tan. Or overheated.
I decided to keep an occasional eye on him. The elderly sometimes have no clue about health things.
I’d just turned back to my resolve of getting completely wet, when the old guy sprang from his nap and flung himself into the water, in a perfect emergency dive. Flat, but no belly flop.
Into ice water.
On a 100-degree day.
And kept going. One powerful front-crawl stroke after another, he reached the base of that rock platform in about ten seconds.
And fished a floundering boy from the water, holding him up and safe, while the child coughed and gagged and sputtered and cried. The old man rinsed scant blood off the child’s chest, examining him closely. They mumbled conversation, the old man forcing eye contact, the child impatiently nodding his head, trying to swim free from the firm grip on his arm.
As the child climbed back up the rock, his savior watched, and called to him, “You stay away from the edge, there, you hear me?”
And then swam back, all 25 yards, almost as fast.
And walked out onto the burning sand, hardly winded.
And muttered to the astonished ones around him, “That was my grandson.”
How about you? Ever save someone? Don’t be shy.