The Ballad of Penny Joanna

83 phone calls.

That’s how many times I dialed Chicago’s Galter Life Center to try to register Posey for their Aquababies swimming program.  Think that sounds nuts?  I forgot to mention that I set my alarm for 4:50 a.m., as the registration began at 5. I thought it was going to be overkill.  Instead, I quickly found out I should have had six phones to dial simultaneously.  Apparently, these are the only indoor lessons that take infants as young as six months, so classes fill up quickly.  Finally, on the 84th dial, I got through, and it felt like I won the lottery.  “Let me guess!” a chipper voice sang on the other end. “You’ve got an AQUABABY!”

Well, now I do.

My kid loves the water.  You’ve never seen happiness until you’ve seen Posey splash around in her bath tub.  So now it’s official–  I’m one of those parents who goes to insane lengths for their kids.  Or in my case, my baby.  It’s still sinking in:  I got up before 5 A.M. to make 84 PHONE CALLS to score SWIMMING LESSONS for a BABY who WON’T REMEMBER THEM and probably will still NOT KNOW HOW TO SWIM when they’re over.

And it felt awesome.

In 1984, I wanted a Cabbage Patch Kid.  So did every other kid in America.  Unfortunately for my Mom and Dad, there was no internet yet.  No pre-orders, no eBay, just empty shelves in every toy store across the nation.

Shortly before Christmas, my parents got a tip from a local store (which sadly, went out of business years and years ago) that a secret shipment was coming in.  They literally had to meet an employee at a back door to get the doll– which was disguised in brown paper wrapping.

And Christmas morning, I met Penny Joanna, a Cabbage Patch Preemie, her weird little tuft of yarn hair all yellow and fluffy. She was hidden, Red Ryder BB Gun-Style, behind a chair in the living room.  The Grand Finale.  I still remember how she smelled and the crinkly sound that the box’s plastic window made.

Swimming lessons start August 23rd, my birthday.  I can’t wait.

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