The greatest danger, that of losing one’s own self, may pass off quietly as if it were nothing; every other loss, that of an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc., is sure to be noticed.
~ Soren Kierkegaard
Come with me back in time a decade or two where I am swimming in one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. I’ve had my fill of barbequed meat with all the trimmings. Washed it down with some generic beer from a can. Chatted with all the people I can tolerate. So I’m chilling, way out past the dock, away from the din of myriad related-by-marriage offspring. At over 300 pounds I float effortlessly, my toes tickled by gentle waves. All I have to do is lean back and I’m a pontoon uncapsizeable. I made that word up, according to my spell checker. I don’t care. It’s my blog. I am one with the lake. The water my headphones, a Zen soundtrack playing in my head.
I fall asleep.
Fast forward to this past Saturday. Over seven years since my weight loss surgery. I’m 185 pounds of where-the-hell-did-all-that-weight-go; not lean, yet no longer a whale. I’m with the kids at a pool just south of town. Between sno cones and popcorn, we’re working on floating. For the first time, Zoe gets it. She and the other two have floating contests. Four minutes – give or take, since I got tired of counting around two-hundred-ten-one-thousand – is the new record. “Come on Dad, float with us!” I’m game, so I lean back . . . and damn near drown. I try again, thrusting at the waist, trying to penetrate the surface. Did that sound raunchy? Sorry. No luck. My feet hit rock bottom.
What the hell?
I pose the question to Chris, a scientist, über-smart, a friend and fellow blogger. Here’s the deal:
As I understand it, it is all about cell density. Fat cells are big and loosely spaced, so fat tissue is not so dense. Muscle cells are all wound up on each other – kind of like a rope – so muscle tissue is much denser than fat. The denser something is, the more likely it is to sink in water. Fat tissue is generally less dense than water, so it floats. Muscle tissue is denser than water so it sinks.
How’s that?! You mean if I find myself in water over my head again, I might have to actually move something to stay afloat? Doggy paddle? Or, worse yet, I might have to resort to some hunter-orange-ugly Personal Floatation Device?
The Unsinkable One?!
Shit . . .