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Dipping my toes in the pool

May 12, 2011

Is the water warm? Cool? Hot? Intensely, bitterly cold? I’m about to dip my toes in this pool and answer these questions, but what do I already know before I do that?

I don’t see any steam rising up from the water. I don’t see any ice forming over the surface. I also don’t see a temperature gauge on the pool. But I do see some other people already mostly submerged in the pool water. They’re all wearing regular swimsuits, no wetsuits or other temperature-sensitive apparel. Nobody appears to be shivering, and I hear no teeth chattering. Everyone appears to be active, as well, playing with no sluggishness, no flush faces.

But they’re on the other side of the pool. What about right in front of me here? Am I about to step into a heated cove? (A hot pocket, if you must?) I don’t see any unusual water streams beneath the surface, at least that I can see from here at the edge of the pool, nor any divisions or ridges in the pool floor; the water seems calm and uniform.

Combining all of these observations with my previous experiences in, and what I’ve read and been told about, pools and other bodies of water, I have a pretty good idea of what the water is going to feel like when I dip my toes in the pool.

But, wait–why did I go through this exercise just now? I could have immediately dipped my toes in the pool and answered my questions right away. Perhaps that action would have been off script? Was there a lack of confidence? Did it seem too obvious?  In making those other observations, was I metaphorically dipping my toes in the water before I metaphorically dipped my toes in the water as a part of this greater metaphor I’m working out here about both software testing and starting a blog? (I think that was a meta metaphor there. But let’s move on.)

Turns out, there’s a sign next to the pool that says “$15 to enter pool. Includes dipping toes!” and a clipboard in my hand with a form titled “Effects of intensely, bitterly cold pools on the human body.” I just saved myself 15 metaphorical dollars. Thanks, context.

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