Lifeguard Practice

Lifeguard Practice
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grade 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.69

     challenging words:    anti-chlorine, archaic, discrete, disharmony, duplicity, intuition, meticulous, nuance, ribald, voluble, luminous, bandana, faculty, susceptible, disruption, vial
     content words:    Victor Toll, When Mrs, Suddenly Mrs

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Lifeguard Practice
By Colleen Messina

1     Victor Toll crashed through the front door and plunked his overstuffed backpack on the table. He pulled out his soggy towel and bathing suit and was about to dump them on the tile floor when voice stopped him.
2     "Please don't drop your wet clothes on the clean floor. I washed all the floors today," his mom hollered from the living room.
3     How did she always know? It must be some kind of mother's intuition, Victor thought, as he took his soaking things into the laundry room. On his way, he passed the living room and saw his mom kneeling in front of the fish tank gazing at her shining goldfish. She loved to observe the expressions the fish made with their slimy, transparent mouths and dark, beady eyes. Mrs. Toll was getting ready to clean the aquarium.
4     Even when she was doing housework, Mrs. Toll took great pride in her appearance. Her sleek black hair had a nuance of white in it because she stubbornly refused to use hair dye. Mrs. Toll insisted that grizzled hair looked elegant, not archaic; however, she admitted that she might eventually try a rinse. When Mrs. Toll cleaned the aquarium, she tucked her locks into a magenta bandana. Jewel-studded designer jeans and a white silk shirt completed her outfit.
5     Victor, on the other hand, liked wearing baggy jeans and T-shirts. His dark hair had a dynamic blue streak down the center. He chose blue to complement his blue-and-white lifeguard shirt. Mrs. Toll didn't mind when Victor experimented with his hair, and she looked forward to the latest color metamorphosis because it gave her a hint about Victor's mood. Unfortunately, Victor was never in the mood to help clean the fish tank, and this caused some disharmony in the household. He fed the cats instead.
6     Mrs. Toll was astute in every aspect of aquarium maintenance, and she arranged her cleaning equipment as carefully as a doctor organizes his surgical instruments. First, she spread out a large towel that was decorated with blue dolphins. Then, with great excitement, Mrs. Toll arranged a small net, a vial of anti-chlorine drops, a large bucket, bleach, and a shiny metal bowl on the towel. Since she was susceptible to germs, she donned clingy rubber surgical gloves for the procedure. Her hands looked like they belonged to a skinny Pillsbury dough person.
7     Once Mrs. Toll's meticulous preparation was complete, Victor did not disturb her. His mother viewed any disruption of her routine with contempt. The entire family tried to be discrete as they tiptoed out of the living room, leaving Mrs. Toll alone to begin her cleaning ritual. Their secret joke was that she worshipped the fish tank deity!
8     The luminous goldfish deserved such fine treatment because they were, in Mrs. Toll's eyes, spectacular pets. Archimedes, the largest fish, was named after the famous Greek scientist who discovered buoyancy. Archimedes, the scientist, ran naked through the streets, shouting "Eureka," when he made his discovery hundreds of years ago. Archimedes, the fish, enjoyed the principle of buoyancy without giving it a passing thought. His greatest discovery was that he could swim through the large volcanic rock in his aquatic home. Archimedes, the fish, barely fit into his 30-gallon aquarium because he was at least six inches long.
9     "How was your lifeguard class?" Mom asked. Victor realized that she hadn't started her cleaning ritual. She was never voluble when she cleaned the tank.

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