"Mate, you swim like a dickhead..."
I'm in a small swimming baths in the suburbs of a provincial English city.
I like to keep fit, though I've never ever been to a gym in my life, therefore swimming is a good solution. When I was about fourteen, I swam a mile. I have no idea how I did that.
I would describe my swimming style as unorthodox. I guess this stems from my only real fear or phobia. Going underwater.
I can't explain this fear and it makes no sense. I have no idea where it came from but I've always had it. It must be something to do with not being able to breathe, but that is not everything. Any others I've had, heights, needles - I've conquered without a problem. This one sticks.
I remember when I was at school, I think probably the only detention I ever had was when I got into an argument with the PE teacher after I refused to dive to the bottom of the pool and get the brick. I said no, then I ended up getting out of the pool and totally refusing to even try. I just couldn't do it.
When I swim, it is a bit like a dog. My neck cranes and my head sticks out of the water. And sometimes there is a lot of effort for very little movement. I am better than I was, but I'm sure it looks a little strange.
Last week was the school holidays. Bad news for swimming, but I needed a bit of nager nager. It was packed with kids breaking all the rules of the pool - splashing, bombing, heavy petting - it was all going on. The lifeguard watched on gormlessly, whistle hanging dormant around his neck. When I'd got there, the guy at the counter raised an eyebrow at me as if to say "are you sure you really want to venture in there?"
"Yes" I replied in my mind as I searched my wallet for the correct change to use the lockers, "I'm going in."
I was ready. I was brave and prepared to dodge the inflatables and hormone fuelled adolescent teenagers.
It was going so well and I was slaloming through the parade of obstacles in my path as I did my lengths. Then confrontation hit.
You know in the wild west movies when the two cowboys face up to each other and there is tension filled incidental music? Well here in Bramley Swimming Baths on a midweek afternoon, this was my wild west moment. The only differences were that we didn't have guns, we were both wearing swimming trunks and one of us was about thirteen. So only three real differences there from those old movies. Everything else was basically the same.
As I swim up to the deep end, the kid hits me with his best insult. He's been working on it, you can see. How to best impress his friends. Some time has been spent on the sentence construction and tone here. And it's not easy for him to say it, he blurts it out.
Mate - A friendly opening designed to suck me in before he hits me with the killer punch. Like a check-raise in poker. He's cunning this boy, I'll give him that.
Dickhead - Another interesting choice.
Firstly, perhaps he doesn't know any real swear words? Though I find this hard to believe.
Secondly, maybe he's scared that if he uses too strong a word I'm going to deck him or steal his pocket money?
And thirdly, how exactly does a dickhead swim?
Now, a dilemma, what do you do when a thirteen year old kid insults you? It's a difficult problem at the best of times. When you are doing a slightly awkward doggy paddle it complicates matters further.
I did what I do best. I gave him a dirty look. The one I use on people when I think they are trying to bluff me at the poker table. Trust me here, it's a good one. I think that did the trick, his chortling subsided and he fixed me with a stare of his own, but as he was only thirteen, a lot of work clearly had to be done with his glaring. To be honest, it was poor and lacked penetration. Thus. I win.
And then I used my killer move. As I pushed off to swim back to the other end of the pool, I kicked my legs really hard and completely splashed him with water. It was smooth. Trust me, it was smooth.
That's cus I'm a mean mutha ucka and I don't take anyone ucking with my shi...