There was a time when swimming was in. This was before Instagram and Twitter. This was before WhatsApp. It was back in the stone age where we sent smoke signals across the sky for communication. A time we’d walk in leopard skins thrown around the loins and a spear for support. When we’d spit on the road with nary a care. Disease was afraid of us not the other way around. A time we fed weetabix to baby plants so they grew strong. Good days those ones and swimming made it even better.
This was a time when the words “Si twende swimo” brought more joy than today’s “Niko solo come”. Guys knew how to have fun. Except me, I never did that stuff. Swimming was for the elitist adolescents, the ones that wanted to see girls in black bikers, blue swimming caps and whatever it is they covered up their blooming chests with. The stories that went round after sounded like a medieval annual festival of carnal coital endeavors and feasts of roasted lamb legs with pitchers of wine to boot. Guys beat their chests so hard that gorillas in the Congo were riled up. It was always about a Mary who did something or a Jamo who almost drowned trying to dive. There was always new drama every time guys went and every time I was on the receiving end of the story. Never there for myself. An innocent bystander subjected to the tales of debauchery by eager knights.
For some reason I feel like I missed out on a stage in life. Like I will be married with kids and shudder every time one of them flushes the toilet. Involuntarily my eyes will close, fists clench and I will rock back and forth in fetal position. After the episode I will try and convince the wife that I’m okay and it’s normal. But for whatever’s right in the world she’ll know it’s bullshit. She’ll say I’m full of it and book an appointment on a Friday, a godamn Friday like Monday or Tuesday wasn’t good enough and true to word; Friday finds me at some well carpeted room in Hulingharm, a building aged like a fine whisky, a building with presence, a building that has a story to tell.
I will be in the reception looking at the TV showing re runs of something boring like a soap. Wifey will be next to me arm on mine rubbing it, assuring me it’s all fine.
“Just tell her everything.” She’ll say
“Okay. Our anniversary too?”
“Don’t fight it Shad. Besides you don’t even know when that is.”
I’ll snigger and she’ll retort “We’re paying a lot for this.”
“You mean I’m paying a lot for…” I start to stay but her stare cuts me off.
“Men don’t do this” I’ll mumble
“Neither do they cuddle on the floor rocking back and forth because the toilet flushed”.
That would be the end of the argument until a slender lady in a gray suit with a purple blouse and rimmed spectacles opens a heavy brown door and calls my name. I’ll get up straighten my shirt and walk in. She’ll shake my hand and point at wifey, wife? She’ll ask. I’ll shrug and say maybe depends if I’m crazy or not. She’ll laugh and usher me in. The door will shut behind after I’ve walked in followed closely by confidentiality.
“What’s the problem?”
“I don’t know I don’t think it’s a problem”
“Okay, fair enough. So what’s not the problem?”
Smart. I’ll think. Like the accolades on the wall are paintings for ambiance.
“I don’t like the toilet flushing.”
I will swear to see a smile form at the corner of her eyes. But she’ll adjust her glasses and it will disappear.
“So you don’t flush the toilet?”
“No I do. Eew. What?! No it’s just that if the kids do it I get an episode.”
“Aaah go on…”
“That’s it. It’s just an episode. No sequel. Just reruns every time the kids flush.”
“What about her?” She points at the closed door.
“Oh her?” I laugh “I can’t stand her shit.”
She’ll get the joke. Laugh and then say she sees nothing wrong with me. I’ll raise my hands in resignation and tell her to tell wifey. Write a note possibly. So whenever I do some stupid shit and she says there’s something wrong with me I can pull it out and say “ha! She doesn’t think so and she’s paid to find things wrong with people.”
She will ask questions about my childhood. Who my friends were and the kind of shenanigans we engaged in. I’d tell her a lot, peeling back stories about my childhood till I stood there in front of her naked. She’d take it all in then let out a sigh. A calculated one. Short and heavy.
“You’ve not mentioned swimming…”
“Yeah, never did that.”
“Really?” She’ll say as she pens something into a notebook.
I will be looking at the space between her accolades trying to figure if the wall is a faded brown or just a fresh coat of cream. After what seems like ages she’ll look up and say “go today and everyday after as much as you can”
She’ll laugh again and say; no, swimming.
“You don’t need them.”
“Let me see you out”
As we get up I’ll turn and ask her about the note.
“Seriously?” She’ll ask.
“Yeah. Come on help me out here. You said it I’m not crazy”
“I said there’s nothing wrong with you” she’ll correct.
“Okay” She’ll agree
Outside I’ll meet wifey and say everything is fine. But Shell look past me and at the doctor who’ll say the exact same thing. He’s fine. Just take him swimming. After they exchange some pleasantries we’ll leave. Have an awkward conversation in the car. Okay not really awkward but a conversation that’s not here or there.
“She said you were a handful.”
I’ll say Daktari casually. Like she’s a drinking buddy from back in the day.
“When? I didn’t hear that.”
“That’s your problem Shad. You don’t hear things because you don’t listen. That’s what’s wrong with you.”
Then it will hit me good old daktari in the gray suit gave me a note saying there’s nothing wrong with me. Zilch. I will pat the indiscinct outline in my pocket and smile.
“But daktari doesn’t think that though…” I’ll whisper
“Yeah she even gave me this note to prove”
I’ll start fishing into my pocket for the note. Hold it infront of her face like a get out of jail free card. Her eyes will look away for a minute then she’ll clear her throat.
“Okay let’s see it. What does it say?”
I’ll open to read the damn note with a look as smug as Donald’s hair piece.
“See the doctor says…” my voice starts to trail off as I realize daktari played me. A good one.
“What? Come on. What does it say?”
She’ll grab the note and see the words “us women got to stick together. Sorry :)”
But I won’t worry because as soon as I got to a pool I’d cry.
Now I know you are probably wondering what the story is all about. It’s about nothing really just breaking this rut I’ve been in where the pen (keyboard?) Had refused. Also I want to meet the guys that read this. Preferably over a beer. I’ll buy the first round. Any takers? Drop a comment.