I’ve mentioned before how much of a scaredy cat I am. In fact, I was late for work one day about three weeks ago because there was a huge insect in the shower that morning and I refused to get in until he was gone. I didn’t try to kill him, or scare him away, you understand. I just waited him out. Because I am gutless. (Poor choice of words, given the subject of the blog?)
Last Friday afternoon, I was full of my usual pre-boxing fear, when I left the Arts Block on campus. As I left the building, I passed a massive group of students. This isn’t strange. They were speaking quite quietly and some were writing very frantically, but that wasn’t what made them stand out. I looked at them for a minute trying to figure out what was strange about the scene. Then I realised.
They were all standing in pairs. Although they were clearly all part of one big group they appeared to have paired themselves off into an even number of couples. Nowhere was there a trio, and no one was alone.
Of course! It was a debating intervarsity competition. These undergrads (generally of less than average attractiveness) were, like I had once been, university debaters in teams of two.
They were all in a state of muted panic. It was obviously that horrible, horrible 15 minutes between the motions and rooms being announced and the debates starting.
I remember those 15 minutes of torture very well. My partner would be telling me what to say while I had a mini-nervous breakdown. He would ask me to tell him what our argument was and I would mutter incoherently back at him. My main aim in those 15 minutes was always the same: could I squeeze in 2 cigarettes in the 15 minutes without my partner getting too pissed off? Once I got in the debate, my nerves generally settled, but the 15-minute prep time was hell on earth.
Why I debated for four whole years is a mystery.
Anyway, a little thrill ran through me as I looked at the current crop of debaters nervously prepping.
It’s a fear I’ll never have to face again.
But I have plenty of new fears to replace that one. As I walked to boxing, my heart pounding with stress, my hand caressed a new purchase that I’d been carrying around in my pocket for two days – a sweatband.
At boxing, I invariably turn into a sweaty mess. I don’t mean little pearls of sweat that tumble gracefully down my forehead. No. I mean great sheets of salty fluid that ooze out of every square inch of my skin. And sweat gets in my eyes. And it dries out my contacts and sometimes my eyes go all red from it. It also means I can’t see anything.
So I need a sweatband. As well as protecting my eyes from sweat, it has the added advantage that it makes me look like Dougie from McFly. Or an 80s tennis star. Both good things.
I was excited about my sweatband.
And yet, and yet, I didn’t put it on. Because I was scared the other boys would laugh at me. BECAUSE I’M OBVIOUSLY SIX YEARS OLD.
I’ll totally wear it to boxing tomorrow. Honest.
I was also scared when I climbed on the scales last night at WeightWatchers. I shouldn’t have been. I’d had a good week. I had cheated once, but it was well-adjusted cheating, by which I mean to say, it wasn’t three packets of biscuits, or an extra-large meatball pizza. I went into a fast-food place and had a chicken wrap and a diet Coke. Wild, I am.
But it is a sign that I’m getting into a healthy frame of mind as regards food.
So this week, I lost a pound and a half. That’s thirteen pounds down in three weeks. I was a little disappointed at first, as I wanted to have lost a stone (fourteen pounds). But I’ll do that next week.
I miss the promise of the various diets I “followed” last year. If I’d stuck to my beans diet, or to the milkshake one for three weeks, I would have lost closer to 20 pounds than ten. But that was the problem. I never stuck to them for three consecutive weeks.
So, I’ll be in celebration mode this time next week. And if I haven’t lost a stone, there’ll be hell to pay.
After coming home from my weigh-in, I entered another zone of fear – the kitchen. The boys were on day one of a two-day clean-up. There’s an inspection coming up on Thursday and so everything needs to be spick and span.
They emptied the kitchen bin. Into four giant black refuse sacks. They seriously debated throwing away the bin itself and buying a new one that didn’t smell so bad and that would hold more rubbish. Because that’s what our kitchen needs – more rubbish. They tried to scrub the gunge off the wall above the bins. They tried to clean the inside of the recycling boxes (which have a number of life-forms growing inside) with a mop. We discovered that one of the recycling boxes actually belonged to one of the boys, and that he had brought up his crockery and cutlery to Dublin in it. You can be sure that he won’t be taking anything back in it. Except possibly the body of whatever it is that died inside it.
Another of the boys was washing dishes. A lot of dishes. He came out and showed us the tea towel. It looked like a soiled nappy, that had been used on both sides, by a baby with a very gruesome disease. Luckily, he didn’t have to continue using it. Another of the boys produced a different tea towel. I expressed a bit of scepticism about it. In my limited experience of that kitchen, there has never been a clean tea towel in it. But he assured me that this tea towel was perfectly safe, as he had retrieved it from under his bed just the previous day.
Thank goodness for that.