Azerbaijan, Tiny Jack Nicholson and Social Shame

In the highly unlikely event that I had been so overcome by joy at Azerbaijan’s victory in last year’s Eurovision Song Contest that I impregnated a lady the next morning, then my baby would be born this week.

That is to say that I’ve been off the cigarettes for nine months this week. An excellent result.

I’ve been almost as good with exercise. My boxing buzz has persisted. I’ve only chickened out of going once in the past 10 days. Mind you, I’m still absolutely terrified every single time. I go through a whole courtroom drama 3 times a week as I walk over to the Sports Centre, with a tiny Jack Nicholson roaring in my ear that “You can’t handle the boxing!”

I’ll tell you this though. I’m getting better at it. I’m still rubbish, but sometimes I look around at the limp-wristed18-year-old girls around me and I feel well hard. Gangster tough.

Swimming hasn’t been quite as good. I missed my last lesson. I’m putting it down to fatigue and overwork. (I had to get up at 7:30 that morning. That has to be against some one of the Geneva Conventions.)

At last week’s lesson, we started on the back stroke. I’ve heard of the back stroke many times. But no one ever told me that you do it on your back.

Why? What would possess anyone to want to do something upside down?

I wouldn’t drive a car upside down. Or walk along a beach on my hands.

If a Mammy bird was teaching her baby bird how to fly and she tried to force the baby bird to fly upside down on its third lesson, then the Mammy bird would rightfully end up in Avian Court. And the baby in Protective Services.

Anyway, I failed utterly at upside down swimming. Back stroke my arse.

When I was in the changing rooms before swimming, as I was about to strip off, I caught the eye of another swimmer. I thought I recognised him. In fact, I thought he was someone who I communicate with quite often. Let’s call him Hephaestus. He’s someone who I met through a close friend, and who is a friend of many of my friends, and who I regularly communicate with on Facebook, but he’s someone who I’ve only seen in the actual flesh once.

We held each other’s gaze for a good 20 seconds. Then it began to get weird. Also, I was running late for my swimming lesson and urgently needed to be substantially less dressed. He didn’t say anything. Neither did I. We just let the tension hang there. I went swimming and failed at backstroke.

I have a very bad record with recognising people. I’m also a social cataclysm in many ways. I very nearly did nothing. But in the end I decided to Facebook him and ask him if I was he with whom I had locked eyes.

I hadn’t received any reply when I was sitting in Bowe’s the next night. I saw a man walk into the bar. It was Hephaestus. Or it looked like him. Or at least it looked like his Facebook profile picture.

Should I approach him? I reviewed the possibilities:

A) Both the guy at the pool and the guy in the pub were Hephaestus.
B) The guy in the pool was Hephaestus. The guy in the pub was a stranger.
C) The guy in the pool was a stranger (with a lingering gaze). The guy in the pub was Hephaestus.
D) The guy in the pool wasn’t Hephaestus. The guy in the pub was the same guy as the guy in the pool and therefore not Hephaestus.
E) The guy in the pool was not Hephaestus. The guy in the pub was not Hephaestus. He was also not the guy who was in the pool who I had thought to be Hephaestus, but was in fact a third man.

If A or C were true, then surely I should approach the guy and say “Hello”, but what if it was B? Or worse, E? Or worst of all D?

(D is worst because this guy would surely remember our long gaze in the changing rooms and if I were to approach him in the pub and “pretend” to know him, when I didn’t, it would be the most embarrassing thing in the world.)

I left the pub, contorted in paroxysms of doubt and social shame.

An hour later Hephaestus Facebooked me. It had been him in the pool. It had also been him in the pub.

I have more to write. There’s diet news. There are exercise decisions. And I’ve started teaching again. But that can all wait until mañana.

Good night.

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