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Uncle Patrick and His Azure Speedo

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I saw some kids splashing in the deep end. And nobody else around except some humans who were languishing in the Jacuzzi. Then suddenly a walrus burst out from the center of the pool. A white Chinese walrus with black swimming goggles. I reacted. I was expecting more like a sweet Chinese penguin.




In the eternal Singapore Summer of 2006, I decided to finally conquer the blue demon of mine. My fear of water. So, I got all excited and started looking out for instructors. Unfortunately given that I could only make time after I returned from work – finding an instructor became quite difficult. And then my friend’s aunt suggested I try Patrick – the swimming instructor for most of the kids in their condo (including theirs). I hesitated. I figured that it was very easy to teach kids. Kids are malleable. And strangely fearless. I was a brittle adult - hanging on to my dear fear of life. 

Anyhow I was convinced after a bit and then I called him. He agreed to take me on after he finished with his last child group class. I was happy he was going to give me a one-on-one for a group rate. Anyway I wasn’t going to join the kids. No sir. I wasn’t going to be the loser aunty who crashed in on the kids’ pool party.

Anyway. I went. All clothed in my muslim lady’s swim suit. A bright cobalt blue. Ah, now I know the instant image you guys have. Either a spandex nun’s habit or a deep sea divers’ outfit with a seamless head cap. Scccccraaaaatchhhh. Scratch that image off. Think 80s aerobic suits. Full tights and a lycra t-shirt. Not that strange it would be I thought – because a lot of instructors were donning full suits to prevent chlorine tans. But usually they would pick a sober black or navy blue. But aunty Rabia decided to pick the super-bright blue one. It was just this image I had of myself – all ethereal in a blue suit by the blue sea (a pool would do just as well). Except that I didn’t realize how thunder-striking it was to the eye.

So anyway, I land up at the pool. Internally super-nervous. But also light-headed with excitement. I saw some kids splashing in the deep end. And nobody else around except some humans who were languishing in the Jacuzzi. Then suddenly a walrus burst out from the center of the pool. A white Chinese walrus with black swimming goggles. I reacted. I was expecting more like a sweet Chinese penguin.


“You Raubia?” he walrussed.
me: Ahan
“Hi, I am Patrick”.
me: ummm … okay … if you say so.
“You got my 80 dollars?”
me: Yep I do. Quietly thinking to myself ‘I don’t know if they will be yours yet – Walrus … umm I mean - Patrick

And then we chatted for a couple of minutes. He told me he was 35, an Electrical Engineer by day, and did this for fun and extra cash. Allright. I thought. He can’t be that bad. Seems like one of us. And anyway it was a trial run. Let me trial it out.

So I got into the water, and transformed into one of those kind of girls. You know – the kind who shriek and accompany it with a vertical shooting of the arms like gay magicians? I held on tightly to the rail. What’s that thing? That ladder to get into that pool? Ok that thing’s rail. So I held on and gay magicianed for a while, while Patrick briefed me on the minus one, zero, and one of swimming. And each time the water spooked me I would shriek and he would go “Don’t worry uncle Patrick is here”. He tried to stick to a suave “Pat”, but that didn’t work. And every time he said “Uncle Patrick” I would think “Oh man, that sounds soooo wrong”.

After about ten minutes, I was to take my first head dip into the pool. So I mustered all my courage and submerged my head. Suddenly my ears went “pluggggg”… I was blinking water … I turned my head … water . water..tiles..water..and hovering in the near horizon was something blue. Something very azure. Something very tiny and azure on something very white and Chinese. OMG. The walrus was wearing nothing but a speedo!!!! Then a brown Indian Muslim Walrus burst through the pool. Gasping. Gasspinggg. Gasssspinngggg.

I don’t know what I was expecting. But I wasn’t expecting an itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny blue puckered bikini!!!

I sent a silent apology to God. Sorry Allah, I didn’t know. I was expecting male hijab. A pair of trunks decently strapped on to his legs. I tried my best. See, I am all swathed in blue lycra. Every inch of my normal self has it. Sorry Allah.
Once I was over thaaat fit. I was suddenly like. OMG, doesn’t he teach kids??? That is exactly why I was expecting him to be decently dressed. Sorry peoples. My muslim sensibilities aside – speedos on a kids swimming instructor just doesn’t cut it for me. It doesn’t. It’s WRONG. Especially on someone who says “Don’t worry Uncle Patrick is there.”

There was no way Uncle Patrick was gonna get more than 80 dollars from me. But, I really didn’t want to be impolite. Damning those manners hammered into me, I continued the last part of that lesson - which was floating. I was still so caught up with the whole speedo thing, I didn’t realize how scary floating was going to be until I was actually floating!! Then I prayed fervently to God. Pleaseeee God, please don’t let me sink, because I really don’t want Uncle Patrick to have to rescue me. No no, please let there be maximum distance between me and that blue speedo. That really cant be the last thing I see before I die!!

God was kind. Apparently I have so much buoyancy, it’s hard for me to sink. And I floated on my back, staring at the dark azure sky. I floated….oh..so….peacefully. Oblivious to all the nakedness around me.

Our session ended after that. But when the brown Indian walrus in the blue river rafter suit stepped out of the pool followed by the white Chinese walrus in the azure bikini – the kids stopped splashing around. Even the jacuzzi stirred to review the oddly-matching pair.

Uncle Patrick wasn't too bad, but I didnt see him again. And I never tried to find another instructor cos no one else could possibly float my goat better than the man in the azure speedo.
Uncle Patrick.


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