The passage of time and onset of aches and pains in my body have made me realise that I am turning into a wimp. True, I have always had nerdy inclinations but they have now been accompanied by full blown wimpishness.
There are key differences between being a nerd and being a wimp. To begin with, I am a perpetual collector of leaflets, knowing that one day the fact that Mrs Edwards will be giving a lecture on Bonsai trees in the Church Hall will be the "must-go" event on a cold November evening. I can live with my nerdishness, particularly as I know nothing about Bonsai trees.
But wimpishness is worse. It is an acknowledgement to those who merely observe you that you have a variable backbone when it comes to life adversities, however big or small.
Take a recent experience I had had holidaying in Croatia with my family. On the first day, my 13-year old daughter and I went to a spot where we were advised we could swim from the rocks at a place known as the "Hole in the Wall".
We found the entrance and walked carefully down the steps carved into the cliff, past the bar clinging to the rock teeming with so many specimens of the beauty of youth that if you consumed the experience, it would give you gas.
The steps continued past a rocky promontory where olive skinned youths dived into the churning sea, emerging from the waters to laugh disdainfully at the risk they had taken and receiving gazes of adoration from those around. I, on the other hand was more concerned about the rocks hidden in the sea below me, knowing that a life of cakes and ale would cause me to go down further should I copy what they were doing, hitting the rocks which such force as to cause massive internal bleeding, added to when I was rescued and hauled up the cliff face prior to commencing a long stay in hospital.
I continued further to a safer spot to enter the waves, led confidently by my daughter. It was then that disaster struck when I stubbed my toe, proof of the excessive risk we were taking.
Sea level was at a ledge of rock covered by slippery sea greenery located to deter the foolhardy from entering the bluey depths. My fears were confirmed when I saw a hidden ledge of rock beneath me with a similar slipperiness. I knew that if I slid effortlessly into the waves from this spot, I would knock myself unconscious as I hit the ledge, my head shooting back onto the rock behind me, causing me to inhale water and drown as my helpless daughter looked on.
To make matters worse, the effect of the warm sun was to render the sea so cold that when my daughter suggested I get into the sea first as she would feel better if I was in before her, I replied that I could not as it was too cold.
I realised that my catastrophic dive into wimpishness had gone too far and that to save any faint remnants of respect my daughter could still have of me, I had to be brave. I therefore told her that if she went in first, I would come in straight after. It was a precious moment, much like when as a baby, she took her first unaided steps from my helping hands, although this time our roles were reversed.
True to my word, we leapt in together, the sea now red with the blood pulsating from my toe and bobbed around for a time as the constant stream of youth continued to enter the waves from the rocky promontory above, like hungry penguins in search of herring to bring back and regurgitate for their young. I, on the other hand was with my young and knew that regurgitation though likely would be greeted unfavourably by her.
The Adonises with their bellies full of herring timed their return to land to co-incide with the regular pounding of the sea, propelling them back on the rocks in one movement. My daughter and I watched this with a combination of admiration and horror knowing that this was our route home. It had to be said also that we were distinctly lacking in herring.
My daughter emerged successfully first followed by me with the grace of a harpooned whale being landed.
Overall, I hope the experience has confirmed to my daughter that her father is wimpy, but he tries his best. I tried to communicate the same message to a small boy holding a water pistol who stood in the surf as I emerged from the sea on my hands and knees, my feet not being able to tolerate the stony beach beneath my toes. He did not look convinced.
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