Narrow Escapepublished: 2009-06-07
I am reading a writer’s diary. At one stage he describes a narrow escape he experienced and how everyone has them all the time, without necessarily knowing it. I wondered whether I’d had any.
Instantly, an image sprung to mind. It was a memory I never knew I had.
Lago de Garda, 16 years old. My high school best-friend and I spent entire days hanging around on a pebblestone beach. We stuck firmly to the exact same place, every single day. Italian friends came and went during the course of the day. Talks, laughter, food, drinking and swimming. Kissing too. Somehow, I remember my bikini. I loved that bikini, it was wavy along the edges. It made me feel really grown up and sexy. I had died my hair blond with peroxide.
There was this one guy, someone’s cousin I believe. During his birth, the umbilical cord got tied around his neck so he suffered oxygen loss. He was big and luggish, extremely physical. He scared me. My best-friend knew this and always kept an eye on me whenever that guy was around. So when he pushed me in the water and jumped after me, hollering he’d rescue the damsel in distress, she also did. He pushed both of us under. I have no idea how, but he did. I remember scrambling. But it was in slow motion because of the water. I desperately searched for a leg or arm or something, anything to pull myself up by. I started snorting water. I then grabbed his big, fat neck and squeezed it as hard as I could, pushing my nails into his skin. He loosened his grip. I managed to push my nose and mouth above water level. Only barely, because my body was heavy. He was still pulling me down. I was about to go under again, but I hadn’t had enough time to fill my lungs with enough air. I turned to look for my best-friend. She was hanging on to his shoulders producing big loud whoop-whoops while emptying her lungs. She then smacked him over the head, which made me laugh and him cry.
“I grabbed him by the balls,” she said later.
“I by the neck.”
The great thing about friendship is you never doubt eachothers’ stories. Even when what the rest of the world sees is simply two teens splashing around in water and teasing some demented lug.