Saturday, 8 February 2014
The Life Aquatic.
This picture tells you a lot about me.
Not in the way that you might imagine - although I quite like a swim, I'm not what you'd call a regular swimmer, I've never been scuba diving in my life (although it's something I've always wanted to do) and I think the last time I actually I put on a mask and snorkel Jacques Cousteau was probably still bothering the fishes.
No, this particular item tells a story about my outlook on life.
The long suffering Mrs A and I were on one of our wandering around the town expeditions yesterday looking for travel guides (for a bit of a jaunt we have coming up very soon, more of which later), when I spotted it in a charity shop window display (not for sale, mind you. Just for decoration). I mentioned that it might be quite a useful thing for me to acquire, Mrs A pulled the 'what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you?' face, and the saga began.
We had a brief chat in the shop itself, I wanted to ask if they'd sell it to me but Mrs A has a pretty low threshold for public embarrassment and asked me very nicely not to, so I left it alone and we headed off to look at floaty frocks and confusing cardigans.
But the seed had set.
After a bit of discussion we arrived at a quite nice compromise - Mrs A would go and look at Nice Lady Things, whilst I went back to persuade the nice ladies in the charity shop to sell me one of their props. We'd meet up in the pub for a bite to eat. Happy days.
The reality of the conversation in the shop itself was not quite as easy as I had first anticipated however. The nice ladies had been replaced by a nice young chap behind the till, who had to get confirmation from the shop manager that he could sell the thing. Once this had been established he asked me to point it out in the window display so he got the right one.
I didn't say that there was only one mask and snorkel in the display so it'd be pretty bloody hard to make a mistake, but you can bet I thought it quite hard.
I played along and pointed it out to him, at which point the lad looked worried and came out to tell me that he couldn't sell it to me as it was part of the display. This was the point at which I realised he had learning difficulties and began to feel hugely guilty about my earlier thoughts. I pressed on regardless and reminded him that the manager lady had said it was fine to sell.
He reluctantly went back to double check, and once he was satisfied I wasn't trying to pull a fast one went off to get the gear from the window whilst I waited at the counter. It was at this point the situation really started to get away from me.
The chap arrived back at the counter with the mask, snorkel, a cheeery smile and flippers.
I told the lad that I didn't want the fins, just the mask & snorkel, but he was not to be dissuaded from his sale now. Each of my objections was met with a big grin and an "enjoy your purchase" statement. I decided that the best approach was to just shut up and buy the lot. My heart sank when he handed over the bag with half the fins still sticking out.
The thought of wandering across a busy pub on a Friday evening in a Midlands town 100 miles from the sea in the middle of winter with a pair of flippers sticking out of a plastic bag was too much even for me, so I headed out and handed over the flippers to a different charity shop 2 doors down the road. I strode up to the counter confidently and said to the nice old lady, in my best 'this-is-not-weird-in-any-way' tones, "Would you like my flippers?"
She took them off my hands, I breathed a sigh of relief and went to meet the beautiful Mrs A for a beer and a bite to eat, which was all rather nice.
This morning I realised that the mask and snorkel is for a child. Every day's a school day, eh?