My wife is many things to me: best friend, coastguard-caller, and alternative shark bait, to start with just a few
My wife is driving me to the beach for my daily swim. Back in December, when I was doing my annual take on whether anything needed changing in my life, I decided that swimming every day would be an excellent New Year’s resolution. I would benefit from being outside every day; from guaranteeing myself a small amount of gentle exercise; apparently, cold water is good for you. Some people in this country even claim the water is sometimes warm! I have yet to experience this.
My wife and I are lucky to live a 200-metre walk from a deep, meandering creek that winds through the bush. Since October, we’ve been jumping and swimming in the creek on most sunny days. Unfortunately, several weeks ago I wound up in the middle of a huge bloom of jellyfish, all their soft little ballish bodies bumping up against me. The anxiety of finding myself in the middle of a smack of jellyfish in deep water, having a panic attack, with the only way out to swim through them, has not left me yet — although I have developed an odd and pervasive interest in jellyfish. The experience has landed me with a not-unexpected fear of the creek: hence my wife driving me to the beach. Luckily, the sea pools on the South Coast are many and beautiful, clear watered and full only with the small, less scary-looking wildlife.
“Just so you know, I won’t be accompanying you into the water today,” my wife tells me as we drive, like he does nearly every day. Most of the time this is eventually revealed to be untrue, so I am fairly undeterred. However, it is raining. I don’t know why rain should be a problem when swimming — you’ll be getting wet anyhow — but for some reason, it does seem to put people off.
“Sure,” I say.
“No,” he says, “I mean it today. I will be staying in the van and reading my book.”
“Didn’t want you to come anyway.”
“I can’t wait to see how this happens in the winter,” he says. “You’ll be coming home shivering and I’ll be there, nice and snug and reading.”
“That’s not true,” I say. “We’ll be in the Hot by then.” I am referring to our big, so far covid-stricken plan of spending winter in Queensland. “More likely I’ll be calling you to say, ‘Help. A crocodile has eaten me, and it’s your fault because you weren’t there to supervise.'”
“What would I possibly have against a crocodile, even if I was there?” he says.
“You could call the coastguard,” I offer.
“What’s the coastguard going to do if you’re being death-rolled by a crocodile? I know why you want me there. Look,” he sighs. “I signed up for trying to persuade you out of stupid ideas. If we were on the edge of a lake full of crocodiles and you insisted on going for a swim, I would try to stop you. But I did not sign up for going in with you as distraction bait.”
“Boring,” I say.