Monday, January 25, 2010

in the beginning, God created mongrels

I will never forget it; I was 12 and it was the South-West Queensland primary school swimming trials. Back in those days I trained just about every day. I was my club swimming champion and bound, so I thought, for swimming glory akin to the like of Dawn Fraser or that other lady with the really big man-shoulders... Anyway, I was waiting in the marshalling area and was about to go up to slug it out for a spot in the regional team in my signature race, the 200m individual medley (note: in retrospect, it was probably only my signature race because nobody else in my swimming club would compete in it - ipso facto MY signature race). For those of you who don't know swimming or... well, sport or anything more physical than flicking through a delivery guide for your local indian restaurant, a medley involves swimming 50 m of all four strokes - backstroke, butterfly, breastroke and freestyle. It's epic when you're 12. And also when your 28.

So, back to the rant/story. My heat is called up and the 8 girls from all over southwest queensland move out into the heat of the day, tip-toeing over the hot concrete, to stand behind their start blocks. I was in lane 6 which was great (note also to fat couch potatoes: NOBODY ever wins from outside lanes ie 1 or 8) and I nervously stood sussing out my competition... I'm thinking things like "hmmm... she's got gross togs (read: qld for swimming costume)", clearly highly focused and ready to kill. The announcer begins reading out the names of the competitors lane by lane... "lane 4 Megan Cross" and I immediately recalled that I'd played netball against her on a chilly Saturday morning in Surat the winter before. Still, highly focused and even more ready to kill. "lane 5 Cheryl Tait"/Gross togs girl and I'm just so, so ready to take this heat!! "lane 6 Danielle Mongrel"... So, ready...
Wait. What? What did he call me?
Now, I don't know if you've ever been 12 years old but I can tell you at that moment it took every ounce of strength I had to not burst into noisy, snotty tears. The only thing that stopped me was the thought of having to run down the 50m pool to the change room in front of everyone IN MY TOGS while blubbering... yep, I had to suck it up. But I knew right then that every single pair of eyes was focused on me, Danielle, that poor girl called "mongrel", how unfortunate, isn't it a shame, wouldn't she cop it at school, Danielle bloody Mongrel.
So I came 3rd. Not enough to get into the final or make the regional swim team. The very public name/shame incident just mortified me to the point of sinking like a lead block the second I hit the water. I felt like every time I rolled my head to breathe, I could hear the slight repeated in the murmur of the crowd "mongrel... blub, glub, glub... mongrel"

So now you know... now you know why I've named my blog this - so you can all gossip about it... and every time I hear a tram rumble by I'll be able to hear the passengers whisper "mongrel... screeeeech... mongrel". Yeah, I'm an egocentric sucker for punishment.

PS I've never written a "blog" before so if this isn't write and it's crap, I apologise. Please don't read it anymore. Thanks

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