Saturday night found Cristian and I towelling off after a quick dip in Barton Springs. A handful of other Austinites were there, taking advantage of the free hour before close. The diving board created a steady backdrop of rhythm to a quiet hum of conversation all around. Two kids who looked to be about 12 or 13 came ambling up the sidewalk and stopped to stand at the pool’s edge just in front of us. The water is as cold as it is blue, but the smaller one hesitated for only a moment before leaping in, t-shirt, flip-flops and all.
“That was dumb. He’s going to be cold with no dry shirt,” Cristian said. Two years of teaching middle school has given Cristian an eagle eye for the folly of youth.
The kid bobbed up fast as a cork and swam with choppy desperation for the stairs. He was back out of the water faster than he went in, but that didn’t stop him from shoving and heckling his friend, a giant, handsome lug of a boy. “You haven’t jumped in yet?! You wuss! Jump! Jump, you asshole!”
Before my concious mind was even aware I had made the decision to open my mouth, the words were out. “He hasn’t jumped in yet because the water is really fucking cold.” I said. “Lay off.”
Both kids looked at me in shock. Then the bigger kid looked back at the smaller kid and said, “Yeah, the water’s really fucking cold, asshole,” and cannonballed off the side. The smaller kid leaped after him. Cristian and I turned to leave.
“I can’t believe I just cursed in front of those kids. I didn’t even think about it until the words were out of my mouth,” I said. ”It wasn’t even a conscious choice! I shouldn’t be let out of the house without a muzzle.”
“Really?” Cristian said, “You made me jealous. The cursing is what made that work. If I could curse in the classroom like that I’d get a lot more respect.” He squeezed my arm just above my elbow as we walked out the gate to the car, flip-flops squelching on the pavement. It was 93 degrees at nine forty five at night, and you could see bats flying under the orange glow of the parking lot’s high pressure sodium lights.