When it feels like I’m not keeping my head above water I get this overwhelming urge to go swimming.
I may have misled you in past blog posts about what I mean by “swimming”. I can’t swim. My parents sent me for endless lessons as a kid and they just didn’t stick. The pinnacle of my aquatic achievements was learning to dog paddle five metres.
So, when I say I had the overwhelming urge to go swimming, I meant I wanted to jump around in the waves and hopefully avoid drowning.
I asked the kids to come with me to the beach, but they weren’t in the mood. So I almost stayed home, because I feel guilty about leaving them on our weekends together. But I needed the ocean too badly.
It’s a 40-minute trip to my favourite beach. The youngest was already sending “sad face” emojis asking when I was coming home after an hour.
So I was a bit on edge. But the beach was GLORIOUS. The water was warm and clear and the waves were just right. My soul lapped it up. DD reckons it was the swim of the season.
Then I raced home to frantically cook dinner, which the kids hated. Garlic prawn pasta – what’s not to like? Everything, obviously.
After dinner, I sweet talked them into watching Ghost with me. It’s been sitting in cellophane for about a year since I spotted it on sale at JB Hi-Fi. The kids were super keen not to see it, but grudgingly sat on the couch with me. They kept threatening to watch something else on their phones, but both ended up sticking with it until the end.
It was pretty good actually, though slightly ruined by the youngest being allergic to the couch and coming out in hives halfway through. (This has happened a few times now, I may need to get to the bottom of why.)
After Ghost ended, I belatedly realised it was Mardi Gras night after seeing this post on Facebook:
Mardi Gras felt very far from my little world. Especially after I became enraged by another post in my suburb’s closed Facebook group. It was about girls at our local primary school successfully campaigning to wear shorts rather than dresses to school.
Some of the comments! Oh my lord!
I was particularly cranky with the woman who commented without even reading the article. People who comment after just seeing the headline and caption DO MY HEAD IN.
I was sharply reminded that I live smack bang in the middle of conservative-ville when one woman said: “I am so proud to see my granddaughter in her school uniform. Beautiful dress, blazer etc, kilt in the winter. Would not like her in the sports uniform every day. Somehow not prestigious.”
Because going to school is all about prestige, right?
Anyways, on a more positive note, I was also reminded on Saturday night of that moment in my ancient past when I was a Dyke on a Bike in the Mardi Gras parade … that’s me in the red circle …
It was an assignment for Cosmopolitan magazine, in which I noted: “It’s hard to describe the feeling of straddling a Suzuki and coasting down Oxford Street in the 1998 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade, as 750,000 people frantically wave and scream encouragement. At first it’s completely exhilarating – your chest tightens with emotion and a lump swells in your throat. Then your jaw starts to ache from smiling so much. You begin to feel like Sally Field on Oscar night: you like me, you really like me!
“Then it hits you – how much you’re missing out on. You realise how incredible it must be to be a lesbian and have so many people supporting you. And you feel like a fraud. You want the crowd to stop being so nice to you because you don’t deserve it. You’re just a journalist from Cosmo who’s writing a story. Even though you’re pretending to be a Dyke on a Bike (DOB) for a day, you’ll never really know what it’s like. But, if it feels this good to just be a Straight Girl on a Bike, it must be awesome.”
That was around 18 years ago. I noted back then: “I think it’s a measure of how far Australia (or at least my family) has come, that my mother was excited rather than horrified to hear I was taking part in the Mardi Gras parade. And that my grandmother taped the broadcast of the event so she could freeze-frame me for posterity.”
So, what do you wear to be a Dyke On A Bike? I went with black jeans and a sheer-ish singlet – with no bra. Oooo-ah! Ah, those were the days – pre-kids I was a pert B cup and could still go braless in a T-shirt when I was 35. Sigh!
As part of the story, I interviewed a few of the women pre-parade about why they loved motorcycles.
“There’s the thrill of having something big and throbbing between your legs,” said one.
(I’m wondering retrospectively if she was messing with me …)
Then I approached one of the ‘Babes on the Back’ to get a passenger’s point of view. “The vibrations that go up your legs from the foot pedals … mmmm, they feel really great,” leather-clad Nic said with a lascivious grin.
As for how straddling that big machine felt for me … painful. Getting my leg over a big bike turned out to be much harder than it looked and I strained a few groin muscles in the process.
Aaaand then I had to hop off again … because I’d mounted prematurely before my designated Dyke had turned her bike around …
But I had the most incredible, unforgettable night.
And I hope everyone who was either in the parade or watching it from the sidelines on Saturday night did too!
Song of the day: Jackson Five “Can you feel it?”