Day seven. Speedos and self-reflection

Words of the Day

Speedo: 1. Informal, short for speedometer 2. Trademark, men’s brief, tight, swimming trunks

Misogynist: a person who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against women

Yep, speedos and misogyny. Buckle up people, shit’s about to get real. But let’s ease into it….

So the travel diary without any travel ends here. I’m writing this from the south of Spain, where my mum recently bought a lovely little holiday home in Quesada, on the Costa Blanca. Quesada is not the most authentic of Spanish retreats; there are more Irish pubs than tapas bars and shop owners greet customers in English, but it’s cheap, cheerful and, most importantly for mum, sunny over 300 days of the year.

After a late flight in I woke up to the sounds of cicadas and chainsaws (next door is doing some landscaping work) and rays of Spanish sunshine piercing the blinds. So this is it, the real start of my journey. Will I find my ‘perfect paradise,’ like the day I sat next to Sarah Slater on the bus to the school playing fields?

I emerged from the poolside room, towel in hand, ready to occupy the prime sunbed location next to the olive tree; as I opened the door and made a few steps in pursuit of my prize, the path to the sunbed was blocked by what could only be an apparition – my Uncle Bill in a pair of speedos.

Uncle Bill

The horror I experienced in that moment was not due to the speedos themselves. I love speedos. I rock speedos. Few men are more comfortable in the garment, or so I thought until I saw Uncle Bill. It was the way he wore them, with such panache and insouciance, like they were an old pair of jeans.

Fashion runs deep in the Jones family. Mum can make anything on her sewing machine, my sister Steph is smashing her career at Alexander McQueen, and I….I have some nice shoes. And, like all fashionistas, Uncle Bill knows how to accessorise. The trainers and hat were clearly on point, but you need to look a little closer to see the true genius of the man.

“Is that a piece of toilet roll on your face, Bill?”
“No, Oliver, it’s a nose protector made from toilet roll, it’s what the Australian cricketers wear.”
And that was that.

 

Will the real OJ please stand up put some shorts on 

Uncle Bill is worthy of a dedicated blog post, but for now I want to talk more about speedos. And firstly let me apologise to team America who use the singular form, speedo. In Britain we wear them as a pair.

With my friends I have become almost synonymous with speedos. Rarely would a pool party go by without me stripping off and showing off in my latest number. Whether it was the poolside supermodel catwalk (I can do male and female) or my snakey-hipped, pelvis-thrusting dance moves, I have never been shy to don some budgie-smugglers and act the fool.

So who is this (cute, sexy) man? Speedos, Lycra and fancy dress seem to have become a part of my DNA in recent years. A cursory flick through my Facebook profile pictures would appear to confirm it.

But why is there hardly a single picture of me in normal clothing? Why am I always showing off and who is this persona I have created? Is it the real me or just some social media derivative? Ok, deep breath, this is the ‘buckle up’ part….

Around 18 months ago I found out that a man who had met me only twice had described me as a misogynist.

The emotion I felt upon hearing this was like the opposite of a mic drop. Horrified.

I do not dislike, despise, or have strong prejudices against women. The two friends who told me about it (one male, one female) vigorously defended my honour in the resulting discussion. However, the man in question was not stupid. He knew what it meant and would not have used it without reason. What had I done or said that could make someone use such a sickening and emotive word to describe me?

The answer was twofold, both in the things I had done and the things I had said.

Had I ever objectified women? Honestly, yes.
Had I ever shown a lack of respect towards women? Another yes.

And in fuelling the fire of my party boy, speedos-wearing, ‘superlad’ persona I was telling stories which reinforced this totally unacceptable behaviour.

The first step is admitting you have a problem and, as you can see, I’m working on changing my story. In the 18 months or so since this happened I have been living closer to the values that are most important to me – respect, honesty, humility – but I’m still a work in progress.

My close friends and family know who I am and how I roll, but I have a way to go before the persona, online and offline, catches up.

For now, here’s a picture of me, and an unknown accomplice (hi Kenny), in Las Vegas in 2009, sporting the original banana hammock. I do not intend to stop wearing my speedos, I just hope to be a better person underneath them.

And on that note I’m overdue some pool time….as I didn’t bring my speedos I will be wearing shorts.

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4 thoughts on “Day seven. Speedos and self-reflection

  1. Read this today and thought of you:
    “I am in competition with no-one. I run my own race. I have no desire to play the game of being better than anyone. I just aim to improve to be better than I was before. That’s me and I am free”.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Day Twelve – Life on the Road (and the Floor) | The Gump Method

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