I’ve discovered yet another means to spark fury in the disgruntled masses: Wearing a Speedo in public.
On the scorching afternoon of the Fourth of July just passed, I strapped on my tight swimwear and walked two blocks to the cool waters of the Deschutes River. My friends and I often spend time at a tucked away swimming hole near Columbia Park. The highlight of the swimming hole is a large boulder nestled near the middle of the river, some 20 yards from the bank.
It was at the boulder where I discovered how mad most people truly are. Bukowski was right, there is enough treachery, hatred, violence, absurdity in the average human being to supply any given army on any given day. A friend and I swam to the boulder and took post for 20 some minutes. We were both wearing Speedos. After all, it was hovering near 90 degrees outside and the great Speedo offers plenty of breathing room for the body.
While stationed on the rock, we would occasionally stand up to help facilitate the tanning process and let the warm sun dry the water from our flesh. This is when the tormenting began. Mobs of floaters, tubers and swimmers moved past us that afternoon. In the 20 minutes, at least 200 people floated past, most of them at close range. Some of them hated us. Passionately.
People, most of them young men with short hair and athletic frames, couldn’t resist demeaning us in our speedo glory.
“Put some clothes on!”
“What kind of drugs are you on?”
“Did you lose a bet?”
This one guy, a muscle-laced brute of about 20 years, got really tense about our swimwear. He was floating with a mix of seven other people, three dudes and four girls. I saw the raw anger in his eyes as their vessel crept closer to our boulder. His shoulders got real tight and his arms started to shake with tension. His pupils got smaller the closer they got.
Finally, he spoke. Loudly.
We stared at the punk. He looked right back at us. There was nothing more to say, really. This guy, this desperate soul who likely had consumed lots of beer, never once thought outside of the main nerve of his brain and hated his job, had made his own conclusions about the scene. Two young guys standing on a rock in the river during a hot day wearing Speedos must be gay. Messed up minds from drugs and homosexuality exploits.
As the kid and his party slowly floated past, I turned to take one last look in their direction. The same kid was giving us the finger. And all we had done was stand there silently.
It was so strange standing on that rock for 20 minutes. It seemed to blow people’s minds that two guys would station themselves on a boulder in the middle of a waterway wearing wet Speedos. The truth is there’s nothing wrong with wearing whatever you choose, whenever you feel compelled to wear it. On a day that was supposed to be all about celebrating freedom, it was a drag to get bashed for living free. For trying to get out and have some good old American fun.
I don’t blame the people who tormented us for taking a second look in our direction. Hell, we looked great up on that rock. What troubles me is that people instantly linked our outfits with homosexuality and drugs. It offers my mind little hope for the future. For freedom. For much at all.
But there’s no way on Earth it’s going to stop me from wearing my Speedo.