These hands, they were made to...
I think I have mentioned André Guindon a few times in this blog. In addition to being my friend for some 27 years (an achievement in anyone's book), he is an unbelievably talented sculptor, a specialist in international development, a committed altruist, and a gifted story teller.
So, it is always a pleasure to catch up over lunch, which since the permanent closure of the Persian place seems to have shifted equally permanently to Sanguiccio on Preston.
This time conversation ranged from Québec separation, the self-evident failings of the current provincial government and the inherent impossibility of banning all religious symbols from public places to my upcoming trip to Spain, his very recent rediscovery (aged 70+) of swimming (following a long period of not swimming), and a subsequent discovery that at 70+ people talk to you more slowly and carefully than they do when you are, say, not 70+.
This particular conversation took place in the swimming baths. André, who is recovering from a bout of osteoarthritis (je compatis, mon ami, je compatis) was making his way gingerly into the baths when an attendant rushed over and said "are you OK, do you need some help? It is very busy today, are you sure you can manage?"
The worst thing, said he, was that he was in such a state of shock at having been spoken to like a geriatric dolt that he looked up at her blankly (from his position on the lowest rung of the ladder getting into the water). The attendant must have taken the slowness of reaction as a sign that not only was this a person of Very Great Age, but also, most definitely, a Person Who Needed Special Help who was perhaps on day release from an adjacent institution.
So in she jumped, carefully helping him down from the last rung, on which he was stood, mouth open, astounded at the events unfurling around him. "I'll swim alongside you," she offered.
He demurred, eventually finding his tongue and fluency, and managed to explain that he was fine and was just recovering from a bad knee. He then made his way up the busy swimming lane, before having to stop because of a fit of giggles. This, he felt, possibly confirmed the woman's initial diagnosis.
"Tell me," he said. "Do I really look as if I need special help?"
I am a good enough friend to never respond to questions like that.