Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fat Cow

I went swimming today, for the first time for about three weeks, and I loved it.  I always love swimming, except for that one time.

That one time was about twenty-two years ago.  We were staying in a cottage in the Lake District and the owners had done some kind of deal with a nearby hotel so that the people staying in the cottage could use the swimming pool.

I had Olli - who was then a baby of about eighteen months - with me, and my mother, and the Communist - I don't think Stephen was swimming that day.

When Olli was ready to get out of the pool, my mother kindly looked after him so that I could swim on my own for little while longer.

When I finally came out of the pool, there was a mother and a little boy - age four or five - in the changing room.  It was one of those open changing rooms with no curtains on the cubicles.

The little boy looked at me.

"Fat cow," he said.

Now then, okay, I'd recently had a baby and had put on a bit of weight but I wasn't THAT big.  I was about a size eighteen.  But because I had been slimmer than that before my pregnancy, I was definitely sensitive about my weight, especially when trying to get changed in an open changing room with this child staring at me.

"Fat cow," he repeated.

So I waited for his mother to say something: to reprimand him or simply to scoop him up and take him out of there, with an apology to me on the way.  If that were my child, I thought, I would want the ground to swallow me up.

She said nothing.  She continued to dry herself.  The little boy was already dried and dressed.

"Fat cow," said the little boy, again.  "Look at the size of that.  Fat cow, eh?  Fat lazy cow.  Why's she out, looking like that?  Fat cow."

The mother continued to get dressed, and to say nothing.

I didn't speak either.  I was mortified.  I got dressed as fast as possible, fled the changing room and kept the whole incident to myself, for years and years and years.

This afternoon I told my brother about it.  Why on earth would a child of that age say something like that?  Where had he heard those words?  Why did the mother remain silent?

Although I found the whole incident very creepy, and it haunted me for years, I don't blame the boy.  Something deeply unpleasant was going on in that child's family, I'm sure.

The boy will now be in his late twenties.  I find myself wondering where he is now, and how he turned out, and what happened to him, and what happened to his mother.


7 Comments:

Blogger Jennyta said...

Incredible that the mother didn't do anything about it, Daphne. As you say, there must have been something not right going on there.

7:40 pm  
Blogger Helsie said...

How bizare! If his mother was getting changed too perhaps he was talking about her ?

10:28 pm  
Blogger Daphne Franks said...

Jennyta - - yes, indeed. The boy was far too young to even know the expressions he used.
Helsie - no, he was most definitely talking to his mother about me!

10:45 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

Isn't life odd? Those unpleasant moments have lived with you for so long and that horrid brat with his stupid mother have probably never given the incident a moment's thought. You and I are very similar in this respect. Though it is illogical, there are many trivial moments that I have stored for years and from time to time will habitually review them.

11:41 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to have a neighbor whose boy was just as horrible. I wonder about him sometimes, but mostly just hope someone has put him in his place a time or two so he'll become a decent human being.

His mother probably didn't correct him because it's something he learned from her, unfortunately (IMO).

1:18 am  
Blogger Katherine said...

Little rotter. I hope he's nicer now.

(Thinks to self: I must be nicer to YP)

6:35 am  
Blogger Jay said...

Wow. I must admit, I'd have had to say something, even if only (in a Margaret Rutherford voice), 'I BEG your pardon?'

If it scared him to have a stranger stare at him appalled and actually challenge him, so much the better, if his mother is not willing to say anything.

I imagine that he has heard someone say this sort of thing, repeatedly, and probably to the accompaniment of much laughter. My guess is probably his father. Poor kid.

10:23 pm  

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