One of the first rules of being a teenage boy is that Manliness is next to G-dliness. I grew up beneath the iron fisted tyranny of this law, and I was not alone. It is practically impossible for a teenage boy to walk past a mirror without stopping to repeat this mantra while doing his best impersonation of a Michelangelo sculpture. Even in the animal kingdom I can see this law being observed on a regular basis in the form of the 17 young bulls that are constantly butting heads in attempt to establish their dominance over our small heard.
My teenage neighbors are no exception to this law. It is hard for me to recall a single afternoon spent with 14 year old Alfredo that did not involve some form of bloody knuckles, pushups, arm wrestling, boxing, racing, or some other type of competition. Thus, I was not terribly surprised the other day when Alfredo invited me for a friendly swim. I believe his exact words were, “Vamos a cruzar el rio para ver quien llegara primero.” Which can be roughly translated as, “Lets go swim across the river to see who can get to the other side first.”
After many comments about alligators smelling blood in the water, we had stripped off the majority of our clothes and were swimming with all our strength to see who would be the first to cross the hundred yards of swift currents and deadly wildlife. A small convoy of canoes trailed close behind us in the case of an emergency.
I swam with all the strength I could muster, trying hard to regulate my breathing and push my body through the water with the best possible technique. I managed to maintain a short lead over Alfredo for most of the crossing, but as we got within 20 yards of the finish, I saw a miracle take place. Suddenly Alfredo was swimming faster, and his head was high out of the water! At first I was shocked, until the finger tips of my left hand brushed the sand bar beneath me. Our swim had turned into a foot race. Amidst cries of cheater, and splashes of water, I raced with Alfredo to the muddy banks of the shallow river.
As I collapsed into the canoe, I was satisfied, knowing that I had once again proven that I was manlier than a 14 year old boy. Oh, sweet victory.