My wife and I have worked at an American school in Brazil for a year. Before this, we worked at an international school in Colombia. The following is, by no stretch of the imagination, my most outrageous experience:
In early April, we were treated to a day at ASBAC, a local social club by the lake in Brasília. Restaurants, bars, tennis courts, workout facilities, six pools. While my wife and her friends relaxed by the lake, cradling their Kindles, I was going to swim.
Swimming at ASBAC (and many social/athletic clubs) requires a medical exam performed by a 20-something in an OR jacket. I went in for the test, showed him my hands, my feet, and spun around. I passed this test. The following question floored me: “Onde fica sua sunga (where is your Speedo suit)?” I was not about to prance around a family club in a Speedo. In the U.S. we call guys that haunt pools in Speedos pedophiles.
This was unacceptable. I hadn’t swum in months, and I wasn’t going to swim today. Vanessa, my wife, saw me, and urged by her friends, offered to “switch bottoms” with me. Her friend said, “Switching bottoms is true love,” with the kind of elegant irony that needs a certain tone.
I said, channeling Amy Winehouse, “No, no, no.” But then I had to swim, and I had the pressure of three women. In a moment Nessa and I had switched swimming bottoms. I was wearing a bikini and calling it a sunga.
I wrapped the sarong around my waist – the one Jeffrey brought back from Africa – and headed back to the medico. He checked my hands, my wrists, I spun around, and then he asked to see my sunga. And I slowly unwrapped myself and hid my face, literally, in my hands.
The orderly said – gripping his laughter and preparing stories for his friends – “Don’t tank off your canga until you get to the pool.”
So I went, ripped off my sarong and jumped in the pool in a swift, unified, elegant, Louganis-style fling-and-dive. When I was finished I imagined, or thought I imagined, that all the pool guards were looking up at me like erect meerkats and laughing.
I went back down to the lake, where the ladies were waiting. Nessa refused to give me back my trunks because she rightly didn’t want her bottoms back.
So there I was. In nothing but a canga, which I folded into a kind of loincloth diaper, I ordered a Fanta, and sat in the shade.