Joining the swim team turned out to be the best decision of Danny’s life.
But it didn’t start out that way.
After the first practise, he had muttered to himself the entire walk home, wet, cold and humiliated. Why the fuck had he decided this would be a good idea?
Oh, yeah, that’s right; his father. ‘Join a sport! Get that body in shape! You know your old man was star quarterback, don’t ya?’
‘Yeah, dad, I know,” Danny would sigh, usually pushing his food around his plate. Then Dan Senior would launch into tales of his former glory while everyone at the table pretended to listen.
Now, the swim team wasn’t exactly the sport his dad was thinking about when he had told Danny to get involved, but Danny was already expecting that. Still, he would take whatever he would get from his youngest son. Danny had never shown the same interest his brothers had in sports, which left Dan in a bit of a pickle in how to relate to his son. He tried to get him to help fix up an old car, figuring it was something the both of them could just pick up as they went along. But that old red Mazda still sat in the driveway, neglected and if he was being honest with himself, probably never going to run again unless one of his older boys took an interest in it. He worried about the shy, quiet boy (not that he would ever admit that; his pride, ya know), but he simply had no way to start up a conversation. If only Betty was still alive to help him out with raising the kids. Gone too young, she was. She would know exactly what to say to Danny.
Seizing the opportunity, Dan was waiting, trying to appear to be casually watching the news, when Danny walked in the door. “Danny boy, how did try-outs go?” he asked enthusiastically. He pulled his lumbering body off the couch, his blue eyes sparkling with excitement to finally be able to talk to his son about something.
Danny gave him a look, flat lipped and unimpressed. “Horrible, dad. Can I just go take a shower before you interrogate me?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Ah, well, alright then, son,” Dan replied, his enthusiasm quickly replaced by disappointment. “Go ahead.” He turned around and dropped himself back onto the couch, staring blankly at the screen.
Danny sighed in irritation, before walking over in front of his dad. He pushed a couple empty beer cans off the coffee table and sat down. “The couch’s name is Chris Kracken-something. I think it’s German. As far as I can tell, he’s a real SOB and none of the other guys like him. Speaking of other guys, there was only about 5. So, even though I sucked compared to them, I’m probably still gonna be allowed on the team because there’s a mandatory minimum of 8. The entire time the couch was bitching about how people don’t ‘appreciate the art of swimming’,” he made an exaggerated face while saying this, “and how we’ll need two more guys. Oh, and I learned we have to wear fucking speedos which shows your junk to everybody and the water is colder than a snowman’s tits. So, don’t know if I wanna go back,” he spouted off. He had originally only planned to tell his dad the bare minimum to satisfy the old man’s curiosity, but his frustration about the whole thing got the better than him.
Dan just sat back, listening and grinning. “So ya don’t enjoy it, huh? Well, ya know football try-outs are still happening next week.”
Danny rolled his eyes, “Dad, I’m not playing football. I’ve told you this a billion times. Fuck, I’d rather wear a speedo and look like I’ve got a tiny dick than get manhandled by a bunch of guys three times the size of me.” He stood up, not wanting to have this discussion again. “Gonna take a shower. What’s for dinner?”
“Mike’s picking up pizza,” Dan replied, staring after his son as he left the room. Yeah, Danny was smaller than all the other guys, but that would change when he started working out every day with the team, get motivated and start to build some muscles. Running around all day would make him eat more, too.
As he stood under the boiling water, allowing it to raise his body temperature to a more comfortable level, he thought back on the day. The other swimmers had beat him by full minutes, none of this ‘fix your time by a couple seconds’ bullshit you see in lifetime movies. Then this one guy, Jason, had been a fucking douche about it, saying they would be better off as a blow-up doll for a teammate. But then...then this other guy (Danny didn’t catch his name), had stood up for him. Well, kind of. He asked Jason if he would be willing to sacrifice his for the team then. The other guys laughed and Jason got all bitchy about it, like a fucking whiner. But the smile the other guy sent him as he walked into the change room made him think it had been for his benefit.
Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.