I like to swim in the Pacific. Unfortunately there have been recent crocodile sightings near my favourite playground so swimming there is frowned upon. I mentioned this to one of my Solomon friends who insisted on giving me the advice that (according to him) had worked for generations in his village. A sound “tradition” if you like! He told me that if I was to throw a 20 cent piece into the water prior to swimming, no crocodile would ever harm me. He insisted that it had to be a 20 cent piece, “not a 10 or 50 cent piece…only a 20.”
Knowing my mind, I politely thanked him and continued with my day pondering one question after another as they manifested themselves.
“That’s ridiculous….isn’t it?”
“He did say none of the children in his village were ever taken….coincidence?”
“Did his village have a large jar of 20 cent pieces strategically located at the swimming hole?”
“Was he joking (whilst playing with my life)?”
The most powerful question that developed however was “When were 20 cent pieces introduced to this developing country and how much tradition was actually linked to his claims?”
In the mean time I decided to go for a swim anyhow. Bugger it. A man cannot let fear rule his life, so I went to Kakambona beach, pulled my 20 cent piece from my pocket and threw it in with an eerie “plop”.
As it flew through the air, I knew that this one small action was a mistake. Not because I didn’t believe the tradition; not because I had found out that coins were only introduced in 1977; not even because I knew there were crocs around but because I know that if I doodle on paper, I MUST balance that doodle left to right. I know that if I scratch my left thumb, I MUST scratch the right. I know that if one of my kids pushes the hair on my arms the wrong way I MUST smooth it down the other way (then do the same to the other arm). I cannot rest until it is done. Until now not many people know about my mild yet frustrating OCD affliction. And now? For the rest of my time swimming in Pacific waters, I must precede each plunge with an eerie, yet relatively cheap “plop.”