The Big Swim Test

"Good luck," she said, re-entering traffic and waving from her car.

"Hmpppphhhh fuggan!" Came my response. I did not want to be here and I did not want to be doing this. And it wasn't because I was going to be late for work. I'm a public servant, my care factor for being timely is pretty low. And it wasn't because I had a spilled coffee on my pants on the way, even though that irritated me a fair bit. And it wasn't because my wife thought it would be nice to keep me standing in the rain while she had some last minute words of wisdom. And it wasn't even being forced to listen to the ignorant rednecks phoning in on talkback radio, moaning on about shit that none of them knew anything about. No! It was something much worse.

Leaning against the wall, hands in pockets, headphones jutting out of my ears, I soon realised that I was the only male in the elevator. And by the time we reached the third floor, I realised that the five women glaring menacingly at me were all pregnant. Quick on the uptake you see. The elevator slowed to a halt, the delightful muzak interrupted by a gentle female voice announcing that we're on the fourth floor. The door opened and the mass of pregnant ladies shuffled out of the lift single file, tenderising the soft bits of my body (of which there are many), with their elbows.

The pregnant women waddled in unison down a corridor to the left. Nursing my wounds, I stumbled into an empty nightmare of white, and managed to prop my body up against a reception cubicle. A voice called to me from beyond a small opening.

"Can I help you sir?" It asked pleasantly. Some chewable morphine and a pint would be be a great help, thanks.

"Ermmm..."I felt ashamed. Embarrassed. Like you do when you buy condoms for the first time. What the hell was I supposed to say? I delved into my pocket and retrieved a referral letter. I studied it closely, trying to figure out what was the root of my fears. I drew a blank. Actually, that was it really wasn't it. Mustering up whatever scrap of dignity I had left in me, I unravelled the paper and prepared myself for the inevitable. "I need to do this," I sighed, handing the voice the creased piece of paper.

"Hmmm," the voice behind the glass said thoughtfully. "Maureen, I have a mister Buck-oh-vick here for a nine thirty appointment," it called out to, well, Maureen apparently.

"Bug-oh-bitch? What's it for?" came a muffled screech in reply. I looked around nervously, the once empty waiting area had somehow populated itself in the last minute or two.

"He needs to provide a sample," said the voice, still sweet and gentle and calm. My hopes hinged on this voice. It seemed to appreciate the trauma I was experiencing.

"A sample? What kind?" asked Maureen, her voice ringing out across the waiting room, perking the interest of everyone seated there. Jesus, where did you all come from? You're like cells dividing exponentially.

"What know what kind." Please don't say it.

"Oh right! He wants to find out if he's shooting blanks or not." Thanks Maureen. Thanks a bunch.

"Mr Boogie-ditch, take this," the voice suggested, handing me a small plastic specimen container and a sheet of paper. "Go down the corridor and go into the first door on your right. Fill the container, close it and leave it in the room. Then fill out your details on the form and bring it back to me." I uttered a thank you and followed her directions, walking through a chorus of pitying looks and whispering.

The light took a while to come on. Another one of those god-damned fluorescent numbers. It's constant buzzing and flickering giving the moment a suitable level of seediness. The room itself was sterile. Surely a bad omen? It had some dull colourless prints scattered about it's grey-white walls, an uncomfortable looking single bed with a worn, eighties style blue-green quilt cover draped over it and a non-de script, single drawer bedside table next to it.

What's in that drawer?

Taking my jacket off, I sat down, the bed sucking me into it like a beanbag with only handful of beans inside. I sighed and opened the drawer. Inside was a pen and a not so glossy magazine. It read Playboy, June 1984. The tool to help me with mine? Picking it up, I noticed it was heavier than it should be and had that rippling effect that paper gets when it has absorbed too much liquid. Yup. That's what I thought too. The cover showed an attractive blonde woman with hair that rivalled Don King's.

I flicked through the magazine, well, the portions of it that weren't moulded together over time and by...ermm...a binding agent, and marvelled out how photography in the eighties had a much softer edge than now. The light above flickered and hissed menacingly for me to get on with it, so I dropped my pa....

...and wiping the sweat from my brow, I hoped that there was more in the canister than not.

"Are you alright in there?" the voice from behind the glass, now from behind the door, asked concerned. Shit! What the hell do I do with that bit? I hastily closed the magazine, shoved it back into the drawer and made a futile attempt at straightening myself up.

"Yeah, just filling out the form," I lied, panting and searching frantically for the paper she handed me earlier. I spied it laying face down on the floor. Picking it up, I noticed a small damp patch in the top corner and shuddered. Grabbing the pen from the drawer, I filled out the form, careful to not let my hand touch the paper, snatched up my jacket and opened the door. Standing before me was a short, attractive woman in her forties who simply smiled at me and pointed at the room. I looked at her incredulously, the sweat still beading on my forehead.

"Just leave the container in there Mr Vukovic," Hey hey! Finally, she got my name right! "We'll grab it later," she said softly, still smiling. Despite everything, I took comfort from her demeanour and smiling a stupid grin back, I apologised, more for the mess inside than for anything else, left the specimen container on the bedside table and left, relieved. I hurried past the huddled women, careful not to make eye contact and hoped to god that enough of my boys survived to take the test.