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Skinny Dipper

by Mickey 

Posted: 23 September 2016
Word Count: 563
Summary: This story is absolutely true and happened to me in 1974

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I saw her in a disco bar
- besotted at first sight!
and managed to get introduced
one cold and wintry night.

Her mate said “She’s just right for you,
so don’t give up just yet.
She never shows her feelings
for a bloke that she’s just met"

So I hung in there doggedly
for two more weeks or three.
But, tho’ we used to get on well,
she never fancied me.

Then, one night - it was freezing cold -
her mate proposed a tactic bold.
She said “We ought to take a trip,
to Brighton for a midnight dip?”

So, being full of Light and Mild,
and gagging for this Heaven-Child,
I said “Let’s do it! – I agree!”
(it was warm inside the pub you see)

And, being now extremely fond,
of this delightful, bubbly, blonde,
I hoped I might see what she wears
beneath her bum-tight trendy flares.

Fair ladies are not won we’re told,
by fella’s with faint hearts.
But outside in the bitter cold,
was where reality starts!

We got into her mate’s small car,
and headed for the coast afar.
The beer had worn off and I knew,
I’d bit off more than I could chew!
Sober now, with icy stare,
we reached the said resort.
I stripped down to my underwear,
(some garish Boxer shorts)

I thought, “If I’m her heart to win,
I’ll have to throw myself right in!”
And so, just east of Palace Pier,
I tried to overcome my fear.

I ran full-pelt. I dare not stop,
until the Channel reached the top
of my poor weedy, white, bare chest,
(at least I hadn’t worn my vest!)

And as I stood there tremb-er-ling,
my nuts began to freeze.
While she had only ventured in,
to halfway up her knees!

The image of Burt Lancaster,
frolicking in the foam
with Deborah Kerr, seemed oh so far
(I wished I’d stayed at home!)

No surf-washed kisses, heavy sighs,
my manhood shrank to half its size,
and now resembled I suspect,
a tortoise in a polo-neck!

The heart she’d won I found was now
in cardiac arrest.
I staggered out a wrinkled wreck –
I’d feebly failed the test.

My confidence hit its lowest ebb.
I’d never be her Captain Webb
with all my dignity now gone.
We never met from that night on.
I wrote ‘Skinny Dipper’ in 2003 and, by a strange coincidence, discovered the object of my youthful desire the following year through the internet and sent her a copy.  She replied that the eventful evening all those years ago had figured high on her repertoire of anecdotes over the years but that she could never recall who she was with!  We met for a coffee and the whole experience reminded me of John Betjeman’s ‘In a Bath Teashop’ and it inspired this:
Friends Reunited
What an unlikely combination:
You with your morning’s shopping
in plastic bags at your feet,
and me with my heart in my mouth.
It’s been thirty years since our last meet -
parallel lives in different directions.
This one-time, would-be Valentino
moving carefully to avoid old aches,
watching you drink your cappuccino
and wondering if I should have
ordered cakes?
Desperately seeking common ground
and hoping that it doesn’t rain.
My coat of memories in the Lost and Found.
I wonder…..shall we meet again?
(We never did)

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Comments by other Members

James Graham at 19:36 on 25 September 2016  Report this post
Hi Mike – I’ll just do ‘Skinny Dipping’ meantime (not literally) and come back to you with a comment on the second poem. Maybe have a look at the Betjeman you mention.
You’re a virtuoso rhymer! Writing literary comments on a funny poem like this always seems pedantic, but I notice that after verse 3, as the action gets more lively, you change from ABAB rhyme to AABB. As Chaucer and many other poets knew, rhyming in couplets helps to up the excitement. Ah, but the excitement wanes as the alcohol wears off, so in verse 9 you revert to ABAB. Just briefly, though, because the action moves up a gear again, i.e. running full pelt into the Channel. When you wrote it, did you change the rhyme schemes consciously? It’s actually a good example of form reflecting content.
Now, as ‘site expert’ I’m supposed to point out little faults and blemishes. I know you wrote this a long time ago, but I’ll do this anyway. Actually there are very few faults that bother me, but the rhythm of this line stumbles a bit, to my ear.
The beer had worn off and I knew
Just a ‘now’ would sort it.
The beer had worn off and now I knew
I’d bit off more than I could chew!
The only other bit of nit-picking I can do is: drop the commas after ‘I hoped I might see what she wears’ and ‘frolicking in the foam’. I don’t know if you’d want to publish this poem, but I imagine you would want to keep it, so it might as well be 99.9% perfect.
It’s a highly entertaining story. The moral is: there are many ways to win the heart of a lady, but throwing yourself into the ice-cold English Channel isn’t one of them! More seriously, it’s a very amusing poem on the theme of the follies of youth. The background story of your reunion years later is quite touching, and says a lot about maturity looking back on youth. But more of that to follow.

Mickey at 22:50 on 25 September 2016  Report this post
Hi James,
Thank you for your very complimentary observations.  I'm glad that the contrast between the two pieces were apparent.  As I said, the second piece was written with Betjeman's poem in mind.  I've just updated my profile where i reiterate that I don't consider myself a serious poet.  I think this is proven by yours (and others in the past) comparing my ABAB or AABB and asking if my jumpimg between the two has been intended - I don't even notice!! I just write what sounds right to me.  I've just applied to join the Flash Poetry group as well.  Pleased to be back although the only members I recognise from before are Vyonne and Elsie - has Joanie left?


AlanRain at 22:58 on 25 September 2016  Report this post

I just write what sounds right to me.

A serious poet can do the right thing by design, or purely by instinct.
My only comment (I broadly agree with James) is that the exclamations are implied, and therefore not necessary. 

James Graham at 14:41 on 26 September 2016  Report this post
You're right about the exclamations, Alan.


James Graham at 19:47 on 26 September 2016  Report this post
You change rhyme scheme without thinking? That’s what I call a natural gift!
‘Friends Reunited’ seems a bit of an anti-climax, but we have to remember that the reunion itself was just that. It could hardly be as upbeat as ‘Skinny Dipper’. Best to see it as a quiet little piece which succeeds in saying something worthwhile about (to quote myself) ‘maturity looking back on youth’.
The older man is there:
moving carefully to avoid old aches
but he’s reliving the old escapade to some extent:
and me with my heart in my mouth
He’s fearfully embarrassed and not a little disoriented:
and wondering if I should have
ordered cakes?
The short line, and the rhyme with 'aches', add a little to the disorientation. Everything’s there that you need to say. Embarrassment come across quite strongly, but most of all the gulf between youth and more advanced age.
Then, at the end, we have the worry about whether it will rain, and this seems quite insignificant  if we think back to the icy cold that didn’t bother the young man too much. Finally you have this outstanding line:
My coat of memories in the Lost and Found
which encapsulates the experience very well.
Yes, a quiet piece – but it does the job you meant it to do.

Mickey at 20:23 on 26 September 2016  Report this post
Thank you James.  I don't want to labour the point, but I really don't think much about what I'm writing other than to find rhymes and construct sentences around them.  I once wrote on an earlier incarnation on WW that I feel a complete fraud compared to the meaningful stuff that other members contribute.  I've just exchanged comments with Vyonne regarding a piece I submitted to Flash Poetry saying much the same.  That said, I find it extraordinary that you can articulate the thoughts and intentions behind what I think just come out of the ether and which are spot on accurate.  Thanks again

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