Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Chipster Uncovered

In the end, I’m glad I struggled to my adult learning class this afternoon. It was one of those funny episodes that can easily cheer up an aging thongman’s week.

Mrs. Rust began the lesson by taking the register. There were twelve us in class this week and mine was the second name to be read out. When she’d finished, Mrs. Rust closed the register and the first thing she did was turn to ask me about the best way to treat a fungal toe infection. What could I say? I had no way to avoid the question and so, in my guise as a chartered manicurist, I tried to answer her the best I could.

I should never have lied last week about what I do for a living. I’m useless at pretending to be something I’m not. Which is perhaps why I nearly gave the game away when I suggested that a cure might involve, as a last remedy, the surgical removal of the infected toe.

‘You’d recommend the amputation of a toe in a case of athlete’s foot?’ she asked, shocked to the last twist of her already grey hair.

‘Oh,’ I said, loudly so the rest of the class could be sure of my authority in this matter, ‘that’s only in the rarest instances. Grown men have been known to lose legs when athlete’s foot has gone untreated for too long.’

Well, she fell silent for a few moments before she started the lesson. I thought I’d got away with my sham but I soon realised that she doubted my story when she announced that we’d be reading the Auden poem which begins ‘At least the secret is out’.

At Last the Secret is Out

At last the secret is out, as it always must come in the end,
The delicious story is ripe to tell to tell to the intimate friend;
Over the tea-cups and into the square the tongues has its desire;

Still waters run deep, my dear, there's never smoke without fire.

Behind the corpse in the reservoir, behind the ghost on the links,
Behind the lady who dances and the man who madly drinks,

Under the look of fatigue the attack of migraine and the sigh

There is always another story, there is more than meets the eye.

For the clear voice suddenly singing, high up in the convent wall,

The scent of the elder bushes, the sporting prints in the hall,
The croquet matches in summer, the handshake, the cough, the kiss,

There is always a wicked secret, a private reason for this.

We silently read the poem a couple of times before we went though it as a class, but it didn’t take long before Mrs. Rust began to ask me some very odd questions.

‘What kind of secret story might be “delicious”, Chip?’

‘Why do you think it’s the lady who dances and the man who drinks, Chip? Wouldn’t it have been a better secret if it were the other way around? Why might a man want to keep it a secret that he likes to dance?’

‘Do men always have a wicked secret, Chip?’

After half an hour of this, it had all became a bit embarrassing and I’m sure the rest of the class were beginning to suspect that some hidden meaning lay behind all these innuendos.

In the end I could take it no longer when she asked: ‘Do you think men keep secrets because they’re ashamed, Chip?’

‘Ashamed?’ I answered. ‘Ashamed! There’s no shame!’

And with that I jumped up on the desk.

It was quite a sight to see. Even with a bad back, I began to grind my hips as I started my world famous inverted thong strip.

‘Is there anything to feel shameful when you’ve got a body like this?’ I asked as I began my routine by revealing my magnificent torso. ‘Is there anything to be shamed about when you’re Chip Dale, Bangor’s most famous Thonglateer Extraordinaire?’ And with that I did my patented hip thrust that usually drives the ladies crazy.

Of course, I didn’t give them the full strip. There were women in that room who were there to read Jane Austen, but I was down to my underwear when Mrs. Rust brought the class to order.

‘Thank you for setting us straight, Chip,’ said Mrs. Rust with a knowing smile on her face.

The class roared their disapproval as my impromptu performance came to an end and I settled myself back in my chair, suddenly feeling like I was Mrs. Rust’s star pupil.

‘You never struck me as a man who understands toes,’ Mrs. Rust explained as she waited for the room to fall silent. ‘Not with hips are as lean as a Shakespearean sonnet and thighs with all the meaty presence of a novel by Sir Walter Scott.’ And with that she opened her book of poems. ‘Now, Chip, what can you tell me something about this poem’s rhyme scheme?’

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