On one of my metro-sojourns to work in Maryland in my mid-twenties, a young stranger approached me and said this: You have beautiful neck. Will you go out for a coffee with me? I started laughing, and the chap, looking wounded, assured me that he wasn’t joking. Not wishing to inflict more pain, I held out my hand in which I wore an heirloom ring of uncut diamond (which I subsequently lost in a community swimming pool much to my grandmother’s chagrin) and called a then non-existent fiance for assistance. The chivalrous gentleman bowed his head and said “he is a very lucky man” and left. I sighed because the lucky man was nowhere in my horizon just yet, and I wondered for a long time how coffee with the stranger could have turned out.
I laughed at the guy’s proposition of date because of the reference to my neck. My neck, apparently swan-like before age took it upon itself to pad it, had been a significant cause of grief to me for decades. When I was a wee babe in arms, I often cried incessantly thanks to frequent cricks in it, and my family maid would do strange and scary maneuvers, I am told, with my tiny head, to fix it. My neck cricks were very frequent, exacerbated by the cold, and I often walked around with my head at a 45 degree angle to the neck and eyes glazed with painkillers.
If age was a dog in killing the swan, it did me good in that in recent years, the neck had been behaving itself better. The use of the past tense must be self explanatory. Either the gym has been resurrecting the swan, or it was a bad idea to sleep in itsy-bitsy shorts, without a blanket, on a chilly monsoon night, I am transported to my youthhood, with the angled head and drug-adddled brain.