On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Emily swims at a local pool. We chose the hour – noon to 1pm – for its paucity of other visitors. In the hour earlier a group of older woman balance yellow balls over their heads whilst twirling and kicking their legs underwater; Emily was quite relieved that she didn’t have to join them. During Emily’s hour, a few men swim laps in other lanes, but she has the instructor – Dario – all to herself. He’s a charming young man in his mid-20’s who laughs together with Emily over his poor English pronounciation (“kick your legs” comes out more like “kick your lips”); the only English words he knows are swimming-related.
Dario’s with her in the water the whole time, offering suggestions (kick your lips) and guiding her to the edge when she tires. Normally he teaches from pool-side, and the other swimmers at that hour are friends, or acquaintainces, and aren’t accustomed to seeing him in the water. Of course the custom of kissing on the cheek when greeting can’t be overlooked, even if one person is floating in a 2-meter pool and the other person is 2 meters tall and standing on the pool side. And both are men and wearing nothing but speedos. So Dario pushes himself up on the side of the pool, and the other person bends down, and they kiss and greet. Maybe that’s what he means by “kick your lips”?