I have always loved and been intrigued by contrasts and recently encountered one that hit several of my favorite buttons.
Every year Marcus' university hosts a swimming camp for 17 and 18 year-old recent high school graduates who will be joining college swim teams in the fall. My hospital provides medical personnel to give pre-camp physical exams and I usually participate. We don't give full-bore physicals, but they are more than counting eyes and ears after finding a pulse.
One young lady in particular piqued my interest as soon as she walked in the exam room. First of all, she didn't have the ideal swimmer's build I expected to see. Her breasts were too big and her hips (But not waist) were too broad. Second off all, she had three body piercing in addition to pierced ears. The piercings are unusual because they increase a swimmer's drag in th water. The third contrast came when I listened to her lungs. She was a smoker.
I have always prided myself in being able to not only identify smokers by listening to their lungs, but in my ability to determine the number of pack years. Doing so is more difficult the younger the smoker, but I guessed her to be at about 3 - 4 pack years. I finished listening with a few extra breathes thrown in for good measure. I glanced at her paperwork and saw that she was 18 and asked "How long have you been swimming competitively?" She told me she had started competing when she was 14. I then asked "How long have you been smoking?" Her face flushed and she sputtered and tried to act as if she was shocked, but gave up when I told her I couldn't bust her even if I wanted to. She told me she had started smoking when she was 14, but had tried it "a few times" before then. I asked how much she smoked, and she said "About a pack a day" and added the obligatory "I know I should quit."
I told her that it was up to her. "You're of age and know the risks. It isn't good for you, but as far as I can tell, you're in good shape and nothing disqualifies you from swimming." She seemed a little stunned as I signed her form and handed it to her with my best wishes.
This young woman started smoking on a regular basis when she had been in intense athletic training for a year. she has continued smoking, her daily consumption probably increasing every year ever since then, training and competing the entire time. A lovely contradiction.
that evening, the camp participants held a demonstration meet for the benefit of parents and other guests and Marcus and I attended. I wanted to watch my smoking fish. As I stood in the stands and watched her glide through the water with beautiful grace, ease, and speed, I took delight in knowing that the perfectly-tuned body slithering through the water with no wasted effort expended had one a self-imposed potentially fatal flaw. I can't help but believe that she also enjoys the contrast.