Wednesday, July 13, 2016

La Dee Da!


“Do you really wake up every morning thinking what bad thing is gonna happen today?”
Sanctimonious Admonishment Woman gazed at me across the bubbles of the hot tub, serene in her superiority. What the hell?

Sure, I’d just been whining to DL about how some teenage girls had stolen my fins off the deck while I was swimming, claiming that they didn’t know they were mine when the lifeguard who’d so gallantly helped me locate them, asked them. I’d referred to this night of swimming as mayhem, but more on that later. I guess I’d also made some comment about waking up thinking what bad thing was gonna happen to me today, which SAW picked right up on. How do I respond?

I laughed. “Well, I’ve had a run of bad things lately, so it seems appropriate.”
SAW nodded, sagely, “Well, don’t you think that if you woke up every morning thinking ‘What good thing is gonna happen to me?’, that maybe good things might happen?”
Shit. No. I don’t believe this. But I go along with her, cuz what am I gonna do? Start an argument in the hot tub? I glance over at DL whose eyes are wide in engagement at the exchange.

I lied. “Sure, I suppose, you have a point. I’ll give this a try and see what happens.”

She nodded, satisfied, smug. She’d been water walking the entire time I’d been trying to swim amidst the mayhem. She was far away from the chaos of thieving fin teens and throwing ball kids. So, when the mayhem analysis came next, I had to refrain from pointing this out.
“And…” SAW continued, “it’s not mayhem. That’s just normal kid energy. You must not be around kids very much.”
“No,” I answered, thinking, I avoid them as much as possible, but summers in the pools at the YMCA make it difficult. They may be practicing their normal kid energy when they steal my fins, but hell, I don’t appreciate this one bit!

When I mention the fin stealing episode to Sandy later on, telling her about the kid energy perspective from SAW, Sandy had whistled softly, then shook her head, “Were your fins on the side of the pool while you were in the lane?”
“Yes.”
“Well, then they knew that the fins belonged to you no matter what they said. They stole them plain and simple.”
“Thank you!” I breathe out. At least someone else gets that the normal kid energy is undesirable. “I was just so upset, you know?”
“Of course you were!” Sandy exclaims. “Next time someone tells you that it’s just normal kid energy, you just tell them ‘La dee da!’”

I crack up. “Yes, that’s what I’ll do. Thanks, Sandy.”

Nodding seriously, she goes back to her careful lotion application process as DL and I gather up our stuff to head out of the Downtown Oakland YMCA.

And SAW? Where was she?

I have no idea. I’d never seen her before. And I hope I never see her again. But if I do, I’ll tell her how I’ve been waking up every morning and thinking what good thing is gonna happen to me today.

And when she answers with some other nugget of positive wisdom, I’ll just smile and say,
‘La dee da!!!”

Friday, July 01, 2016

Demon Shower Boy Child



“Don’t stare at me!” I stand shaking, wrapped in my towel, in the center of the women’s shower at the Hilltop YMCA. The Devil Boy Child makes a scrunchy face at me, his demon eyes glittering at me in gleeful maliciousness.

Goddamnit! Is it asking so much to be able to take a shower in the women’s locker room without a goddamn boy child staring at me?
Evidently.

He starts a spastic dance at me in the middle of the shower, his arms flapping akimbo, his devil face ablaze with evil intent. He knows he has the power over me. I can’t take a shower with him dancing there in the center of the showers. Where the hell is his mother?

“Stop staring at me!” I holler again.
He stops his dance, but continues his stare as only boy children can do when confronted with naked women.
Why oh why can’t the YMCA keep the kids in their own locker rooms at the Hilltop Y? There are no kids allowed in Oakland. There’re no kids allowed in Berkeley. Why does Hilltop allow it? Families! Remember, it’s called the Hilltop FAMILY YMCA—So, it’s the goddamn children centric situation. They rule. Especially in the summer. The pool is amuck with them. Screaming and splashing and fighting.
But to have to put up with them in the shower too? I just can’t handle it. Esp. on a Friday afternoon when I’ve had a hellish week and all I want to do is swim, sauna, and shower in peace!
Now, the Shower Demon Child starts up his dance again. I glance around for the mother. Oh, here she is, harried and entitled. Ready to do battle with me. I can tell from her firm frown.

“How old is he?” I ask her, knowing that at the very least kids over 5 can’t use the women’s locker room. Not that this is enforced, but it’s worth a try.
Smugly, she glares at me, “He’s 4!” She grabs him, trying to pry him and his staring eyes away from his prize. “Bye Bye!” she commands. To me? For the child to tell me? Or is she just yelling at me like I’m 4 years old too?
She hustles the demon child into one of the curtained stalls. The child protests, still craning his scrawny neck to get a last glimpse at me before the curtain is drawn.

And I stand there for a second wondering if I should go over to the showers on the other side where we are not supposed to ‘shampoo and condition’. I decide I will. To hell with the rules. I grab my products and peek around the corner and.... shit.

Another boy child and its mother are over there! Damn! This child is little, and doesn’t pay attention to me at all, thoroughly enraptured with mom’s ministrations.

And this is my point. If the boy child is old enough to STARE at the naked women, then it’s old enough to use the kids’ locker rooms! Why the hell is this concept so hard to get across? No one seems to care except for me and….
The Lovely I! I remember her fury at the boy children allowed in the women’s locker room at Mills College. “WTF?” she’d shake her head. “Don’t stare at me!” she’d command. And I can’t remember, but

I think they listened to her.

They don’t listen to me. Why is that? I try to be as scary as possible, but I think when a boy child has the opportunity to stare at a naked women, well, hell, he’s going to, right?
I mean part of me gets that it’s not the kid’s fault. He is just doing what comes naturally. But the mothers?

Shit. They could control the kids. Keep them from staring. Or hell, take them to the kids’ locker room if staring is an issue.

But I know better. Nothing will change. I think today, for a moment, of complaining to the management of Hilltop Y, but why bother? I’d just get the same old song and dance: “They’re little. They need their mothers…..They can go into the adult locker room with parental supervision till they’re 6….” Etc., etc., etc.!

And the staring invasion of privacy situation?
No one cares.
Except for me.
And the Lovely I.
Oh, my I miss her so!

She’d have stopped this Demon Boy Child in his tracks today. Or at the very least, I’d have someone to share my frustration with the situation.
Which is definitely worth a lot.
Esp. when a Demon Shower Boy Child is the culprit!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Two Heads Are Better Than One


“If you just had yourself a big stick, you could reach it.”

I am lying on my belly in the sauna at Hilltopia trying to retrieve my little plastic earplug case that’s fallen through the cracks from the top shelf. Of course, it landed in the very farthest corner of the sauna, underneath the shelf I'm sitting on and the one below me. It is completely out of my reach even with my belly stretch. Which by the way is hard. I’m wiped out after my swim and this exertion around plastic case retrieval is taxing!
But Stick Suggestion Woman is into the retrieval. Poised in fleshy majesty, her size DD bra half on, her 80 year old panties worn and drooping, she has been chatting with me about this and that when I dropped the case. “I come 6 days a week. I water walk for an hour. After my surgery it was the thing my doctor told me was the best……” And I’d nodded and agreed. Another convert to the pool.

“Yes, I love the pool,” I’d gushed in my usual enthusiastic way. “I never want to get out. And then when I do get out and come in here to the sauna, I never want to get out of here!”
“They might kick you out at 10 o’clock,” she’d noted, chuckling softly.
“Yes, but for now I just want to stay. It’s so nice and warm.”
“You’re homesteadin it!” she’d pronounced.
I didn’t quite know what she meant by this. Like squatters’ rights with vacant houses? But I liked it and just repeated the term back to her.

So, now here she was trying to help me retrieve the earplug case, which frankly, I could live without, but hell, I’ve got a story here, so I’m gonna continue with the action.
“Ummm….I don’t have a big stick, but….” I eye my swim fins. “I do have a fin.” I grab it and sure enough, I can reach the case with the tip of the fin. Excited, I flick it hard and then sit up, a little winded.

“Where’d it go?” I look around the sauna, the floor covered in wooden boards.
“It went under that board there, I think,” she points.
Crestfallen, I plop down. “Now what?”
Undaunted, she rises and waddles over to where I am, “Here, let me help you. We can pick this slat up and I’ll hold it while you get it. Okay?”
“Okay!”

She is surprisingly strong, lifting the large wooden panel up and holding it off the cement floor for me. There it is! I swoop down and retrieve it. Victory!

She starts to let the panel back down. “Watch your toes!” she commands.
I do. And we manage to drop the panel back into place.
“Wow! That was an adventure!” I exclaim.
“That it was. That it was,” she agrees.
“I never would’ve thought of using my fin if you hadn’t mentioned the stick.”
“Two heads are better than one,” she quips, settling back into her spot, sighing loudly as she tries to hook her bra.

“What’s your name, Dearie?” she asks me.
I tell her and then ask hers. “Vita.”
“Vita? Like in life?”
She stares at me blankly. “How do you spell it?” I ask.
“V-E-D-A”
“Oh, Veda. That’s pretty. Is it a family name?” I ask.
Shaking her head, she chuckles softly. “Nope. My mother had a hairdresser whose name was Veda and she liked the name so I got it.”
A hairdresser name inspiration? My niece is a hair stylist. I wonder if any of her clients will name their children after her?
I would. If I had children that is.

But today, it’s Veda and her two heads homesteading wisdom that inspires me. It's a good thing that I always carry my swim fins with me wherever I go. You never know when you’ll need a big stick, right?
Right!

Sunday, June 05, 2016

The Whatever Factor

“You look to be doing well.” His eyes zone into mine, their beauty completely distracting me for a moment as I pause at the side of the pool. Damn! How can a guy have such beautiful eyes? You know, those long lashes, and in the pool, they’re glistening wet and slightly unreal. And then combine that with his ruggedly handsome (yes, I know this is cliché, but it’s true) jaw and cheekbones, and hell, I can barely speak. But I do manage a fairly passable answer, I think, with,

“Yup, today, is good. And look,” I wave at the near empty pool except for the two of us. “It’s our pool today!”
“I love the calm,” he nods, still gazing steadily at me. I’m finished with my swim, so am a little winded, but it’s mostly his focused beauty gaze that has me transfixed. Usually, I just hop out of the pool, but not today. This is way to enticing.
“Yes, it is calm. By 2 p.m.,, it’ll be mayhem.”

“Really?” he says like he has no clue of the schedule. Could this be? I suppose there are swimmers who just come to the pool when it fits their schedule with nary a glance at the pool schedule. Unlike me who builds my life around the pool schedule.

“Yeah,” and I go blah blah blah about birthday parties, and crowds of families and screaming children and he just continues to nod and stare at me.
I stop talking about the schedule and ask him about his injuries. A common topic of conversation at the YMCA. He has arthritis in both of his shoulders. Ouch! And didn’t swim for several months, but today I note that he’s swimming just fine.

“Yeah,” he says, “well, sometimes I kick and I get a wave of pain, but you know, it’s never gonna be the same as it was. Something happens at 50 and you just have to give that one up. It actually takes a lot of pressure off. There’s a freedom in it you, know?”

“Yeah, it’s like, I can’t swim as fast or as far as I used to, but at least I’m in the pool and I’m swimming so, whatever….”

He grins, and I’m momentarily mesmerized by his beauty again as he proclaims, “Yeah, it’s The Whatever Factor.”
“Exactly!” I agree. “The Whatever Factor. You reach 50 and it’s whatever you can do, that’s what you do and whatever it is it’s good enough and frankly who cares? You know, it’s ‘whatever’!”
He nods, deep in thought of my Whatever Babbling. And I guess that’s what’s great about being over 50. I mean what difference does it make if I can only swim 200 yards without my fins? Whatever. Or I can only swim a mile in 40 minutes. Whatever. Or, I can only stand at the wall chatting with Too Handsome Man for 5 minutes before I get cold.

Damn! This aspect of the Whatever Factor sucks, but at least I’ve had a chance to bask in his beauty for a moment.

“It’s nice talking with you,” he says, grabbing a kickboard from the deck.
“Yes, you too,” I try not to gush. What did DL say, Beauty is the ONLY distraction?
Thank goodness this part of being over 50 hasn’t seemed to diminish. If anything, my appreciation of beauty has become even more pronounced.

Why is that, I wonder? Is it because there’s less I can actually do so my imagination and appreciation of beauty is more vibrant? Or is it because I’ve started painting watercolors and writing a novel about art and dreams? Or is it because…

Oh, whatever! I think as I climb out of the pool and sneak one last glance at his manly kick down the lane.
Ahhhh…..appreciation.
That never gets old!


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Hostile Lane Takeover


Okay, I’m the first to admit that I’m a Lane Hog. I don’t like sharing and I make it clear to anyone who wants to enter my lane domain. And, yes, I’m a little sneaky about it. I hog the middle of the lane, not quite blatantly, but you know, enough toward the center black line to make it loud and clear that NO ONE is welcome. My methods are obvious, but usually effective. I rarely share a lane, esp. at Hilltopia.

So, today, when I arrived on deck at the usually calm Sunday lap swim hour and every lane was full, I swore under my breath. Or not really, I swore out loud: “Shit.”

Ian had already grabbed the last empty lane and was casually putting on his red fins. I glared at him.

There was, however, an empty lane next to him. The dreaded ‘walking lane.’ Now, at Hilltop, the lifeguards are so low-key (or asleep) that they don’t care if swimmers ‘swim’ in the walking lane. (Unlike Oakland where the lifeguards will leap off their high chair, blow their whistle, holler, “NO SWIMMING IN THE WALKING LANE!!!”and send offending swimmers scurrying for cover!) So, today even though I avoid swimming in the walking lane at Hilltop I decided to risk it. If a walker got in, then I’d just scoot over and swim with Ian.
I climbed in. The water was luscious and calm. My new mask was NOT leaking. I swam one lap, turning at the wall, and headed back, thinking, okay, someone will get out of one of the other lanes and then I can swim over there. Till then, I’ll just make sure I watch out for the ‘walkers’.

Then.....a Square Woman entered my arena. She was, well, square. You know what I mean? As wide as she was tall, this woman in her skirted black and white suit from 1977, now stood in front of me. Naturally, I thought she was a ‘walker’ and I needed to move to another lane.

But, Lane Hog that I am, I stopped and asked her, just to make sure. “You walking?” I said, trying not to pause too long at the wall as she stared at me, seeming to comprehend my query.
“No,” she said, “I’m just looking for a lane to swim in.”

“Oh, yeah, well, it is crowded today,” I responded, thinking, whew, she’s not a walker, she’s gonna move to another lane. I will continue to get to swim in my own lane.

I swam to the other side, turning at the wall and saw her start to march toward me. Her squaredom swaying side to side in massive ownership of the lane.
Damn. She is a ‘walker’ after all. I’ll have to move.
And so I did, just popping under the lane line and joining Ian.

I was cranky. But what could I do? Ian didn’t seem to mind my joining him, but he’s not the type to say if he did, so…..I swam a couple of laps and then noticed, to my amazement, that the ‘walker’ was now swimming. In MY lane!

Shit. She’d just walked one lap to chase me out of the lane and then she took over. I couldn’t believe it! How goddamn sneaky was that? Is this what they mean by passive aggressive? Or was it just plain aggressive?
Or was she just an underhanded bitch?

I decided she was the last and seethed as I continued to share a lane with Ian while Square Takeover Woman blithely swam by herself down the center of the lane with no sharing in sight.
But then, hah! I real walker entered the situation, donned in walking shoes and no cap or goggles. Lane Takeover Woman was forced to abandon her stolen lane and SHARE with someone else on the far side of the pool. And it was supremely splashy and crowded over there where she was forced to swim now. Hahahahaaaaa!!!!

I grinned to myself underwater. Vindicated, I smiled over at the current real Walker Woman who smiled serenely back at me, completely oblivious to her role in my victory.

When Ian got out and I finally had a lane to myself, I swam down the center, directly over the heavy black line on the pool’s tiled bottom. Not even trying to be subtle about my Lane Hogging abilities.

Damn if I was gonna let anyone share with me for the last 10 minutes of my swim. And no one did or dared. My hostile don’t share my lane vibe was on high.

Yet, part of me has to hand it to Hostile Lane Takeover woman.
She pulled one over on me.
And frankly, that’s hard to do, esp. with a seasoned Lane Hog with no qualms about what’s rightfully hers!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Cat Videos


“I wonder where everyone is,” Sandy shifts subtly on the top shelf of Utopia.
“I know, right?” I say. “I had an entire lane to myself in the pool for almost my whole swim. That never happens here at the Downtown Oakland YMCA!
Sandy snorts. “Yeah, I hear you.”

“DL thinks that it might be so empty round here cuz of the basketball game,” I share.
“Oh, yeah, I bet she’s right!” Sandy nods, as DL grins supine on the bottom shelf of Utopia. We don’t usually have the spaciousness of just the three of us in Utopia and DL is taking full advantage. “Isn’t this the game that decides it all?” Sandy asks.

I shrug. I have no clue. I have a vague, very vague, idea that Oakland’s Wonder team, the Warriors, are playing but beyond that, I have no clue. Basketball is not my thing. Too much running back and forth in wild frenzied violence, whistles blaring, elbows felling. It’s overwhelming for me after a few minutes. I’d rather watch The Young and the Restless, with Victor Newman in prison for enlisting the services of a Peruvian Twin to impersonate Jack Abbott who was being held captive on a deserted island by his schizophrenic ex.
And Sharon! She thought she was pregnant with Dylan’s baby while she was in the asylum at Fairview, but then unbeknownst to her because of heavy constant medication prescribed to her by her evil psychiatrist, she didn’t really have a baby—it was actually Nick Newman’s stolen dead baby and so….well you get the idea. The ball goes back and forth and up and down the court in a soap opera, but it’s much more surreal. And hilarious.
But back to Utopia and Basketball, DL shakes her head in answer to Sandy’s claim about tonight’s game being the decider. “No, not tonight,” DL says.

Sandy nods, then sinks back against the wall after peering at the clock. 9:40. We’ve still got 20 minutes before they kick us out. “I like basketball,” Sandy announces. “Now, baseball. No way. My father loved baseball. Why he’d be so excited when they had something called a ‘no hitter’ and I was bored to tears!
“Me too!” I exclaim. “I want the games where the score is 17-15.”
“Exactly!” Sandy nods. “Otherwise, it’s such a yawn. I will drink those big beers. Scarf down some nachos. But the action? Put up some cat videos.”


DL cracks up, her entire body shaking in mirthful delight. “Put up some Cat Videos. That is so great!”
“Yeah, what a genius idea,” I concur.
Sandy shrugs. “I tell you, baseball is such a snore. And football, fuck that shit. Pardon my French. But basketball, I can get behind that sport.”

DL nods, grinning in Cheshire cat charm.
“I’ll see you both out there,” Sandy rises, ambles out of Utopia.
I’m still laughing. Cat Videos! At the A’s game? I’m there!

Now if only we could get them to show The Young and the Restless at ballgames. Will Sharon tell Nick that his baby isn't really dead? That the baby she has is, in fact, his? But no, wait. It's not really Nick's baby, it's Adam's! And Victor Newman knows this secret! But will he get out of prison in time to divulge this before Sharon runs off, kidnapping her own child that isn't really hers?

Baseball and soaps! Another Utopia for me. Well, besides my own lane at the Downtown Oakland YMCA.

Attack of the Green Apples

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

TWINS!!!!

I notice their rambunctiousness first. Their splashing hilarity. They jump into the shallow pool with complete guffawing abandon , racing running to the other side of the pool. Taking up the entire lane. Two of them.

I’m tired. At the end of my swim here at Hilltopia. A long day and now a long swim and I’m ready to get out soon. But can’t ignore these two. They demand my attention.

They have the same reddish hair, arranged in the same half ponytail style. They both wear the same maroon tank suit, suntanned shoulders bouncing over the white water they create.
It takes a few laps for me to realize it: Twins! Swimming twins! Cool. I love it that they both swim, they both splash, they both laugh uproariously . Over what? There doesn’t seem to be anything going on. Except for their own show .

And maybe this is what it’s like for twins. Who needs the rest of the world when you’ve got yourself to hang out with, swim with, play with, eat with…..

I remember when my sister and I were ‘twins’ at the Fiesta Inn pool in Cabo Del San Jose. We had the same suit on. A turquoisey tropical number. We had the same haircut and tan. I am a couple of years older, but hell at our age, who can tell? So when someone at the hotel pool asked if we were twins, we just nodded and said, ‘Yes, we’re twins.” And for the rest of the entire trip, that’s what we were. Twins. A completely different identity from being a non twin. An individual.
We were a unit. We did water ballet with twin like accuracy. We sipped our margaritas with twin like abandon. We sang little swimming songs in twin unison.

Twins.
It was cool.
And so tonight, when I see these twins, I remember when my sister and I posed as such. And how fun it was. We fooled everyone. And were delighted, in prime twin fashion, with our ruse.

Later, in the locker room, the Twins are in my spot. Of course. I joke, tell them that my locker is right behind them. The crack up. Move out of my way. “This always happens,” I say. “We all end up in the same spot. “
“We just take up a lot of room “ they laugh, unembarrassed at their twin space needs.

Down the aisle, Little Ecuadoran Grandma sees them and grins in delight:
"You are Twins?"
"Yup,” they both exclaim.
"That is SO sweet."
"Sometimes." The crack up. This is an old joke. Or a new one. It doesn’t matter. Twins get their jokes without having to check in.
And so we all laugh as I continue to move my stuff out of their way over to the next aisle. Getting dressed, I hear them laugh. Still boisterous after their swim. Reveling in their twindom.
And I think, hell, I wish I had my twin here tonight. To share a laugh. To take over a lane. To love and cherish.

Corny right?
But twins are special. And I do know this. Well…..almost…..