Monday, November 27, 2006

Swimming again with the Lovely I. Oh my!

“Hello? Swimming Kitty? Are you allowed to swim on the darkest rainiest day of the year so far? I don’t think any UV rays could possibly come through…..”
PP stops her plodding through Beethoven’s Sonata in F minor to interrupt the Lovely I’s phone message. “HEY! Hello!”
“Hey? Can you swim today?”
PP thinks she can. Hell, if she can’t swim in a driving downpour when the heavens look like a dark wet gray blanket, when can she swim? (Of course she knows the answer to this, but c’mon!)

And so the Lovely I takes PP to the Pool.
And tells her many stories.
Of which, PP will now narrate the best.

“How was your Thanksgiving?” PP asks as they traipse through the rain up the steps to Club Mills.
“OHMYGOD!” The Lovely I exclaims. “You would not believe it! D’s sister had this total meltdown over the George Bush Toilet Paper.”
PP grins. This was gonna be good. “Why?”
“Oh my god. She just went off on D about how it was so inappropriate to give as a gift in front of the children.”
“Why? Don’t kids need to know who to wipe their ass with?”
(PP didn’t really think to say this, but it sounds good now.)
The Lovely I giggles, “Precisely.” (Again, this is made-up, but PP hasta keep the dialogue line going.) “You see,” LI continues, “D had brought the toilet paper as a gag gift. Duh. And while we thought it was hilarious at best and a nice gesture at the least, the sister did not!”
“What did she say?”
“She just went on and on about how it was a Bad Influence on the kids. How they hafta learn to respect those in power, especially the President. Never mind the fact that this President deserves no one’s respect. But hell, what do you expect from a die hard Republican!”
“Ahhh, one of those Sanctimonious Mothers!”
“Exactly! I mean! Even if you could protect your kids from all the Bad Influences out there, everyone knows this is impossible, cuz how the hell are you gonna do that?”
“Yeah.”
“They’re still gonna grow up and hopefully think for themselves and realize that George Bush isn’t even good enough for Toilet Paper!”
“Let’s hope so!”

In the hot tub, the cold rain barreling down, the Lovely I grins as she stands waist deep in the water. “You stayed in a long time!”
“45 minutes.”
“Wow! I hadda get out. I was just too cold.”
“Me too,” PP agrees. “But I figured I hadda take advantage of swimming after 10 a.m. and before 4 p.m. when the clouds provide an opportunity.”
“Heee heee heee!”
“What have you been doing with yourself?” PP asks as she melts down into the warm steamy sanctuary.
“Did I tell you I’m taking Horse Back Riding lessons?”
“No, cool.”
“It is so cool. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time but just couldn’t find anywhere to do it. All the places were either too far away or booked up. But then, lucky for me, the place up at Chabot gave my number to this new instructor and she called me and I said sure, why not? And I’ve had 5 lessons. And can you believe it? It’s really a workout! I’ve never been so sore in my life. I don’t remember this from when I was 12.”
“Yeah, well we’re a little different than when we were 12.”
“Hee hee! Yeah, so I was really happy with this cuz I’ve been trying to think of a way of improving my Core Strength. Swimming doesn’t do it. And I can’t do anything else like, run! So now, with the horseback riding, my Core is gonna improve. I can feel it.”
PP nods in agreement. Having no idea what to say to either horseback riding or Core Strength Improvement.”

“How’s your hand doing?” PP asks.
(The Lovely I has had a severely injured paw for many many months, but she’s driving now and swimming and horseback riding, so, it must be getting better! And it is!”
“I can Iron!” LI exclaims.
PP grins. “That’s wonderful. I guess. I mean, I haven’t ironed anything in 25 years, but hell, I could see how you’d need to use your hands to do it.”
“That’s so interesting.” LI muses. “I’ve come to the conclusion that people are divided into two groups. Those that Iron and those that Don’t.”


“Did you take any pictures with your underwater camera?” PP asks as they head outta the locker room.
“No, I was too cold. Ohmygod! Look at this!” LI cries as she grabs her camera. “I coulda been taking pictures while you were drying your hair.”
PP giggles as she watches LI begin to click away. The big blue pool being pounded into thousands of tiny little bullet indentations as the sheets of grey white rain come tumbling down. The steam rising in big billowing gusts as the swimmers plow methodically through their workouts.
It is beautiful.
And the Lovely I is too!
And swimming in the rain is too!

Happy Winter! PP thinks as she ducks under the LI’s big red and white umbrella to meander spacily back to the car.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

HOT TUBBING IN WILLITS

Willits, California. Gateway to the Redwoods. Home of Seabiscuit. Start of the Skunktrain.

What a place to vacation!

Well, actually, it’s a great halfway point between the Bay Area and Eureka, where PP’s folks live. And while it’s not an impossible drive to make in one trip (about 5-6 hours) if you can stop halfway, it’s so much nicer.

PP had spied the billboard for the Beachtel Creek Inn on the way up for the Thanksgiving Feast. Had been sorely tempted to stop as they’d been sitting in traffic for the last 3 of the 4 hours of the journey so far. Yes, everyone and their mother were headed to Grandmother’s for Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. And the Inn by a secluded creek right offa 101 seemed so tempting.

Alas, they plowed on. But yet, the billboard stuck in PP’s mind. “Come to Beachtel Creek Inn! Your oasis nestled next to a quiet creek. Pool.” (Imagine PP’s excitement!) “Hot tub, cable T.V., and spa.” (PP could do without the spa but everything else sounded heavenly.) So when they were looking for a spot to break up the drive back down to the Bay Area, PP booked a room.

Now, after a grueling mile long walk after the meal at Anna’s Asian Cuisine in the 40 degree cold down 101, a HOT Tub sounded like just the ticket. (The pool, of course, was closed. PP guessed that if the air temp was 40 the pool was probably 50? Maybe 60? In any case no water that she’d like to even dip her big kitty toe in!)

Dashingly Handsome Boyfriend was of course delighted by the prospect of a Hot Tub under the frozen stars of Willits. On their walk back from Anna’s, he’d tried to show PP the constellations. She was too cold to pay attention. (Besides the fact that she never could see the pictures in the sky that everyone else seemed to spot so easily!)

Easing into the steaming tub, DHBF grinned and sighed happily. After all he had been driving for the last few hours and the hot water was deliciously therapeutic. PP, dubious of a Hot Tub while they’d been galloping down 101 after dinner trying to escape the Frigid Night, now happily dunked into the welcoming steam.

Aaaaahhhh! Heaven!

Sinking into the toasty tub, PP closed her eyes, blissing happily, finally relaxing after the cold bone-chilling walk.

It was late. About 9? Maybe 9:15. The cute hick girl that had checked them into the hotel had said that the Hot Tub was open officially till 10, but she didn’t leave till 11, so they could stay that late. No one else was around. Of course no one else was crazy enough to go Hot Tubbing in Willits in the 40 degree weather except for the two of them. Until…..

The pool gate swung open. A couple giggling as they came in. Pert Blonde in sexy knee-high fur boots with her hotel white robe covering her soon to be revealed polka dot bikini, pleasantly rounded, she wore the bikini well. Handsome, blondish longhaired guy, pony tailed, with a sexy smile and a killer bod.

PP was delighted.

Courteous hellos were exchanged as the couple tossed off their robes. Pert Blonde smiling and asking if it was okay to turn on the jets.

“Sure,” DHBF answered good-naturedly. He was so nice. Unlike PP who woulda lied and said that the jets were broken. They’d already tried ‘em.( Cuz she purrfurred the still quiet of the hot water to the noisy bubbles of the jets.)

Giggling, PB turned on the jets and then hopped into the tub, with her handsome man following her dutifully.

“Oooohhh! This is the best I’ve felt all day!” PB exclaimed, sinking deep into the tub, her bleached blonde hair kept outta the water in a tight round bun atop her head.

PP nods. “Yeah, it’s really nice. Especially with it so cold out. We’ve just been walking for the last half hour in the freezing cold and this is divine!”

PB nods and then starts yammering to her partner about this and that. Thanksgiving. Eating too much. “I shouldn’t of had all that rich food! I’ve been on that cleansing diet for the last week and my system is killing me now. What with the turkey and the mashed potatoes and the gravy and that glass of wine. IT did me in!”

Handsome Ponytail Man nods. Doesn’t say much. Till the subject of Hot Tubs comes up. How they’d installed or taken out a hot tub? PP couldn’t really understand which since she was tired and heaterized. “Yeah…you shoulda seen the redwood deck under the tub. It was pure mush! You could stick your finger a half a inch into it.”

PB wrinkles her little nose in disgust. “Gross!”
He chuckles. “Yeah, well, they shoulda thought about the materials they were using when they put that tub there. We’re gonna lay a slab of concrete under ours before we install it.”

PB nods. “He’s a contractor.”
PP and DHBF both nod politely. Trying not to be too bored. PP can’t help but think about the close proximity of these two couples. It was a very small Hot Tub. But, hell, in Willits, it’s surprising there are any hot tubs at all! The town seemed to be full of speeding redneck motorcyclists, or souped up pick-ups with screaming teenagers hollaring at out-of-towners (namely PP and DHBF) trying to get to their hotels.

“These friends of ours gave us their hot tub. They hadda move. You shoulda seen their house! It was full of ART all the way up the wall," PB exclaims.

PP nods again. What the hell was she talking about? ART up the wall ? Contractor Man grins over at her. Silly puss, she was cute, but not so great at describing things. It takes a Contractor Man to really tell it like it is!

“They hadda a A frame house and they had these little shelves built up the wall. All the way to the ceiling. And they had these little pieces of art either on the shelves or nailed to the wall.”
PB nods. “Yeah! It was amazing! Imagine all the Dust!”

PP eyes her. Dust Art? Now there’s a concept! Nodding in pretend understanding, PP watches as they sparkle at each other. The chemistry palpable. If it’d been a few years ago, PP might have added to the chemistry. Now it was all just fantasy. After all they were sexy, even if they weren’t really her type. It was always good to expand your horizons.

Well, at least in theory.

DHBF yawns. Turns and grins over at PP. ‘You ‘bout ready to go?” he asks, with his own twinkle in his eye.

PP nods, giving him her hand as he helps her out of the tub. “You guys have a good night,” she calls back to the Sexy Couple, who now alone in the tiny tub are experimenting with different positions.

NO NOT those kinda Positions! After all, it was Willits, California. And while PP was sure that the good citizens of this fine town partook of as much fun as the next, they certainly would not be the types to look the other way at Hot Tub Shenanigans!

Shivering again, PP grins as she sloshes dizzily after DHBF back up the stairs, into their too green room to watch "The Mists of Avalon" on the cable T.V.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

These Cats Need a Pool!


Hell, they’ve got everything else here at the San Mateo Cat Show. Little pink hammocks to relax in. Matching purple bowls to eat delicately out of. Fancy Feathered Toys always waving for them. It’s Cat Heaven.


PLEASE DO NOT USE BATHROOM SINKS FOR EMERGENCY CAT WASHING. THERE ARE EMERGENCY CAT WASHING SINKS LOCATED IN PROMANADE 8A FOR THIS PURPOSE.

I stare at the sign and think, hell these cats need a pool, no matter how great the Promenade is. Emergency bathing for so many cats? Only an Olympic sized pool would do the trick. Or at least it would seem. Even though cats hate the water, I bet one of these special breeds is a Water Cat.

“Are you from Europe?”
I glance over at the Insane Cat Woman who’s just plopped down in the seat next to me to watch the judging for the Maine Coon cats.
What do I say to the Europe question? Something in German? “Nein, Ich bin auf California, bist du?” But I resist this temptation just in case she is German.
“No, I’m from California, not Europe.”
Insane Europe Woman glances at me skeptically, “Me too. I thought you were from Europe because of your shoes.”
I glance down at my odiously ugly clogs that I got free from the Chandler Apts that my sister hates. See, Snart! I look like I’m from Europe cuz of these shoes.

Well, at least at the Cat Show I do.

Are You From Europe Woman gets bored with me and my shoes, and turns to her breeder friends sitting behind her. “Did I tell you about Blue Cat?”
“No, darling do tell.”
”Well I emailed him about one of his kittens. He was asking $3400 for it which I thought was a bit steep so I forwarded the pic of the kitten to a friend of mine and he said, no way don’t you even think of buying that kitten. Look at its ears. They’re huge!” And so I wrote Blue Cat back and said, thanks so much for your time and your email but I am really looking for a kitten with smaller ears. And you know what he wrote me back?”
Gay Breeder leans closer, “Do tell!”
“He said, ‘I am sooo sorry that I was not able to meet your needs with such Special Circumstances!”
“ The Nerve!”
“Can you believe it?”
“Oh I believe it, honey. I believe it! You know what you shoulda written him back and said?”
“No, what?”
“You shoulda written him back and said you don’t want any kittens that could be dubbed ‘Dumbo’!
AYFE Woman guffaws. “Yeah! That’d woulda cooked his goose!”

“I have an Abyssinian and they’re a kick!”
I nod at a seemingly normal young woman, dark brunette hair framing her pale face. But I shoulda seen it. That crazed look in the eye. She had it.
“My Abyssinian has so much energy! He’s like a dog.
“Really? Like does he come when you whistle?
”Oh yeah! And he dances too.”
”My! That’s impressive.”
”Yes it is. I put a little cowboy hat on him and he does the doesseee doe.”
She grins and starts to do a little skip to demonstrate.
“Wow! That’s amazing.”
”Yeah, and can you believe that he does it on top of the refrigerator?”
“No.”

“This music is actually me singing. All songs about cats. It does include What’s New Pussycat, but it also has original cat songs by me. “
I nod. Pick up the pink CD and glance at the list as Cat Singer eyes me hopefully, her smile ready to crack her face open.

My Cat Belongs to ME
Pussy Cat Pussy Cat
I Left my Cat in San Francisco
The way you wear your Cat

I put the CD back on the table, and give her an encouraging smile. “Looks like a nice selection.”
“Yes, it is. But I have to tell everyone that’s it’s me cuz they just think it’s background music.”

“Look at this Big Guy! Wow aren’t you a handsome Big Boy!
JL coos at the bored giant Maine coon cat lolling about in his princely blue situation.
“What’s his name?”
“Willie.” Can’t Be Bothered Breeder kinda pays attention to us, but really she’d rather talk to her friend. Undaunted, JL presses on. “How much does he weigh?”
“17. I don’t let my cats get over 20. Once they hit 20 then it’s no more food for them!”
“Were you the one that the judge had a hard time lifting?” JL asks Willie who stares at her, completely in love.
”Oh, NO!” CBB Breeder now wants to clarify things for us. “That wasn’t Willie! That was that other Maine Coon. I think he’s 25 lbs.”
“I have a cat that’s at least 20 lbs,” I volunteer.
CBB Breeder looks down her nose at me. “Is he a Maine Coon?”
”No, he’s no show cat.” (SEE PHOTO!)
”Oh.”


“Marvin, can you just speak into the mike and tell us how important it is that the cats stay on the table? That they don’t jump down and chase the toy.”
Impatient dyed blonde interviewer shoves the microphone into Marvin’s face. Her assistant bearing down with the video camera.
“Why sure, Cynthia. I’d be glad to.” Marvin tosses a toy on the ground as the large tabby… Whoops! Of course it’s not a tabby. No Cat here is just a tabby. The large Somali glances down after chartreuse feather toy as Marvin looks directly at Cynthia to answer her question. “You see, if we had the cats jumping offa the tables when the judges are….”
”Can you please look at the camera!” Cynthia’s getting pissed. Time is money.
“Sure…..” Marvin drawls as he picks up the cat toy. The Somali paws for it lazily. “It is VERY IMPORTANT that the cats don’t jump offa the table…..”
The Somali eyes widen at the toy. Stretches his big paws toward it as he begins to roll off the counter. “NO, Tiny! Stay!”
“C’mon Dan, let’s try another one.”

”Are you guys ready to go already?” R asks, crestfallen.
DL and I nod. We’re tired and hungry and catted out. “Yeah,” DL sighs, “but we can stay a little longer if you want.”
R grins. ”Just 15 more minutes. I wanna go through the Meow Mall one more time.”
DL rises offa the grass outside to follow her girlfriend back inside. They link arms. “Do you want your picture taken?” Aggressive CAT Camera Woman blocks them on the way back in.
“No, no….I don’t want my picture taken,” DL protests.
“Oh, c’mon, D, it’ll be fun!” R exclaims as she leads her over to the International Space Station Cat backdrop and they pose cutely for ACC Woman.

“That’s a beautiful cat! What kind is it?”
Harried Balding Overweight Gent, (Is everyone at the Cat Show overweight? ) sighs, shifts a purrfect fluffy white feline to his other shoulder. “They’re Ragdolls.”
“OH, they’re so cute! Do they have a nice purrsonality?”
HROG grunts. I think how he doesn’t have such a nice purrsonality himself.
“Do you have any kittens for sale?” Curious Woman is undaunted. She wants information! That’s why she paid her 10 bucks to get into the goddamn cat show!
Sighing, he shifts the cat onto his lap as another one crawls up on his shoulder. “She might have some for sale. I dunno.”
“Do you have a card? Maybe I can give a call?”
Shaking his head, he glances around the counter full of cat toys, designer kibble and glasses of bad pink wine. “No.”
RQ glances over at me, mutters not too softly under her breath. “Some people aren’t very good salesmen round here!”

“OHMYGOD!!! Did I tell you R’s Adventure at the Cat Show last year?” DL exclaims breathlessly as we pull out of the San Mateo fairgrounds.

I glance around. Plenty of room for a pool! I really need to contact the Cat Show Higher-Ups and get that going for next year’s Emergency Baths.

“No,” JL answers, “What happened?”
”Well, now that you guys have witnessed the Cat Show, you’ll really get this story.” DL takes a deep breath before plunging in. “You know how when the judges are judging the cats and everyone is all quiet and serious and all?”
“Yeah, of course,” JL nods, leaning forward, intensely interested.
“Well, last year, we were at one of those judging moments when it’s really at that point when the Judge is giving the cats that one last close lookover and everyone is just sitting there rapt and R notices that one of the cats behind the judge has somehow gotten a piece of ribbon and is proceeding to chew it down as cats will. And we’re sitting there watching as this beautiful Persian cat is chewing this ribbon and thinking hell, it’s gonna kill itself. So R just gets up and walks right in front of the judge and all the snooty cat breeders and goes up to the cage and starts to yank the ribbon outta the cat’s mouth as everyone just stares in astonishment!”

”Wow! That’s really good she did that!” I exclaim in admiration for R’s amazing Cat Chutzpah.

“Yeah, it was. But the funny, or I guess, not surprising thing is that no one said anything. They all just glared at her as she was pulling the ribbon outta the cat’s mouth and finally when she was done, she came back and sat down and….”
”Didn’t the Judge or the Owner thank her?” JL asks.
“No, no one said anything except when R did sit back down the lady next to us said, “Thank you.”
”Whew. At least someone took the stick outta their kitty ass!” I cry.

7:15, we’re all back home after the day at the cat show and a quick bite burrito at Jose’s in downtown San Mateo. Exhausted we plop down on the couch, with the regular non pampered cats milling about asking for kibble.

“What do you wanna do now?” Dashingly Handsome Boyfriend asks.
I shrug, reach for the remote. It’s Gene Kelley and Debbie Reynolds. Singing in the Rain. Purrfect! Settling in, we start humming along as the MGM Musical Marathon thankfully saves us from Kitty Show Overload.

I grin in tired happiness as Gene and Donald O’Connor sing about Moses to the enunciation teacher. Sure there’s not a pool, but there is rain. And afterwards, it’s That’s Entertainment and wait, yes there is a pool. A clip of Grace Kelly setting that Toy Boat in the High Society’s pool, wistfully watching as it drifts across the blue water to pick up the waiting Tabby on the other side!

Okay, I made that part up. But it makes for a good ending, to a purrfect day!

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Euphoric Bubble

“Hello? Are you there? Ooohhhh! It’s you! I just got outta the pool and I feel so much better!”

PP can’t help but eavesdrop. (Not that she’d want to if she could; think of all the lost stories!) But here in the Mills College locker room, one relieved woman on her cell phone takes over the entire situation!

“I don’t know why I have to work so hard to get here….” Feels Better Now Woman exclaims. “I just have to keep in mind how much more alive I feel after a swim. It’s incredible.” (Okay, PP might have just made up that last bit of dialogue, but it’s the genuine drift.) “Oh, it was wonderful. And then I got in the hot tub and did some little ballet over the bar stretches (PP isn’t making that up since she doesn’t know what it means—she can guess, but not absolutely, esp. in the context of the hot tub having no ballet bars.) “Well, did you take your temperature? And….? Yes….Where does it bother you? In your chest? Throat?....”

PP turns back to the getting-dressed-before-the-next-millennium-business at hand when FBNW shifts to the mundane of some unseen person’s ill health. Sighs as she contemplates feeling better. Yes, she does too. After a swim, it’s that almost euphoric bubble of relaxation and spaciness. Maybe it’s the swimming? PP thinks it probably has more to do with the hot tub.

Whichever.

PP just wishes she could keep it for the whole day. It dissipates so quickly. Too bad there’s no pool and hot tub wherever she ventures. Now wouldn’t that be grand? At GGU, at home, at Safeway, in the BART station, at Kaiser (they really need to have these facilities at Kaiser! How else will the patients truly THRIVE?) at all of her friends apts. Hell a pool and hot tub atop the Chandler Apts? Now wouldn’t that be something!

But yet, this is hardly ever gonna be a reality. Fantasies generally are just that.
So how to keep that just swam (or is it swum? Grammar Queen where are you?) feeling goin all day?

Imagination?
Pssshhhhaw! PP thinks imagination can only carry us so far.

How about a Generous Pool Patron?
Are you out there?
If so, please contact PP as soon as possible.
Cuz she sure as hell needs that pool at Kaiser, pronto!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Janice Gilles

“So, Carol, (This is PP’s real name. She thinks she’ll use it for this particular blog.) “You remember Janice Gilles, don’t you? She coached our team way back when at Temescal.”

I nod to my former swim team member, Brian, who now coaches the Mills Masters Team. “Of course.”

Brian shakes his head sadly, “ She passed away.”

I gasp even in my shivering wet get in the pool state. “Oh, no," I murmur.

Whatever are we supposed to say at such news? I knew her, it’s true, but not well. And I suppose the most upsetting thing about not knowing her now, is that I remember her 20 years ago. Bright, funny, passionate, enthusiastic. She was such fun as a coach. And that team! Lefkowitz and Oppenheimer,(Yes she was related somehow to That Oppenheimer), Jennifer and David and Brian, of course. Janice playfully yelling at me, “Let’s see ya put some hustle into it Jameson!” And Lefkowitz and Oppenheimer cracking up. “She has the purrfect stroke, but it slows her down!”

Sometimes, Janice would don a suit, dive into the water, swim a quick few laps with the fast lane, the Barracudas. Graceful and sleek, she cut through the water effortlessly.

And now….she’s gone? It’s just so strange. Where does all that energy and vitality and sheer water talent go? Is there a Big Pool in the sky for us swimmers?

But I guess it's all part of the aging process. People you know start dying...But I was shocked. And asked Brian, “What happened to her?”
”She had a heart condition.”
“Wow…she seemed so healthy." I shake my head, not asking the detail of this, then venture the obvious question, "How old was she? Like our age?”
Brian nods, “A little younger actually, 48.”
I nod. Assume Brian was talking about himself. Janice was exactly my age. Very eerie, particularly since I was on my way to Kaiser today to get my melanoma skin checked.

Damn.

“Yeah,” Brian continued, “She was my mentor. She’s the reason I began coaching. She really showed us all how it could be FUN!”
I nod, still stunned.
“She had a son too, a nine year old and her husband……” He begins to choke up, but then pulls himself up.
I nod sympathetically, ‘Her poor family…..” My voice trails off, as Brian turns and starts collecting kickboards to begin wrapping up his team's workout.

Yet, I truly don’t know what to say. Of course her family must be devasated. She was so young. Gingerly, I climb into the cool water, with the gray drizzle it seems even less inviting, and begin my laps, shuddering at the cold. Or is it something else? The Grim Reaper? He’s there. Right around the corner or so it seems lately what with Janice dying and Wendy’s friend, K, in the car accident, and William Talcott earlier this summer.

But yet, as I turn and head back down the lane my heart pounding, my skin in goosbumples, I think hell, at least I’m alive. I may be cold and I may be worried about cancer and jobs and traffic and weather, but I’m not dead. Wow that felt very weird to type. But my senses or, sensitivities, do keep my heart pumping and remind me that it’s all part of moving through the water so to speak.

Turning at the end again, I watch as Cute Polka Dot Bikini Girl gets into the lane next to me and proceeds to do the head outta the water breaststroke. I follow in my lane and we end up at the opposite wall at about the same time. She turns. Gives me a dazzling shy smile.

Grinning, I nod and make my turn.

Yes, I do know I’m alive. And thanks to CPKBG, I’m beguiled into continuing even though the water is a little on the cold side.

The air around me certainly isn’t!

So take that, Grim Reaper!

And to Janice, may you have found your own beguiling smiles in the Big Purrfect Pool up in the blue blue sky!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

SILENCE IN ALBANY?

How many times have you been in a women’s (or men's--tho this phenomenon might be more common in the male domain) locker room without any talking? I’m talking (no pun intended) utter silence? No one even saying ‘excuse me’ when they walk in front of you getting out of the showers. No one asking to borrow a smite of conditioner. No one commenting on the water temp being too hot or too cold.

No one talking. Period.

PP has been thinking about it for the last 24 hours after her silent swim at the Bay Area’s renowned Albany Pool. A pool she’s been hearing rave reviews about for years!

Yet, no one spoke to anyone in the locker room. It was just weird.

And when PP thinks about it….well….she just can’t think of another instance that was quite so dramatically oppressively silent. And PP’s been swimming all over the world.

Was there talking in the women’s locker room in Dalian, China? Hell yeah! Lots of chatter and gossip and giggling and ogling and touching and scrubbing and sheer boisterous delight. Of course, PP couldn’t understand a word since her Chinese is nil, but there was talking. And lots of it!

Was there talking in Montreal? Oui oui oui! Again, PP couldn’t understand unless they were chatting about amour, caf├ęs or croissants, but hell what else do you need to discuss?

And the other Bay Area pools? Talking at Lions? Oh yeah! Lots of friendly and warm concerned chatter about relationships, kids, jobs, hair, lotion, music, politics, weather, and cancer. At Temescal? Sure of course. It may be a little cooler here, but still someone talks if only to comment on what a nice swim she had or the hassle of getting there after work. El Cerrito’s outdoor lovely pool? Sure, the women talk about this and that. Actually PP can’t remember what they talk about here, but they do talk. Otherwise she’d remember that.

And Club Mills? Well, if you’ve been reading this blog, you know they talk at Mills.

But Albany?
No One talked. And while PP respects each swimmer’s private post swim space out, this felt different. Like no one wanted to even make eye contact, let alone chit chat.

What was it?

It was an especially dreary locker room. With no square inch on the floor free from puddles of icky cement water. So PP couldn’t even put on her pretty panties without getting a wet toe caught.

GROSS!!!

So, yeah, maybe the yuckiness of the place didn’t exactly inspire anyone to stand around and chat. But yet…..here was the same Crazed Pink Suited Woman that PP had almost run into multiple times (Albany has the wretched three wide lane organization where everyone is supposed to swim up the middle and down the sides, but some people just swim in big spastic splashes all over the place. Hence much obstacle course swimming and near crashes.) So, CPSW was there in the shower with PP soaping up and staring straight ahead. PP tried a hesitant smile but….no eye contact. PP tried this with another young woman standing across from her in the shower. She’d had on a cute black one piece with hibiscus flowers on the front and PP was gonna ask if she’d gotten it in Hawaii, but then again, the moment came and went and Hibiscus Flower Woman had looked away. No friendly smile even.

It was just weird.

So, PP wonders what’s up with Albany Pool? It is just a conservative little community where everyone is afraid of anyone new and so they don’t talk to strangers? Yet, Lap Swimmers usually swim at the same time, same day, same lane. And Albany’s times are very limited—only 1 hour to swim laps before the next program begins. So these women, theoretically, swam with each other every Sat. afternoon between 2:30 and 3:30. Or did they not? Was this afternoon where PP had happened in on her quest for an indoor pool the same story for all these women? None of them had been there before and so everyone was shy?

PP finds this hard to believe with a dozen or so women all morosely trying to get dressed without touching the floor.

Maybe it was the floor? It even had passable floor potential with cute little cement circles carved into the cement by what looked like upside down Campbell’s soup cans.
Yet the guncky water factor superseded the cuteness pretty darn fast.

Maybe it was the floor, PP thinks now as she tries to guess at the other obvious reasons for Albany’s Silence. (Tiredness, Crankiness, Anit-Socialness, Pre-occupiedness, Newness, hell, who knows? But PP does enjoy making up these noun form reasons. They’re so possible.)

Will PP return to Albany Pool? Most probably. It is indoors and the water is 84 degrees. Two very important features. Will these outweigh the spastic circle swimming and the silent gunky locker room?

PP thinks so. Hell, next time she goes she’s gonna raise a ruckus in that locker room and ask to borrow someone’s conditioner!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Hazards of Morning Swims

8:10 am, PP is trying to get on the stupid freeway in the stupid commuter zone to swim in the stupid morning before the stupid sun is at its stupid zenith.

Glancing down Hudson Street, she sees the carpooler cars lined up, collecting passengers for their heinous commute across the Bay Bridge. The signal is red, so of course, PP is waiting till the coast is clear to make her turn. But it’s hard. The carpooler cars are crazed and spastic. It’s difficult to tell whether they’re gonna go on their green light or keep idling in line for their passengers.

So, PP waits. And waits. And waits. Seems like over a minute, but probably just 30 seconds or so till…..

THUUNK!!!
Goddamn it. Some idiot has just rear-ended her! PP feels the thud, her neck snapping back minutely.
Shit.
PP glances in her rearview mirror. A crazed caffeine deprived (obviously, or he wouldn’t have hit PP’s geo) is gesticulating wildly behind his windshield. Are they gestures of apology? Anger? Frustration?

It’s hard to tell. PP knows the protocol is to pull over and exchange car license insurance info, but where to pull over as the light turns green, finally, in her favor? Also, does she really wanna confront this guy face to face?

So she gets on the freeway, the Crazed Rear Ending Guy still bouncing wildly round in his seat as he accelerates up the ramp behind her.
Damn.
PP’s been hit by a nutcase. Great. Well, of course he’s a nutcase; otherwise he wouldn’t have hit her.Though to give him the benefit of the doubt, PP realizes that she mighta been takin her foot on and offfa the break in anticipation of the carpooling spazes….so he mighta thought she was going when in fact, she wasn’t!

“Damn! damn!! Shit !!!!Shit!!!” PP hisses aloud as she creeps onto the traffic laden highway. This is one of the many reasons she hates to swim in the morning! The goddamn traffic. And now a goddamn accident.

Yet was it really an accident? PP thinks not. Though what if her neck is hurt? Damn. She shoulda stopped. Gotten his info. Sued him for a million bucks. That would solve all her job woes. Hell she could buy an indoor pool and swim at any time of the day.

Damn! Why hadn’t she stopped?

PP watches as CRRG speeds away. A ratty old white Honda? Acura? PP strains to get the license number….MUH431? Yes. Remember this and then look it up on the DMV website and get his info and sue him…

Yeah, right. PP knows that even if this were possible, she’s just not the suing type. Some people are. She can hear her friend, Miss W, goin on and on. You could sue the asshole and make a mint and quit your stupid job at stupid FFU and then ….

PP sighs as she pulls offa the freeway at the Mills College exit, MacArthur. Parks in the pool lot. (This is one advantage of swimming in the morning--there’s plenty of parking. Hell it might be the ONLY advantage!)

PP gets out. Inspects the bumper. It’s fine. ‘Bumpers’ good. That’s the geo motto. And it’s true. But what about her neck? What if the asshole had hurt her with the impact? Damn.

PP sighs as she heads into the pool to bother the anatomy studying Cute Girl. “How’s the anatomy going today?”
CG grins, she’s more animated today. “It’s going.”
“It’s the same as it always is.” Some Smart Ass Lifeguard Guy that PP has never seen announces.
“Actually, no it isn’t!” CG exclaims. “There’s all sorts of things that they’re discovering that they don’t know what they are! They find these organs and they look at it and say, now what’s this? And they don’t know!”

“Really?” PP’s intrigued. Maybe the CRRG is missing a vital organ that directs the motor capabilities. Or he has an extra organ that keeps telling him to step on the gas even if there’s a car stopped in front of him!

PP grins. Yeah, that musta been it, as she collects her pool equipment from CG and heads into the locker room, rubbing her neck in tender worry as she plops her gym bag down on the bench.