Monday, May 28, 2007


They are very serious. The duck Lifeguards. She sits placidly on the side of Capt. Gwen’s Harbor Bay Pool, watching serenely as CG kicks back and forth, back and forth. Then Pool Puss enters, delighted to no end to have a couple of quakers as her audience. But then realizes, no it’s not entertainment for them. They’re working. As witnessed by Ms. Quacker nudging Mr. Quacker out of the water and up onto the deck. Time to stop swimming for god sakes! There are people swimming! And lord knows, they need watching.

And so he does as she bids. Flapping up and out of the turquoisy misty water and up onto the deck next to her. Stands first on one webbed foot then the other. Tucking the unused one up under his broad round feathered belly as he stares intently at the two swimmers. For true to form, Capt. G’s pool is all theirs.

With the exception of the Duck Guards who know the pool will be all theirs again soon. When those darn people get out!

And out they do eventually. After a lovely, languid magical swim. The Ducks never taking their beady eyes from the two swimmers. PP giggling every time she passes them.

“Hey, G, did you see we have Duck Lifeguards tonight?” PP hollers over the lane line at her friend.

Capt. G shakes her head and grins. “Yeah, they’re here in the morning a lot. But haven’t seen them at night before,” pulling her goggles down over her eyes and diving off at a brisk crawl.

PP thinks this must be a sign. To have the Duck Guards here for HER swim. Esp. since she hasn’t been to Capt, G’s pool in months. The ducks musta known she was coming!

“Whew! That was so nice!” Capt. Gwen exclaims as they stumble spacedely out of the Club House back out to the parking lot, their wet heads nodding thankfully. “There’s just nothing like swimming!”

“Yup!” PP agrees. It’s so obvious.

“You know, for a while there, I was goin thro this existential crisis and even tried joining a few churches,” CG chuckles, shaking her wet head.
“You’re kidding!”
“Yeah, can you believe it? I tried all these different kinds of churches. Christian Churches. Humanitarian Churches. Unitarian Churches. And I’d be getting up early on Sunday mornings and thinking, Damn, I’d rather be at the Pool! And so then I’d skip church the next week and go the pool instead and think, yeah, duh, Church doesn’t make me feel this good! Only the Pool does!”

“Praise the Lord!” PP giggles.
“Yeah! And you know, I’ve talked to some of these other women that I’ve gotten to know since swimming here the last few months and they all say the same thing. NOTHING makes US feel better than swimming. Not Church. Not some Dumb Aerobics Class.
“Not sex?” PP grins as she climbs into CG’s family van.
Capt. G got that little gleam in her eye that PP knows so well….”
“Well…..maybe not sex, ok, not better than Good Sex!” she qualifies, laughing.

And PP joins in! It’s so true!
Yup, it’s the Church of the Pool. The Guru of the Swim! The Spirit of the Water.

Hell, whatever it is, Hallelujah!

Now if only they could get that Pool High organized somehow. They could go on cable T.V. and sing the praises of swimming laps, and kicking back and breathing rhythmically.

Hell, it’d be a moneymaker for sure.

As long as the congregation could swim, that is.

Or if they couldn’t?

Well, there’s always the Duck Guards!

Quack !

PP sighs happily to herself as CG pulls out of the parking lot and heads back home, leaving the ducks to swim playfully in their very own Quacker Church!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


PP hears lots of talk about child rearing in women’s locker rooms at the Pool. Sons. Daughters. Grandkids. Nephews. Nieces. And she’s always so relieved about THAT choice—no kid talk for her! (Though she must admit that her niece is her Favorite Person in the World ala Jonathan Lethem’s latest novel—Lucinda is so sad when Fancher Autumnbreast tells the band to just imagine their Favorite Person in the world to help with nerves for their first radio gig and Luce doesn’t even know who this is for her Ex, the band’s artsy kangaroo guy. Yet PP has to grin. She knows absolutely who her Favorite Person is, her niece, Ms. Theadosia Lohnes. Hands down.)

But PP is pretty sure she’s never given her sis any childrearing advice about her niece. At least not since Thea hit puberty.

But in Pool locker rooms, childrearing advice bounces offa the cement walls, bubbles up in the hot tub and echoes in the showers.

“I just want him to get a taste of the Real World. He’s had this tutoring job for the last year through his Senior Advisor, and he may be able to keep it part time this summer, but I really am looking forward to the day when he’s gainfully employed.”

“Yeah, I hear you. My daughter has been doing this volunteer work for the California Teachers Union and while it’s been a good experience for her, she really needs to find a pay check.”

Middle-aged Montclair Swim Club ladies are all about the Real World.

As they are at the Oakland Y:

“I tol her, what you mean your daddy’s stepping on your head? And she gets her little dolly out and lays her on the floor and spread her hair out and then steps real gently on its head with her foot and says like that. And I shake my head and say, Lord have mercy! this chil is bein abused by her daddy. There ain’t no doubt about that. I gotta go report him to the child protective services and then she tell me how he gave her beer and I say how you know it was beer and she say it was in a brown paper bag and it taste real nasty and I think to myself yeah her daddy is a drinker he probably did give her beer….”

“And how ol was she? Only 6 right?”

“That’s right. Only 6 and a chil psychologist she tol us how a kid know when they’re not wanted by the time they’s 4 years ole.

“Ummmmhuhhh….yeah….ain’t that the truth. You want in here sweetheart?”

Pink shower capped marshmallow shaped brown woman nods and gives a toothy grin as the Concerned Moms move over in the hot tub, unblocking the stairs.

PP moves over to make herself even smaller in the corner—no one notices her. She’s not a mom and she’s not big! And here at the Downtown Oakland YMCA, Big Moms Rule the hot tub.

But she’s equally inconspicuous at the Montclair Swim Club. She’s not a Mom and she’s not Rich.

“Ordering the limos for the Prom was such a hassle.”

“Yeah, I bet.”

”My son ordered the limo and then tried to collect money from all the kids but it’s hard to get the money out of the girls. There’s all this confusion about whether or not the girls should even pay so my son ended up footing the bill.”

“My son did this really cute thing where he actually ordered a school bus for the prom. It cost a little more, but it was really cute.”

“Wow. What a great idea. Next year, when Josh’s prom comes up, I’m gonna suggest that.”

“But again, it doesn’t solve the problem of getting the girls to pay their fair share.”

Oh those Wily Girls, PP thinks. Always trying to get a free ride. Where the hell did she go wrong? The free rides were there in her youth, weren’t they? But she didn’t take advantage of them and now look at her—shuffling from marginal teaching job to marginal teaching job. Working her ass off grading ESL essays while still trying to write the Great American Soap Opera Novel.

What’s a PP to do? Whine about it in her blog? This works for her. At the very least, the Pool is full of stories! From Oakland to Montclair, the stories can make her thankful for her swimming life and bring out a giggle or two.

Grinning, PP heads outta the Montclair Swim Club to meet her fellow non-breeding teacher friend, Ms. W., sunning herself in the afternoon light. Tells her about the ‘kid limo talk’ in the locker room.

Miss W chuckles and shakes her head. “Well, that’s one thing we did right. Not have kids!”

And PP smiles, happy with at least one choice that she’s made. No kids.

Well, with the exception of That Favorite Person in her life, the one and only, completely Fabulous, Miss Theadosia Lohnes!

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Perfect Pink Princess

She stood sulking in a Perfect Pink Princess Pout. Arms crossed over her bare bikini brown belly. Slender hip thrust out in rebellious defiance. Big brown eyes purposefully glaring past the exasperated swim teacher trying to get her to ‘cooperate.’ Banished from the pool because she wouldn’t answer the teacher’s question. PP didn’t hear exactly what the question had been, but it didn’t matter.

PPPP was not budging!

PP couldn’t help but grin to herself as she turned at the wall to start her next lap. The little hellion was quietly making a scene. All of her classmates were subdued and unsure. Splashing less boisterously in awe of PPPP’s fortitude?

And the teacher? She was pissed. PP couldn’t blame her. With a half a dozen or so 7 or 8 year olds she had her hands full. And while the group, as all kids seemed to be at the Y, were young and obnoxious, none of them could compete with PPPP’s sullen stubbornness.

This is what PP admired. Sure, she was being a pain in the ass for the poor exasperated teacher, but she had a quiet style that yelled, I WILL NOT OBEY YOU NO MATTER WHAT YOU SAY OR DO! I AM MY OWN PERSON AND IF I DON’T WANT TO ANSWER YOUR STUPID QUESTION YOU CAN’T MAKE ME, CAN YOU?

“You ready to cooperate with me yet?” Exasperated Teacher asked, the edge to her voice snaking into the chlorinated air.

No way. No how. No answer.

“Okay, it’s your call. Amber, Jason, Taisha and Lionel, Tiffany, right? Swim 3 laps fast now!” Sighing, ET glared at PPPP before following along with the other ‘Cooperative Ones’.

PPPP continued to stare over the top of the teacher’s head. Her gaze unwavering. No way in hell was she gonna crumble. Not now. Not 5 minutes from now. Not ever.

Plump Doe Eyed Lifeguard sauntered over to help. Put a hand lightly on PPPP’s wet shoulder, “Are you ok?”

No answer, of course. If she was gonna stonewall the teacher, she sure as hell wasn’t gonna break down for any Stupid Sympathetic Lifeguard.
“Is she ok?” SSL hollered at Exasperated Teacher.
“Yeah, she’s fine.”
”What’s the matter with her?”
”She wouldn’t answer a question for me.”
“Oh…. Okay…..”
And with another light pat on PPPP’s slim shoulder, the SSL shrugged before heading off to the locker room, leaving ET to figure it out.

Of course, PPPP’s show drew a crowd. Gathered above the pool peering through the glass lookout down on the deck, friends and family of all the children were pointing and mouthing. PP picked PPPP’s mom outta the crowd as she shook her head, and disappeared, only to appear on deck minutes later, all motherly concern in smart white pedal pushers and lime green top, her shoulder length black hair falling stylishly in her dark eyes.

Turning around at the far end of the pool, PP watched in delight as mom kneeled down to chat with ET, shaking her head, arguing? Then rising, turned to her Uncooperative Child, taking her aside and talking seriously at her. Released? PPPP suddenly relaxed. Began dancing round on the deck, almost smiling.

What had mom said to her, PP wondered? Don’t worry honey, that Mean Teacher doesn’t matter. You don’t need to answer her stupid questions. Just keep acting like a little Prima Dona and dance?

PP began her warm down, pulling long slow strokes under the gray blue water. Had the lane to herself for a moment with both Rubric Cap Woman and Spastic White Guy Splasher now gone. Remembering herself at that age. The stubborn resolve born of ‘uncooperativeness.’ Not that PP had ever been an uncooperative child round any pool activities. But she surely must have manifested a few quiet tantrums on the tennis court!

Finishing up her laps, PP looked up. PPPP and mom were gone. The other little fish were getting out, giggling and pushing, but quiet for a group of kids at the Y.

Wonder what had happened to PPPP? PP mused. Did she just get to change, go home, watch ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and never have to come back to the Y ever again?

Grinning, PP heaved herself out of the pool. Hope not, she thought to herself, cause PPPP was certainly her own Dancing Star here at the YMCA!

And PP is certain that every pool deserves to have it’s own Perfect Pink Diva!

Mad as Hell!

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” Remember that line? Remember that movie? Network , right? What was everyone so ma...