Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Elvis is Cheese!

“MEEEOW!!!” PP glanced up at the watery echo as she stopped at the wall to turn to behold the always fabulous Ms. CC grinning down at her from the deck.
“Hey!” PP smiled back in surprise. “You takin the day offa work?”
“Cool! And here you are at the Pool!”
“Where else? I just flew back from my high school reunion down in LA and thought, hell, it’s only 5 o’clock. Plenty of time for a swim!”
“Well, c’mon in, Kitty, the water’s fine!” and with a happy splash, PP took off back down the lane, thinking how the hell is it that CC still looked so goddamn great in a bikini? It’s like time stood still for her. PP remembered when they were housemates together over in Piedmont by the Rose Garden and CC used to go down to the gardens to sun herself in her cute little bikinis. Yup. You can take the girl outta LA, but you can’t take the LA outta the girl. And CC sure proved it.

Sighing happily underwater, PP smiled to herself. The pool. It brought everyone together. Even CC who was never a ‘swimmer’ was hooked now. The first thing she does when she gets off a plane is head for the pool.Yup. That was proof. She’d caught the Swimmer’s Addiction. Obsession. Bug. Whatever you wanna call it, CC had it. And that was good. At least as far as PP was concerned. And CC too, she was sure.

“How was your swim?” PP asked the Lovely I as she sank blissfully into the Hot Tub after leaving CC to her laps.
“IT was the Best! I mean it! It was the Best swim I’ve had in 2 and half years!”
“Wow! Too cool.”
“Yeah, I’m not sure why. When I first got in there was this kinda splashy guy but then he got out and this really smooth swimmer got in and I tell you it was better than having a lane to myself. She was so inspiring.” The Lovely I shook her head in wondrous amazement.
“Oh, I know what you mean,” PP agreed. “Sometimes, when I’m swimming with a really good swimmer in my lane it can really push me to swim harder.”
”No, it’s not that. I don’t know how to describe it exactly. It’s just that I had the best swim.”
PP nodded. She really did think she understood what the Lovely I meant. Swimming with someone who was a Splashing Monster really made the entire experience almost heinous, but on the other hand, if the person you were sharing a lane with was super smooth and sleek and expert, it put the entire lane into another realm. It was like you were both in this other higher water plane. It was Swimming Nirvana!

“And I must tell you how much I’m enjoying Elvis.”
“Yes. I watched King Creole and my friend who’s this librarian film archivist said that that was absolutely the best Elvis movie and I have to say, it really was good. After you wade thro all the Cheese. And let me tell you there’s layers and layers of Cheese. Elvis is so Cheese. But once you peel all that Cheese away, well, I just hafta say, Elvis….He was HOT!”

PP giggled. Of course, Elvis was Hot. And the Cheese? PP just loved this description. Cheese instead of Cheesy. Or Cheesecake. Or….

“And I just never got it before, you know? Like I was telling you about Marilyn Monroe how I had this epiphany when I was watching The Misfits and it hit me, damn, she was HOT! And I don’t know what it is. Maybe it just takes decades upon decades of experience to wade thro all the Cheese before you really see what’s under it.”
“I think I know what you mean,” PP nodded. “But to tell you the truth, I’ve always thought Marilyn Monroe was HOT and Elvis was Cheese!”
“Hee hee hee.”

Grinning, PP glanced over at the Slim Handsome Tatoo Guy whom JL had noticed years ago but had claimed he wasn’t her type. PP had thought and still did think, he was cute, but now she could tell that he was having a good time eavesdropping on the Lovely I’s Elvis Analysis.

PP smiled slowly as she watched SHTG slide out of the tub and amble lazily across the deck, stand at the edge of the deck and stretch sexy into the blue sky.

“Did you see that guy?” the Lovely I asked.
“Oh, yeah.”
“I think he liked our conversation.”
“Yeah, I think so." And who woulnd't? Elvis. Cheese. Marilyn. What’s not to like?

Watching him stretch PP grinned to herself.

No, he wasn’t Elvis.
And, no he definitely wasn’t Cheese.
And yeah, he might not be JL’s Type.

But Hell, he sure was HOT!

No denying that, as PP watched him give a final stretch, then glanced her way to give a sly smile before diving into the turquoisy golden afternoon pool.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Piano Time at the Y

“Hey! Is that Carol?” (PP’s real name outta the pool.) Damn, PP thought, someone is recognizing her on Broadway St. in front of the Y? How the hell could that be? Well, Oakland, for all it’s thousands of residents, actually was a small town. In an odd way. Though the times it had happened here at the Y, she was actually in the pool or the locker room.

Thank God she’d brushed her hair and teeth before heading to the Pool today. Sometimes she didn’t bother, esp. on a Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t like she was gonna run into anyone she knew.

Or so she thought.

Shielding her eyes from the bright sun with her hands, PP peered round the little tree shading her prime parking spot she’d scored as a smiling, handsome, dark young man came beaming toward her with a pretty blonde woman in tow.

Oh! It was DD, her mostly absent piano student. Thank goodness she recognized him, which really impressed her since she’s only met with him about 6 times in the last 6 months.

“Is that D?” PP called back, as she double-checked that the tow away signs didn’t apply to Sundays.
“Yeah. Hey what do you know? This is my wife, M. M this is my Piano Teacher. Wow!”
PP shook M’s hand, as she shifted her pool bag to the other arm. Her neck was killing her lately—-it was better today, but still the heft of the pool bag was starting to hurt.
“Nice to meet you, M. You guys belong to the Y?”
”Yeah, we do,” DD beamed. “Wow. It’s so cool to see you. We’ve been trying to get a hold of each other on the phone for days and now, well, here you are,” DD addressed his wife, who smiled in a forced sorta let’s get going way. Which was fine by PP. She didn’t really need to stand around chit chatting with her neck hurting. The hot tub was her main destination today.

“Well, who needs the phone when you have the Y!” PP joked, eliciting an amused guffaw from DD and a confused sigh from the wife.
“Yeah!” DD agreed, “Well, I guess we can just get started again in the fall on Tuesdays?”
”That’d be great,” PP nodded, trying to be professional even though she was on her way to work out. “Will Tuesdays work better for you?”
“Yeah, I think so,” he nodded, eyes shining.
“Good, cuz it’s hard to make much progress with only once a month.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. I just have to travel so much. But I’m still really liking Fur Elise. So I’ll just keep practicing on that and the other book….”
The wife did nothing to stifle a yawn.
“Great.” PP smiled as she headed for the stairs. “I’ll give you a call in Sept. You guys swim?”
“No,” DD shook his head. “I mean, sometimes I do in the mornings after my workout, but nah, we do weights and stuff.”
The wife headed up the stairs not entering the conversation whatsoever. Which was fine by PP. Though it was interesting to meet his wife. He was so cute and charming. Wonder what he saw in her? Oh she was cute, in a young blondey way, but personality- wise? Well, PP didn’t give her any Gold Stars.

“So see ya in Sept,” DD called out as he leapt up the stairs to catch up with M.
“Yeah, see you then. Enjoy Beethoven in the meantime!”
Turning and giving her a most charming grin, DD waved at her, “Oh yeah! You know I will!””
And with a final flounce of her ponytail, M opened the door as DD followed her into the dark cavern of the Y to do some weights and thankfully, stay out of the pool! The fewer non-swimmers, the better. PP just hoped she wouldn't see M in the hot tub, but if she did?

Hell, PP grinned as she helped herself to a couple of towels from the check-in desk, she'd just quiz M about how to do weights. Bring her out of her shell. Get some Muscle Mass tips. Oh, and try to find out just what the hell DD saw in her!

Monday, July 23, 2007


“TALK TO ME! TALK TO ME! BLIND MAN COMIN THROUGH! You can see me! You can hear me! I
can’t see you. But I can hear you. TALK TO ME!!!! COMIN THROUGH!!!

PP watched in astonishment as indeed, the Blind Man, a Majestic African American Man in his 50’s? 60’s?, dressed dapperly in white slacks, black dress shirt and dark glasses, came barreling through the Y. Down two flights of stairs, his blind man’s white stick clacking at the rails, then down to the bottom, turning the corner, and careening dangerously close to a frightened woman trying to read about the Y’s upcoming photo shoot of YMCA members on Aug. 15.

Blind Man continued to holler, narrowly missing Sign Reading Woman, her eyes wide with fear, as PP followed behind, grinning. Of course it wasn’t really funny. But yet, it was. Catching SRW’s eye, they both giggled.

PP smiled and sighed. Maybe it was a good thing to get out of the house. No such adventures were gonna happen to her lying round in bed, feeling like a tired, bluesy lump. It was so much better to come to the YMCA and realize just how easy her life was. Hell, she wasn’t blind! Nor had she been run over by the blind man. Both good things. PP just hoped he wasn’t headed for the pool.

Now that would be an adventure.

Fortunately, no sight of him in the water. But lots of other sights abounded. Of course there were the usual suspects: The Swimming Hemophiliac got the lifeguards to give him his own lane by taking one away from the stupid rec. swim kiddies. PP liked this. The Various Chinese Lady Swimmers with their shower caps and spastic exercises. The laid-back African American Woman sharing PP’s lane, her big fins barely helping her to get across the pool.

Then the not so usual ones--today there was the group of Retards. Ok, PP knows they’re not called retards anymore, or MR’s or any such other derogatory label, what are they called? Developmentally Disabled? Ummm….rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it? Anyway the DD Swimmers ambled in, standing around the deck, leaning against the dingy walls, confused and frowning, numbering round 5 or 6, till their leader, an Authoritative Young African American Counselor Type, was able to procure them some pool space.

And of course, after jumping in, IT was instantaneous. The frowns disappeared. The laughter erupted. The Power of the Pool! It brought joy to everyone! Even the DD Swimmers? And why not? They deserved pool time as much as anyone else. Even the blind man, PP was certain, could have swam here at the Y. But frankly, she was glad that the Blind Man wasn’t swimming with the DD Swimmers. Though this mighta made an excellent story, it certainly woulda been too much pandemonium, esp. for PP today.

Because today, yes, the Pool was too much for her. While she enjoyed the euphoria of the DD S, she also was feeling like some CALM might have been more therapeutic. But their rapture was contagious, and PP had to grin as she watched them splashing and laughing as one of them, an enormous white guy with big splotches on his back of pink and brown, tried unsuccessfully to use a kickboard. The others gathered around, trying to show him, while their leader held up a kickboard and demonstrated on the deck, but of course he couldn’t kick. This, PP had to admit, musta been confusing for this group, and she thought for a moment, but only for a moment, of going over and demonstrating for them. But then decided, no, it was too much. She didn’t want to excite or confuse them anymore than they already were.

Then a momentary Y miracle-- PP had her own lane, but this too, was fleeting. Flailing Chinese Woman got in cuz of the swimming hemophiliac’s lane hogging. She was nice enough, grinning and trying to stay on her side, but she just couldn’t. Just kept zigzagging slowly and spastically down the middle of the lane. Every time PP wanted to swim past her, it was a delicate process, of slowing down, looking both ways underwater, (so as to not touch SH) and then blazing past her. Finally FCW got out and once again, PP was in her own lane.

Happy happy happy.

But then, damn! What the hell was that? PP stopped mid lap as a wake of white water hit her in the face. Glancing behind her, she spied the Splash Culprit who’d almost mowed her down, plow to the other side and do a fancy splashy flip turn.

Oh, One of Those!

And he hadn’t even bothered to tell her he was joining her lane?


PP was almost done in more ways than one. Pausing at the wall, One of Those Swimmer stopped for a moment to adjust his goggles. PP glanced down at his tattooed arm. Hell, was that the Grim Reaper?

She started to grin. Leave it to PP to have the Grim Reaper join her lane. And when he saw her laughing, he smiled. Handsome, young, long eye lashes gazing thro the water drops. PP couldn’t help herself. Had to ask, “Is that the Grim Reaper on your arm?”

Nodding, he beamed. “Yeah, it’s not finished yet though.” And then he dove off in a splashy hurry. PP shook her head. Who the hell would tattoo the Grim Reaper on his arm? (For of course, it would be a guy. Somehow PP couldn’t imagine a woman having such a tattoo.) And then what about it wasn’t finished? Like was he gonna color the scythe blood red? Or give the cape and figure a darker hue?

Like it wasn’t enough that the Grim Reaper was already easily recognizable?

PP glanced up at the cute young, blonde lifeguard trying to find a lane for Confused Dark-Curls Swimmer. “Here,” PP called up to them, “you can have my lane. But watch out, That Guy has the Grim Reaper on his arm!”
Blonde Lifeguard looked suitably stricken. “What do you mean? Like he has it tattooed on his arm?”
PP nodded. “Yeah.”
“Whew. I thought maybe you meant that he had a Killer Stroke!”
PP cracked up. “NO, but yeah, now that you mention it, I do think they’re connected!”

D-C Swimmer watched fearfully as the Grim Reaper Swimmer turned at the far wall and started a splashy swim back their way.
“I think I’ll go over here,” she pointed to the lane furthest away from him as PP gathered up her fins, water and mask.
“Yeah, good call,” PP giggled as the GRS made another flip turn, splashing his wrath all over them.

Making her way into the Locker room, PP suddenly heard a booming voice, “TALK TO ME! TALK TO ME! BLIND MAN COMING IN!”

Laughing, she hoped he’d find the Grim Reaper. Why she was sure the Blind Man would be able to contend with the Grim Reaper by just bopping him with his cane. Esp. since he wasn’t finished yet….


Actually, PP just made that last part up about the Blind Man, but she had you goin there for a minute, yes?

Hee heee heee!

So when next you visit the pool, especially, the Oakland Y, beware the Hollering Blind Man and heads up for the Grim Reaper Swimmer! But if it’s adventure you want, head on over. Though do be sure to keep your ears, eyes and arms safe—you never know what Evil lurks in the halls or under the water at the YMCA!

Thursday, July 19, 2007


“When is your birthday exactly?” PP had asked the Lovely I at her 'Early Birthday Party’, which is its own story, and actually does have some pool connections, but…..PP’s gonna save it for another blog and focus on this birthday!
“Monday!” the Lovely I exclaimed. “Wanna go to the pool?”
”Of course!” PP grinned. Where else would any of us want to be for our birthdays but the pool?
“…and the Little Animal Farm?” LI asked hopefully.
“The Little Animal Farm? Where’s that?”
“Up at Tilden. It’s a funny thing but every year it seems that I find myself up at the little animal farm to feed the goats. It’s kinda become a tradition.”
“What a wonderful tradition. I’ve don’t think I’ve been to the Little Animal Farm to feed the goats. Of course; let’s go there before the pool!”
“Perfect,” the Lovely I beamed.
So, it was a plan for her birthday. Naturally, PP was a part of since it involved the Pool. First the Little Animal Farm. Then the Pool. Who could ask for a better birthday?

“Hey, what’s that hanging from the goat’s neck?” LI’s GF exclaimed. “It looks like hanging nipples. Why that would give a whole new meaning to ‘necking’!”
PP and Lovely I cracked up. It was true. The goat did have these hanging thingies on its neck. Though PP thought they looked more like little furry elongated teardrops than tits. But the teat image was good for a chuckle---one of many provided by LI’s GF.
“And look at that One’s penis. Or is that another teat?”
“I think they’re all girls,” the Lovely I admonished as she took off another stalk of celery to feed to the chomping goats.
“No….that definitely looks like a penis.” GF walked around to get a better look, as PP and LI followed her dubiously.
“I still think they’re all girls and that’s not a penis.”
“Maybe he/she’s a tranee…” GF giggled. “The goats are having gender identity issues.”
They all cracked up again. The Lovely I’s GF was just too funny.

PP was delighted by the Little Animal Farm up here in the Oakland Hills. It really was a little farm, complete with a little barn, little hay stacks, a little grassy fenced in meadow for the black rams (more on these guys later) , the goats in their little pen, the cows and their little baby calves, the chickens and geese, and most astonishing of all, a GIANT sow ready to birth her little piglets any moment.
“Hey!” The Lovely I exclaimed, reading the signage on the pig’s pen, “she’s due to have her piglets today, July 17.”
“Your birthday! Today!” Necking GF enthused.
“Wow! Wouldn’t it be super cool if she had her piglets on your birthday?” PP asked.
“Oh yeah,” Lovely I agreed as she gazed over at the monstrous sow heaving asleep in the noonday breeze. “She really looks like she’s ready to have ‘em. It almost makes me wanna come up here everyday to see them!”
“Too bad her shit smells so bad,” NGF wrinkled her nose as they all head up to look at the baby calf.

“I hope the baby gets hungry and has to nurse,” LI ambled over to gaze at the enormous mama cow and her calf, who was hiding shyly in the shade out of her view. They all gathered round for while. Staring at the cows. Neither animal cooperating. Mama Cow just twitched her tail and bit her haunch to get rid of the flies. The baby just lying there, makin no move to go get some lunch.
“I wonder if she can feed herself?” NGF pondered as they watched the Mama Cow reach back to bite her backside.
“Wouldn’t that be redundant?” LI counterd. “I mean, wouldn’t that just be recycling her sustenance?”
“But then she’d be her own food source. Completely independent!” NGF proclaimed, as they continued to watch Mama Cow working her itch.
PP thought how funny it all was. Here at the little animal farm with the LI and her NGF. She needed more of this sort of animal time, esp. with this pair. They’re so funny and sincere. Just like the animals.
“I wanna walk up and see the black sheep,” the Lovely I announced, giving up on the baby calf doing anything interesting.
“Yes. Let’s!” NGF hooked her arm through the Lovely I’s as they meandered up the hill to check out the rams.

“BBBBBAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!” the rams called out, one ambling over to check out PP.
“Wow! All the animals just come right up to you!” NGF exclaimed.
PP scratched the ram on his wooly side. He’s so cute and vocal.
“Yeah, animals like me,” PP murmured, thinking how it’s always been so. Next to the pool, animals are her true love. When she was a kid, she wanted to be a vet, but then reconsidered once she got to college and found out how much math and science such a profession entailed. Plus, she knew she didn’t really have a tough enough heart for the sad moments of putting animals down when they were old or sick. So she’d given up this girlhood dream to be a vet to become a writer instead. Which was less heart wrenching, but only sometimes.
The all giggled. “I’ve never heard them make that noise before!” The Lovely I exclaimed.
“Yeah, they really like you, Swimming Kitty,” NGF agreed.
PP liked the rams too. They were so fuzzy and black and weird with their curly horns and vocal talkings. Wonder what the hell they’re saying?
“Wish we could take them to the pool with us!” PP mused.
“Ha! Wouldn’t that be fun!” NGF agreed.
“Yeah, I bet they’d float really well,” LI added in.
Obviously the Ram agreed, but sadly they had to go to the Pool without him even though PP found it very tempting to try popping him in the Geo and carting him baaaahing down the hill to Mills!

“The Little Animal Farm was so fun!” PP said, as they pulled into the Mills parking lot and collected their swimming gear.
“Isn’t it?”
“Yeah, I can totally see why it’s become a tradition on your birthday. Do you think you’ll go back this week to see if the Sow has her piglets?”
”I’d like to. We’ll see.”
PP shuffled her stuffs around, placing the Hello Kitty Kickboard on top of her pool bag. “She’s so cute,” PP smiled as she gazed down at Hello Kitty.
“Hey!” The Lovely I exclaimed, “Is she giving the ‘Thumb’s Up?”
PP held the board up to examine it more closely and yes, Hello Kitty did have a sly little thumbs up.
“You’re right! She is! Wow! How cool. Now whenever I feel like I can’t swim anymore laps, I can just glance down at her and see Hello Kitty cheering me on with her thumbs up.”
“Hee hee heee…” LI giggled as they headed into the pool.

The late afternoon light shimmered like diamonds on the luscious blue water as PP finished up her laps, her warm down with Hello Kitty under her outstretched arms. It’d been such a lovely day. The animals. The pool. The swim.

She glanced down at Hello Kitty, bobbing swiftly under the water’s surface, and spied that sly ‘thumbs up’ and grinned.
Leave it to the Lovely I to spot Hello Kitty’s Thumb’s Up.
And leave it to PP to write about it!

Thumbs up and Happy Birthday, Lovely I from Swimming Kitty, the goats, the cows, the pregnant pig, but most of all THE POOL!

Sunday, July 15, 2007


“You……swim…..verry…..well….” Compliment Hot Tub Lady smiles shyly over at PP, blinking and nodding.
PP grins, thanks her. CHTL has no clue what PP has just said—PP’s not sure where she’s from. China? Korea? Japan? Damn. You’d think it’d be easier to tell, but just like when PP was in China teaching, and her colleague, who was 20 years PP’s junior and a brunette rather than a blonde had team taught a class, everyone in the class thought the two of them were twins.
All Westerners look alike to Asians.
And all Asians look alike to Westerners?
Oh well, everyone at the Y today is good humored about it.
“Where are you from?” PP continues gently.
CHTL nods, smiles….”Korea.”
”Ah…..how do you say ‘Pool’ in Korean?”
CHTL continues to smile and nod at PP. Obviously she has no idea what PP’s saying.
“IN THE KOREAN LANGUAGE….. “Another woman, of Asian descent tries to help out. “HOW DO YOU SAY POOL?”
CHTL continues to smile, then glances over at her friend who’s been silently taking it all in. “First time.” CHTL points to her friend.
“Ah…,” all exclaim. “How lovely.” PP smiles. It is. Today. She’d gotten her own lane. Something that rarely happens, esp. on a Saturday afternoon. Initially she’d thought it was gonna be the circle swim lapping from hell. She’d split the lane with Mask Shower Cap woman, who with all her accoutrements looked like an Inspector for a Nuclear Power Plant in Iraq. With her clear shower cap covering her head. Her huge mask and snorkel covering her entire face. It was hard to tell what was underneath it all. But she’d been nice enough when PP asked if she could split the lane. Then Super Swimmer had gotten in. Young. Fit. Young. Young. Fast. Okay, you get the picture. Even when Nuclear Inspector Woman put on her Big Fins, SS outpaced both of them. It was a circle swim nightmare. But then, the lane next door opened up and PP gleefully dove into it. With each lap her breathing becoming easier. Was it possible that she’d get an entire lane to herself?

Swimming Heaven. That’s what your own lane is!

And it was. Heaven. Why PP’s Stupid Mask didn’t even leak very much. And when she paused at the end of her first 1000 yards, and noticed Nuclear Inspector Woman climbing out of the pool, taking off her mask apparatus to reveal a striking African American Princess, PP grinned.

Sometimes, the Y was so delightfully surprising. But then so was Oakland. That’s a part of why she’s lived here for so long. The surprise. The diversity. (PP hates that word—it’s so overused now), but it’s true, she thought as the Hot Tub conversation continued in its stilted hilarity.

“You…..swim……” CHTL paused, glancing over at her friend who was now blissfully ignoring the whole conversation. “…..1…” she held up one finger. “Hour?”

PP nodded. “Yes. I swim for 1 (also holding up one finger) hour. Do you?” PP had noticed the two friends in the Lap/Swim lane walking, hopping, and doing spastic moves with the noodles. It was a form of water exercise. Not PP’s variety. But still. It was in the Pool and it was therapeutic. PP could tell from their serious faces while in the pool and their contented smiles now in the Hot Tub.
CHTL blushed. “Yes. 1 hour.”

Now, they all smile at each other. “How do you say ‘How are you in Korean?” PP asks. More blank stares. Then Helpful Woman volunteers an idea. They all nod and smile. PP has no clue what they’re saying. She doesn’t know Korean, obviously, or Chinese, which is evidently where the Helpful Woman is from. So PP tries out her one phrase of Chinese, “Ni Hao Ma?” is Chinese for how are you, right?”
She frowns, shakes her head. “No. that is Mandarin.”
”Oh….” PP shrugs. She thought Mandarin was Chinese. Evidently she was mistaken. “How do you say it in Chinese?”
”You mean in Cantonese?”
Helpful Asian woman rattles off a phrase. PP doesn’t catch even one syllable of it. But the Korean women smile and nod. They know Cantonese? Maybe Cantonese and Korean are similar?

PP doesn’t think so, but no matter. They are all communicating even without the same language. It’s the language of the water. They’re all blissed out in the bubbly water after their hour swims. Relaxed. Content. Those endorphins doing their job. PP still surprises herself about what a difference swimming makes to her State of Being. She can be totally cranky, emotional, depressed and then she goes swimming. And Voila! She’s blissed out.
It’s a miracle. Really it is.

And she knows this is a common theme that she’s written about before, but she keeps coming back to the Miracle of Swimming. And thinks, who the hell needs Language when you’ve got swimming?

“Bye Bye” she calls out to the gang in the Hot Tub. “That’s English for good-bye.”
They all giggle and wave as PP languidly makes her way outta the Hot Tub and heads for the Sauna, relishing in the lack of language that can make swimming such a restorative respite from her workaday langaugy world!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Vichy Springs Finale

“Goddamnit!” PP cursed under her breath. “Are those the gleeful shrieks of children frolicking in MY POOL???!!!”
Shit. And it was her last day, her last swim at Her Vichy Springs Pool.

Yet even PP had to admit that she’d been lucky so far to have escaped this scourge of summer. Children in her pools! Esp. here at Vichy Springs. Hell, why would anyone bring their kids here? What was there for kids to do here? No T.V, no computers, no video games.

But hell, there sure was a terrific pool.

So, of course, if there were kids here, that’s where they’d be. At her pool. (Has she said that enough times? But it had felt like her pool so far. Why Oooh Why couldn’t the little Demons have waited one more day before diving in with their shrill obnoxiousness? Was that so much to ask?)

PP didn’t think so, but no one was asking her. Esp. the kids.

Trying not to cry, or scream, or run away, PP made her way toward the pool in anti- child trepidation. She just wanted to get in one last swim before they had to check out at 12 noon. Maybe the kids wouldn’t be so bad, she tried to console herself.

Or maybe she could just drown them.

PP laughed to herself as she opened the white picket gate and caught her first glimpse of the doomed culprits. Two little girls, maybe 7 or 8 years old, jumping and screaming in the water, with mom on the cell phone and bored big sister picking her toes lazily on one of the lounge chairs.

Damn, PP thought, a whole family group. Is that redundant? Aren’t families always groups? Well, maybe some are more group-like than others. Ok, whatever. The main thing is to just get in the water herself and make sure the little girls stay the hell outta her way.

And they did, of course, even though they were eager to tell PP all about it. “IT’s COLD!!!” one of them hollered at her. PP nodded, trying for a smile under her mask. At least they know the first topic of pool conversation. The water temperature. “You won’t like it!” her sister yelled in confirmation.

PP nodded, “Yeah, I know it’s cold. But I bet I can do it.”
The two girls stared at her a moment in utter confusion. She speaks? Then one of them splashed the other, diving under to pull her down below the turquoise surface,
Great, PP thought, they can drown each other as she dove into the coldness.

But, Damn, they were right. It was cold. Well, maybe it’s for the best today since they had to leave in just over an hour. The noon checkout was looming over PP’s watery workout. Why couldn’t they just stay one more day?

Well, 185 bucks a night pretty much sealed the deal. One day was all they could afford for now. And PP had to admit, it’d been a very good swimming resort, even with the little girls. Stopping to turn at the wall, she spied through her foggy mask one of them out of the water up on the deck trying on PP’s new Zoomer fins.

Goddmamnit. Those kids better not hurt her fins! But as she watched them try to walk on the deck, the fins flopping hopelessly too big on their dear little feet, DHBF got up from the lounge chair and said something to them. PP could just hear him—“You girls really shouldn’t be playing with those. They don’t belong to you or the pool. They belong to HER!”

The fins came off fast. Then more diving into the deep end and more shrieking at the cold, one sister’s little teeth were actually chattering when PP glanced up to make sure she didn’t run ‘em over.
“Hey!” PP called out, pointing, “Your teeth are chattering! You better get out before you turn into an ICE CUBE!!!”
Chattering Teeth Sister giggled, shaking her head, before diving back underwater, her sister hot on her trail.


“They’re pretty Draconian about it,” Indignant Family Man shook his head as PP, outta the icy pool now, tried to get warm in the Hot Tub. “…..making us check out at exactly 12 noon. When we asked if we could stay a little longer, till say 1 or 2 so she can swim,” he pointed to yet another child, this one quietly staring at a lizard on the side of the tub, “...they said we’d have to pay an extra fee. Can you believe That?”

DHBF started in, playing Devil’s Advocate. His favorite pastime. “Actually, I think they’re not so bad. I mean, they do let us stay till noon. A lot of places make you get out at 11.”
“I just think for 256 bucks a night, they could be a little more lenient ‘bout the check out time,” IFM sighed heavily as his mother, the slight German frau, 84 years old, smiled in blissful unconcern.
“Daddy, can I go in the pool now?” Lizard Watching Daughter whined.
PP thought, yeah, sure, go for it kid, now that I’m out of the pool and could use a little peace and quiet in the hot tub before hitting the road back to the stupid Bay Area.
“Sure, Sugar Mouse, let’s go swimming before they charge us another 100 bucks for being 20 minutes over their check out time.”
PP thought how nice the Vichy Springs Staff had been to them the day before. Letting them use the pool before check in time and not charging them. She decided not to say anything about this to IFM. He was bitter enough. No sense in fanning the flame.
Sugar Mouse jumped out and began whining for her flip-flops, her towel, her soda. German Gram shook her head, the child was so spoiled. “Don’t make your Daddy go and get all of those things for you, Barbara.”
“Nah, it’s ok. She’s on vacation.”
GG sighed and glanced over at PP and DHBF who was now engaged in talking to the two little girls who’d been PP’s Shrieking Buddies in the Cold Pool. “Are you two Twins?” he asked, playfully.
“Yeah…..my name is Liz and her name is Grace.”
“Oh, and was it you, Liz that was looking at the Lizard over at the pool?”
Liz nodded seriously. DHBF glanced over at Grace, “Too bad they don’t have one called a Graceard….”
Grace stared at him. Completely stupefied. What the hell was the Nice Man talking about? Of course they were called Lizards and not Graceards! Silly Man!
“What time is it, Honey?” PP asked from under her visor as she glanced up at the noontime sun. It must be almost Time.
“Oh,whoops! Yeah, it’s almost 11:45,we gotta get goin, don’t we?”
“Yup, ‘fraid so….”
PP sighed. Here was her old nemesis, TIME, to take her away from her Pool Paradise…

But yet, she really couldn’t complain. It had been a lovely visit to Vichy Springs.

Sighing happily, PP picked up her cap, mask and water and headed back to their cozy little room. She knew that this was the end of this Vichy Springs Chapter, but of course, there’d be a Sequel, complete with serene solitary swims, serious swimmer discoveries, and yes, even delightfully obnoxious little girls. For after all, PP was once one herself, claiming whatever pool was in the vicinity for her own play.

It had started early, her Pool Obsession, with no end in sight-—Thank Heavens for Little Girls! PP sang to herself as she meandered back across the lush green lawn, the shrill shrieks of children echoing softly behind her.

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...