A FREE GIFT
“Would you mind circle-swimming?”
Goggled-Crankster Woman glared at PP through her foggy mask, “I guess not,” she replied, all huffy.
PP gets this on one level. GCW had had her own lane a moment ago and now she was gonna hafta circle swim. Hell PP detested circle swimming too, but what to do on a Sunday afternoon at the Y? She glanced at the other lanes, all with at least two swimmers in each, and a couple with 3 or more, the lane next to GCW hosting a spastic Chinese family of 4 frolicking and having fun, can you imagine? in a lap lane. Their playing did remind PP of China and how no one swam laps in any way shape or form at the Dalian Natatorium. She smiled at the memory now. But then. Well, PP wrote a Book about That!
So, GCW was just gonna hafta deal with circle swimming. No way should she expect to get her own lane, esp. on crowded weekend day in the middle of the summer! GCW paused for a moment, eyeing PP and her dear friend, MC, whom PP had been trying to get to the Y for a couple weeks, telling her how warm and friendly and welcoming it was here, and now?
Well, what kind of welcome was this?
Fortunately, MC was over at the steps wading into the water past the Frocklickin Family and didn’t catch GGW’s inhospitality.
Shrugging and trying to make her not feel quite so put upon, PP grinned, “You’re definitely the most Organized of the lanes!”
What the hell did this mean? PP wasn’t sure, but it came out of her mouth without any self-censoring, unusual for her, but not unprecedented. GCW gave PP one final glare before shaking her head and diving under water.
PP sighed under her breath, Bitch, she thought to herself as she smiled over at MC who’d managed to swim past the frolicking family.
“Sorry it’s so crowded and we hafta circle swim,” she apologized to MC.
“It’s ok, I’m just happy to be in the pool!” MC exclaimed and took off down the lane with an elegant sidestroke.
PP giggled. MC was right. It was good just to be here in the pool. Fuck GCW. Maybe they’d scare her off!
But this wasn’t to be as they continued to circle swim, PP passing both MC and GCW a couple of times before glancing over at the Family Frolicking Lane to note a serious confrontation going on between the Father of the Family and one of the Head Honcho Lifeguards. Much hand waving from the father, and much earnest explanation from the lifeguard. PP couldn’t tell what exactly was being said since she had her earplugs and cap on, but it looked pretty intense. Perhaps some Cultural Misunderstanding? This did seem likely as the father continued to gesticulate angrily--few words seemed to be being exchanged. Hell, was all this Emotional Wrongness for MC’s benefit? First, GCW and now Frazzled Father?
PP shook her head and headed back down the lane, speculating about how the lifeguard was telling him that they couldn’t play in the lap lanes, that they had a whole side of the pool designated for this family swim activity. But Dad wasn’t having any of it. He paid his dues. His family was swimming! Hell, they were even kinda swimming laps, something that PP had never witnessed in China. Not that the Oakland Y was China, though sometimes PP felt like it was when she was soaking in the hot tub surrounded by boisterous, giggling Chinese Ladies gossiping away in their native tongue.
But now Dad was pissed off-- Why the hell did they hafta go over there with all those noisy splashy obnoxious other families?
And PP thought. That’s what you get for having a family.
You get herded into the Family Section with all the other Obnoxious Ones.
What do you expect?
Have a family, swim in the family section. It was that simple.
Turning at the far wall, PP saw the two kids get out, all skinny and shivering and then mom and finally dad following, heaving himself up on the deck and sitting there staring morosely at the now empty lane.
Cool. She and MC can snag that lane, but she better move fast!
And she did, diving under the lane line and then shouting for MC, “Hey M, over here! We can split this lane!”
MC nodded, dipping under the lane line and continuing her graceful kickboard kicking down the right side of the lane.
And GCW can have her own lane back, too, PP thought; for a moment she even considered thanking her for letting them share her lane. Hell, wait a minute, it wasn’t HER lane! The Y was all about sharing, remember? It’s one of those BIG values painted up on the wall. PP grinned when she saw another swimmer get into GCW’s lane. Hah! No OWN lane for you!
Finally! It was lovely now, swimming with MC. PP was so delighted to have a friend here with her at the Y. She’d missed the social aspect of swimming so much since having to give up her Mills Midday Routine cause of the stay out of the sun dictate from the dermatologist. Sure, she'd made a few "Hello, how're ya doin?" aquaintances here at the Y, but it wasn't the same. Maybe someday, as she watched MC kick- floating happily on her back down the right side of their lane.
Later, MC was relaxing in the Hot Tub, and commented on how much she liked the Y, swimming indoors was perfect for her. She didn’t really like the sun. It actually made her feel sick sometimes.
“You’re smart,” PP had nodded. “The sun is NOT your friend!”
”Not mine, anyway,” MC had agreed. “I get sick of having to put all that sunscreen on.” She wrinkled her pretty nose and shook her head and PP had to agree. It was super nice not having to worry about sunscreen here inside the Y.
“What’s MM up to this afternoon?” PP had asked, referring to MC’s BF.
“I dunno. When I left he was plopped in front of the TV watching some King Arthur and his Merry Knights marathon.”
”That is so weird,” PP had mused. “Staying in the house all day on such a beautiful afternoon.”
”Yeah, I think so too. And lord knows he doesn’t feel compelled to do anything around the house while he’s in it!”
They both giggled. It’s an ongoing issue for MC, PP knows, the slovenly BF. One of the many reasons PP lives alone. The only slovenly one is herself and this is rare.
“Yeah, I hear you!”
“I just sequester his Mess to the bedroom. Tell him he has to keep it confined there. The rest of the apartment is off limits.”
“But you hafta go into the bedroom every night to sleep, right?”
She nodded, “Yeah….it can get a little depressing.”
PP shook her head. Thinking about how her BF, though Dashingly Handsome, did have some housekeeping issues that she was glad to have no part of. Hence he had his own apartment and she didn't have to deal with the quarantining of the mess situation. This could get ugly real fast, as MC has chronicled over the years. What a relief that PP has her own place!
Now if only she could get the landlord to put in a pool!
“I’ve bout had it.” MC cracked up as she raised her legs out of the tub. “I’m a lobster.”
PP giggled, “Yeah, me too, let’s shower and call it a day.”
And they did. Shower. Call it a day.
On their way out they tried to talk to the harried clerk at the front desk about MC getting a free one week pass since PP had brought her in—PP waving the“BRING A FRIEND TO THE Y” card in the air.
“She hasta go on the Tour,” HC sighed as she tried to explain the free tour while checking in patrons. “And I’m the only one here, so I can’t take her on it.”
”That’s ok,” MC is so calm and agreeable, “Do you have any literature I can take with me to study? Then I can come back for the tour later?”
HC nodded, retrieved some literature and handed it across the counter.
”Thanks,” MC seemed excited. “Oh, literature!” she exclaimed as she shuffled quickly through it and then popped it in her swim bag.
“Yeah,” PP agreed, “It’d be so fun if you joined! Then I could have someone to swim with and I get a Free Special Gift if you join by Sept 15,” PP was reading the back of the the BRING A FRIEND TO THE Y little card with the above enticement.
“Wonder what your Free Gift could be?” MC mused.
“Dunno,” PP shrugged, thinking how most likely it’d be something really stupid like a stuffed yellow bear with a bright red YMCA sweatshirt on, or a workout water cup with blue YMCA embossed on it, or hell, it wouldn't be anything that good, PP was sure.
But from PP’s perspective, the Best Gift would be having her friend, MC, join the Y and swim with her every Sunday! Nothing could be more special than that.
Not even having your own lane and never having to circle swim!
Penguins Circle Swimming--take a lesson from the birds!