26 Hours in the Claremont Pool
“How do you spell your last name?”
JB sighs. Spells her name out slowly, just a little edge to her tone. “Brancusi. B-R-A-N-C-U-S-I.”
Young, flustered lifeguard shuffles nervously through the 3X5 recipe box again. His tan pimpled face heavy in concentration. “Maybe you used the card up?” he asks hopefully.
“No.” JB’s losing patience now. Here she’s offered to treat PP and DHBF to a swim at her steam is rising offa the water Claremont Pool and the stupid moron lifeguard can’t find her friggin membership card.
“It’s a very new card,” she hisses evenly. “….only 2 or three uses on it.” Another lifeguard heads into the dreary cement room, starts to help out. “He knows me.” She points at the 2nd guard. “Brancusi!”
PP grins. Loves JB’s no nonsense way about her. Has loved it since she was 13. (Yes they were 13 when they met back in Irvine at Tustin Jr. HS. That’s a long time to know someone. And a long time to love someone’s way. More than 35 years—yes, PP’s 50th is imminent. But she’s not gonna go there now. Though a pool is a must for the Celebration!)
PP and JB have certainly been through a lot, but have drifted apart in adult years. Geography. (JB in San Diego; PP settled in North Calif.) Marriage. (JB, not PP)
Tragedy. (JB lost her brother in a horrible car accident 20 some odd years ago; PP remembers feeling so sad and helpless.)
But of course, the one thing that they’ve always had in common and both have never considered giving up is, SWIMMING!
“If the doc told me I hadda give up swimming, just take me out back and shoot me in the head,” JG pronounced once they’d finally made it into the locker room and were undressing in the cold cement room. (Second Lifeguard had found the Brancusi Card. Crossed off three passes. Waved their little group through.)
In the locker room, JB and PP begin the catching up process. There’s a lot if you only see someone once a year. They start with all their stupid middle-aged health maladies. PP’s melanoma: “OH MY GOD!!!! You didn’t tell me about that! Hell, you dodged the bullet with that one!” JB’s imminent shoulder surgery. Damaged rotary cuff? Rotisserie cuff? Well, you swimmers know what PP means. Fibroids and bleeding in the Bahamas. JB jokes, “Yeah, I thought I better not swim one day. Sharks you know.”
PP had nodded sympathetically. Thank god she didn’t hafta go thro that anymore.
10 minutes later, the health updates done, PP and JB were out on deck in the misty gray San Diego winter. It was so mild. Not like Oakland. Yeah, they called it winter. And as DHBF reminded PP all the time, Oaklanders didn’t know winter either till they spent one in Canada.
No THANK YOU! is always PP’s response.
JB informed them how the Claremont Pool was ‘busy’ that day. 2 middle aged walking, stretching guys in the shallow end. A couple kids diving playfully in the deep end. Then the 4 lap lanes in the center of the pool. Empty and waiting for them. This was busy? Hell, this was Pool Paradise compared to the Oakland Y most days!
It was all so perfect! The temp of the water musta been 85 degrees. PP had her own lane. The water was crystal clear and still blue even with the gray skies. Don’t ask her why. Must be a San Diego thing. Pools are always blue even when there’s no blue sky to reflect off? Maybe since it’s so sunny and blue skied there all year round, the pools store up the blueness just for PP’s swim?
Who cares! All she cared about was swimming! And she did. But not everyone was swimming. Most notably one of the water walking mid-aged guys. PP watched as he stretched to one side and then the other. His arms in an awkward arc over his head. The pain etched on his face.
She dubbed him Grimacing Stretch Man. Later she found out that JB and her hubby called him Shark Man cuz he wore a snorkel across the middle of his face, looking like a hilarious rendition of Jaws.
PP laughed at the image, not really getting it since she saw no sign of a snorkel this Super Bowl Sunday. All she saw was a lot of cranky faces as GSM jerked his pale hairy body in spastic trying to stretch stretches. Yet he seemed oddly at peace. Of course, Pool Bliss reigns no matter what activity one’s pursuing.
50 minutes later, JB and DHBF were hanging out at the wall, the steam playing round the surface of the water as they chatted about fins and strokes.
“We’re not gonna be able to get Carol outta the Pool!” JB joked.
And she was right. PP had no intention of leaving. She was just gonna swim in the perfectly warm Claremont Pool till she had to fly back to Oakland, which wasn’t for 26 hours.
26 hours in the pool. Do you think it’s possible, Dear Readers?
Watching JB shrug, grin and take off for another lap, PP thought so. She just wanted this moment to last forever, in this perfect pool with her best friend from Junior High School and Dashingly Handsome Boyfriend.
26 hours would have to do though, as she reached for the kickboard and followed JB back down the lane.