The Salt Vault
“Looks like this is the place to be!” Enormous Stately African American Queen ambles into Utopia. Everyone scrambles to make room for her. The two Latina women wrapped modestly in their skimpy Y towels move closer together, sleeping supine Asian woman next to PP continues to snore softly, Big Black Panty Woman shifts to the side, nods in recognition to SAAQ before closing her eyes and settling back into her silent dream world.
Queen Stately plants herself heavily on the bench next to PP, sighs loudly, before beginning the slow process of removing her black gold trimmed one piece with the skirt swim suit. (When was the last time you saw a suit with a skirt? PP had one in Hacienda Heights in 1968, but she cut the skirt off. Once a tomboy, always a tomboy)
“I sure had me a workout today. Whhhhooooeeeee!” Queen Stately sighs, as she continues to peal off her suit, revealing a tacky rose tattoo on her left large brown melon of a breast. PP stares. She tries not to, but just can’t help it. It’s that tattoo etiquette again. If you have one, doesn’t it invite appraisal?
“I had me a Personal Trainer today and I tell you, I worked it Girlfriends,” QS chuckles, the rest of the women with the exception of Softy Snorer, joining in.
“What did you do?” PP asks, always eager to begin a new story.
“I did everything!” she laughs, slapping a gigantic fleshy thigh in delight. “I did me a hour on the elliptical and then another 30 minutes on the bike and then I did a nice variety of machines.”
”Wow! You did do a lot!” PP exclaims, truly impressed. If she does even a half hour on any of the torture machines, she feels like she’s accomplished something. Though it’s never the same as swimming. But you all know that, don’t you?
QS pulls out a zip lock bag bursting with Epson salts, unzips it, and begins clutching out handfuls of the big salts and spreading them all over her massive body. As she covers her breasts, arms, thighs and then her astounding belly, the salt sparkling like diamonds on her dark soft skin, PP marvels at her matter of factness about this process in front of them all. It’s like she’s at home with a group of lovers.
“You gonna turn yourself into a Salt Vault,” Black Panty Woman asserts seriously.
PP giggles. A Salt Vault? Damn she loves this! BPW is a goddamn poet. PP thinks of saying this, but then decides against it. Not sure why other than the poet joke might not go over big with this crowd.
Salt Vault Queen chuckles. “Yeah, you got that!”
“But you better be careful,” BPW continues, “if she see you with that salts, she gonna kick you outta here.”
“You serious?” SVQ frowns.
“Oh, yeah. She real nice, but I seen her get mad and kick people out when they use their stuff in here.”
”Why is that?” PP asks, knowing the answer but not wanting them to stop talking. “Cuz of the mess?”
“Mmmm…. You got it,” BPW nods.
“Hey! If they’re so worried about the mess round here, they could clean up that Nasty shit in the steam room. You seen it next door?”
“Mmm..yeah, I seen it.”
“I always wash up, I never leave no mess,” QSV harrumphs. “They could clean up that nasty ring round the hot tub too. You seen that?”
”I seen it, all I’m saying is if she see you, she gonna kick you out!”
QSV frowns again as she pulls out another enormous handful of salts and angrily massages them into her belly.
“What’s the salt do anyway?” PP asks, trying to change the subject slightly.
“It takes away all the muscle ache,” Queen Salt asserts.
“Really, wow. How’s it do that?”
”It just soak into your skin and pull out all that pain in your muscle. Works all over.”
“You can put two cups in your bath too,” a quiet up till now woman offers.
“Yeah, that work too,” Queen Salt agrees, smearing the salt all over as PP watches in rapt fascination. The way the salt glistens on her skin mesmerizes her.” It don’t have no smell,” she continues. “I always thought this was the problem. I always wash up,” she repeats.
BPW nods, “I know. I seen you. I’m just saying, she will kick you out.”
“Which one? The Spanish one?”
”That’s the one. She real nice, but she gets mad. I seen it.”
“Maybe I should cover myself with a towel?” QSV glances around for a towel with absolutely no intention of using one for this purpose.
Grinning, PP decides she’s gathered enough material for one story. Besides she’s feeling that faint hungry post swim 9 p.m. space out energy loss. She doesn’t have the reserves of these women.
Maybe she needs some Epson Salts?
Or not. One thing she can say, she rarely has achy muscles all over. But then again, swimming doesn’t make you ache unlike the goddamn machines.
“I’ll warn you if I see her coming,” PP offers as she rises, shaky, to head out of Utopia.
Queen Salt Vault nods, completely unbelieving of PP’s intention or completely spaced out in her Salt Vault. It’s hard to tell as PP opens the door, exits Utopia, and heads off for a shower.