Dante’s Hell in Paradise
Slumping her head against the warm metal bars, PP tried to keep back the tears of frustrated disbelief. How the hell could this be happening? Here she was. Her first day in Paradise. Jet lagged and in need of caffeine sustenance, but never mind. She was gonna wake up early, before the 10 a.m. sun curfew, and go for a swim in Cindy’s Perfect Paradise Pool.
She’d scouted the kitchen counter for the weird pool key, which looked like a credit card, but was only good for the pool. She knew what it looked like, but couldn’t locate it. Yet the paradise pool was calling her on this first morning in Hawaii and damn it, she was gonna climb the fence for a swim if need be.
If only she’d known!
Grabbing another card, that was the same shape, and a similar blue color, PP knew it probably wasn’t right, but she headed out the condo door into the balmy fragrance of Oahu anyway. Coo cooo’s of the morning doves greeted her (Where’s the Poool?….Where’s the Pooool? Where’s the Pooool?) as the gentle breeze soothed her aching head. (PP is majorly addicted to her morning coffee. But this morning, what with the time change and all, she knew there was no time before her swim for the morning fix, so she headed up the stairs in a foggy caffeine deprived haze.)
This woulda been ok. For after all, here she was, her first day in Hawaii, her favorite place on Earth. Who cares if you’re awake or not? All she needed was a swim!
Rounding the bend at the top of the stairs, PP spied the lovely little pool glistening in the bright blue air under the white puffy clouds, the giant brilliant mustard colored flower trees waving an aloha morning greeting to her.
The pool the pool the pool! She’d been waiting for this moment since she’d been here last year.
And now. Here she was! Back in paradise at last!
Little did she know that she was about to enter Dante’s Hell.
You all know his version, right? (PP knows that she has a well-read, literary following, but just to review at least in a PP superficial way since she really didn’t get through the Inferno, but hell, she got the gist of it.) In Dante’s Inferno, you have to live out your eternity doing the thing you hate the most. Like Dante has the story of the two lovers who are somehow attached back to back to each other so they can't see their beloved and are doomed to be connected but not really. Or in modern times, if you really hate driving, you have to commute on the wretched 880 interstate dodging big rigs and speeding SUV’s till the end of time. Or if you love to eat chocolate, you have to sit under a giant chocolate tree and stare at the chocolate leaves that dangle over your head just out of reach for eternity.
Or if you can’t live without swimming?
You have to stand on the other side of the fence, watching a Stupid Grandfather give his squealing in delight grand kid swim lessons without any possibility of being able to enter the pool because the goddamn key doesn’t work!
The first time PP swiped the card on the pool magic gate opener, and the little green light didn’t appear signaling that she could push open the gate, she thought, ‘Ok, well, maybe I didn’t do it exactly right. After all I haven’t had any coffee yet, and in Oakland time it is 6 am.’ So she tried it again.
No green light.
Goddammit! PP gazed through the bars at the ongoing swim lesson, the grandpa with his gold chains and U.S Military visor, the kid screeching in inane swim lesson frenzy.
They completely ignored her. How could this be? Wasn’t her frustrated anguish being communicated across the chlorinated expanse between them?
For a moment, PP thought of hollering at them. “Hey, can you please let me in? I’m staying with a friend and can’t get the key to work and….”
But she opted not to do this.
Later she wondered why. Hell, Gramps probably woulda let her in. Or not. PP had some idea, in her jet lagged uncaffeined brain, that being an old military guy, he’d be less likely to help her. You know, like suspicious of her. “Whatdya mean your key doesn’t work? How do I know you’re not making up a line here? I never seen you before, Missy. Why should I let ya in?” while the sniveling grand kid shivered in the morning pool crispness. “Grandpaaaa! Can you show me againnnnnn!!!” he’d whine, tugging at Gramp’s wet suited sleeve, leaving PP in humiliating Can’t-get-into-the-pool- with-that- sorry- lie- young-lady-embarrassment.
What could she do?
She did consider just jumping over the fence. It wasn’t very high. And if Military Gramps hadn’t been there, she would have.
The pool beckoned to her in all its tropical glory.
Goddammit! This could not be happening!
Standing at the fence, her nose pressed through the bars, PP stared at the two in the pool, willing them to at least acknowledge her existence. Hell, if Gramps saw her in her Pitiful Pool Lockout State, wouldn’t he take pity and get out of the pool and let her in?
“Why lookee here, lil lady. What’s the problem? You got the wrong key? Hell, don’t worry your pretty lil head bout it, come on in, the water’s fine.” And he’d retrieve his key and gallantly swipe it on the magic metal thingee, the gate would pop open, she’d smile graciously and thank him, then don her wetsuit and dive into the welcoming embrace of Cindy’s Paradise Pool.
PP continued to stare at him. Look over here, dammit! She thought, willing him to do her bidding.
Alas, her powers of telepathic persuasion were woefully absent. The two continued to joyfully partake of the paradise pool’s magical aura. Completely oblivious to her Anguished Stare Down.
What’s a PP to do?