Sunday, August 31, 2008

Berkeley Y: Colder, Stranger, Harder!

It is such a tragedy! The week before PP goes on her big adventure to Indiana, (she’s been invited to partake of a writer’s residency at the Mary Anderson Center for the Arts—how cool is that?) the Oakland Y decides that this week before she leaves would be the perfect time to close the pool for the annual cleaning.


Now, PP considered talking to Management about postponing this pool closure till the following week when she’ll be in Indiana and so won’t miss the pool, but then thought, yeah right. Like they’re gonna listen to her. Even though the pool and its schedule should totally revolve around HER Life, she didn’t think the folks at the Oakland Y would really be amenable to this.


She has the option to go to the Berkeley Y during this week and today she did just that.

It was so weird!

First off, this isn’t the first time she’s been to the Berkeley Y—-she used to visit with her Ex, the illustrious Owen Hill, as a guest when it rained at Mills and he was a member. This was so many years ago, she can barely remember, but one thing she did remember was that the pool was COLD!!!

And today, she’d forgotten this till she stuck her finned foot in and OUCH!!! The water was freezing! Glancing over at the temps posted on the wall, 80 for the pool, 102 for the spa, PP was too lately reminded that she was gonna freeze during her swim. (How many times has she explained that while 80 degrees sounds warm and toasty, in the water, it’s definitely NOT, esp. when the pool is indoors and there’s no warmth of the sun to offset the frigidity of the water!)

Plus the pool was crammed with crowds of Sunday afternoon swimmers. Damn. This was what always made it hard. The goddamn circle swimming! And the coldness wasn’t just in the water temp, there’s a certain frostiness to the members at the Berkeley Y too. What is it about Berkeley? Too many intellectuals in one spot? They’re all competing for that piece of the University Pie and so when they get to the YMCA they can’t let it go for even an afternoon swim?

It’s hard to explain. When PP stuck her fin in, she gave a cheery “Hi” to the Scrawny White Woman already sharing a lane with a Young Shaggy Haired Guy.
“We are already swimming circles!” she’d snarled at PP.

Okay then. PP shakes her head as she watched SWW flail back down the lane. Her toothpick arms ghostly pale slapping on the blue surface of the water. (This is one nice thing about the Berkeley Pool—it’s blue. Why isn’t the Oakland Pool blue? It’s gray. Why is that? Is Berkeley a bluer place than Oakland? You wouldn’t think so, but poolwise, it’s so.)

PP jumps in after SWW, and plows speedily down the lane, almost running her over, she’s so damn poky. Of course, she doesn’t wait at the wall for PP to pass. No this is Berkeley. She just turns around at the wall, oblivious and smug in her scrawny Berkeley bubble.

PP zooms past her on the way back down, narrowly missing kicking her in the face. (Just kidding, but it was kinda close.)

But mission accomplished. SWW moves to another lane, allowing PP and the Shaggy Haired Guy to split the lane. Fine. This works for her and so she finishes her frigid swim with only the minor irritant of the cold steadily hurting her neck.

Thank goodness there is a Hot Tub here.

But here is where the Real Weirdness starts as PP basks in the warm bubbles, her neck finally beginning to de-tense.

A bouncing boy (here’s another reason that makes Berkeley hard—kids are allowed in the hot tub. What a stupid idea that is! PP won’t go into all the reasons why as it’s self-evident and Masterpiece Theater is on in 20 minutes) This kid gets in and starts jumping around spastically in the tub, not exactly shivering, but this is what occurs to PP. He’s been in the goddamn freezing pool for the last hour and so he’s jumping up and down to get warm. This makes sense, right?

So PP asks him, “Are you cold?”
He gives her an impish grin and says, “IT’s Symbol!”
Uh? It’s symbol? Is that really what he said? Did PP hear that right? What the hell could that mean? It’s a Symbol of what exactly? And what does the “it” refer to? The cold? The hot tub? PP’s query? And then what is the Symbol? The jumping? It’s a symbol of what? Obnoxiousness?

This is the best PP can come up with as the Symbol Kid’s dad? (He seems to be in charge of the kid, but they look nothing alike. The kid is dark, handsome, bronze Indian looking. The dad is an old shriveled Berkeley radical white guy with a gray braid trailing down his emaciated back.) But when Symbol Kid makes his proclamation to PP, Braid Man smiles beatifically over at PP like he’s sorry the kid is symbolic?

Hell, PP doesn’t know. All she knows is that it’s weird. And no one else in the Hot tub seems to even notice, let alone be the object of this kid’s goofball paradigm except for PP. (The tub is full of the usual Berkeley suspects. This means, 4 or 5 middle aged white guys with spectacles and paunches. Damn. PP missed Utopia mightily!)

Oh and this is the last thing that is so truly weird. When PP does find Utopia in the women’s locker room, it’s completely empty and after the crammed pool and Symbol Kid, this is okay. It’s peaceful and relaxing, taking the final edge off her neck pain.

But as she leaves the sauna, she pauses to read the list of rules posted on the door (there’s tons of rules posted everywhere at the Berkeley Y and she thinks this is true of Oakland too, but she’s just used to them now.) Yet there aren’t any posted on the Oakland Utopia, esp. this one: “Please refrain from conversation while using the sauna”


PP stood there for a moment in utter disbelief.... Can you even imagine such a rule at Oakland’s Utopia? Why she’d have nothing to write about! Not to mention the strangely draconian aspect to such a restriction.

All PP can say is she hopes the YMCA in Indiana is a little less strange.

Or at least the Symbols presented in the hot tub are a little less obnoxious!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sarah Barracuda: Wolf Killer!

“Did you hear Obama’s speech?” Grey Panty Only Woman asks. (Were they Street Panties? Or Sauna Panties? Or Hot Tub Panties? PP wonders for a moment as she sinks into the soothing bubbles of the hot tub after a satisfying but tiring Friday evening swim) GPOW has been eyeing PP for a few moments. Shy. PP hadn’t expected a political query. Only something mundane like ‘how’re ya doin’?

This is so much better. Esp. since PP had not only seen his speech, she’d taped it. Well actually she’d seen it because she taped it. She’d been at work when he’d given the speech live. Did GPOW need to know all of this? Who cares! PP is enthusiastic, raving about how Obama had rocked the stadium.

GPOW nods, serious. “I heard it was good. I’m so sorry I missed it…” Her voice trails off. She really is sad. PP gets this. In Oakland, Obama’s nomination is bigger than the Raiders at the super bowl (she’s paraphrasing Jon Carroll here) But it’s true. Barack Obama is a huge big deal and just an amazing phenomenon. How lucky she is to live in Oakland, and be hanging out at the downtown Oakland Y in the Hot Tub the day after the convention had finished.

“He was amazing,” PP gushes, a little in awe still. “I’m not sure what it is about him. Of course, he’s charismatic and he’s got all the right messages that any Democrat would want to hear. But….. it’s more than that……. He gets you right here,” PP thumps her chest where her heart is. “I don’t know what it is. Something about the cadence or rhythm of his speech…... He’s very moving and very emotional.”

GPOW nods, her eyes steady and thinking. “Yeah, I know what you mean. I sure wished I’d seen that speech!”
“I bet you can see in online or maybe someone you know has taped it or…..” PP’s voice trails off. She could give GPOW her tape of Obama, but it had all of her All My Children episodes on it too. While she could part with Barack, she didn’t think she could part with Kendall and Greenlee.

Would GPOW understand? Maybe, maybe not. PP wasn’t gonna risk it though. She just wasn’t that generous in nature.

“Y’all talking about McCain’s VP?” Super Swimmer Woman staggers out of Utopia, drenched in tiny beads of sweat, her skin a bright lobster red.
“No, who’s that?” GPOW frowns, she doesn’t know and actually, PP had only found out via an Owen Hill email from earlier that afternoon, detailing Palin’s Chestnut Bouffant.

“Someone named Sarah Palin. She’s the governor of Alaska,” SSW knows everything. PP marvels at this type. How does she do it? Does she just listen to NPR all day long on her car radio? Or have the TV tuned to CNN constantly? Or absorb any and all political trivia via some sort of telepathic osmosis?

In any case, PP is never so well informed. In fact, she never knows anything political unless it's really huge, like Obama’s acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination. This was of historic proportions. A Black Man as the Democratic Nominee. It really was exciting. Something she thought she’d never see in her lifetime. So, hell, she better know about this!

But McCain’s running mate, this seemed vital too. Though evidently he’d sprung it on the media to take some of the oomph out of Obama’s speech. Palin was a long shot surprise outta left field. As Owen’s email had said, she was a gun-toting, anti-abortion, conservative nut case. Perfect match for McCain, PP had thought. Though of course, the strategy was to get all the disenfranchised Hillary voters to swing McCain’s way.

Like a Hillary voter is gonna go for someone like Palin?

Damn. Were women really that stupid?

Evidently, McCain thought so. Yet another reason for every Hillary voter to back Obama!

“She’s evil,” another woman pipes in, entering the Hot Tub, her long gray hair pulled back in a messy ponytail.
“Why?” PP asked. This was all getting so excellent!
“She kills Wolves.”
“What do you mean?” PP asks, aghast.
“She orders planes to fly over the herds of wolves and shoot them.”

“Are you serious?” PP shakes her head in disbelief. Not only is she a conservative nutcase, but she’s a Wolf Killer as well? Damn!
“Why does she have the wolves killed?” PP asks.
Pony Tail Woman shrugs, “I don’t know. She just hates wolves I guess. Some people do.”
“That is so mean!” GPOW proclaims from the bench. “Those Wolves. They’re at a Real Disadvantage! They don’t even have a chance with those planes overhead. They could at least give them a Chance. But if the planes are shooting them from above……” she shakes her head in genuine shock. “They are at a Real Disadvantage,” she repeats.
“Aren’t wolves on the Endangered Species list?” PP asks.
A Curly Haired Red Headed Woman plops down on the bench next to GPOW, and enters the conversation, “I think they used to be, but now that their numbers have grown, I think they’re back off the list, esp. in places like Alaska and Montana and Wyoming. Places like that.”
“That sucks!” PP exclaims. The poor wolves. Damn!
“Wolves have a right to be here just as much as we do!” Pony Tail Woman proclaims as she climbs out of the hot tub, shaking her head, her blue eyes on fire.
“Yeah they do!” GPOW agrees. “They probably were here first anyway!”

“That McCain,” SSW passes in front of them, “He must be smoking something!” she jokes, as she heads back into Utopia, generating laughter from the little group that’s left.

“And did you hear how Palin is anti-everything?” she continues, standing at the door to Utopia. “She’s anti-abortion, anti- gay marriage, anti-gun control….”
“Anti- wolf!” PP interrupts.
“That too.”
“Those poor Wolves…” GPOW continues to shake her head slowly, distress and sadness fill her voice. “They are at a Real Disadvantage.”
“Well, I think that this Palin Woman is gonna end up being a Real Disadvantage to McCain,” PP announces, political pundit that she is.
“Yeah, well, we’ll see,” SSW shakes her head as she pulls open the door to the sauna. “She’s got all these kids. 5 I think. And she’s very pro-family and….”
“If she’s so pro-family, what’s she doin runnin' for Vice President of America? How she takin' care of her kids that way?” GPOW scoffs.
They all laughed. “Good point!” PP nods. But thinks to herself, will American really be as smart as these women at the Oakland Y? Will they question and analyze to this extent?

PP thinks probably not. They’ll see that Palin is a woman and either vote for or against her because of her gender. Issues be damned. Of course, PP would like to think that the voting populace is more savvy than this.

Yet, look at the criticism thrown at Obama for being ‘elitist’ and ‘too smart’—damn. Don’t people want someone smart to be running the country?

Judging from the last 8 years, it would appear not.
But then maybe times are changing. For African Americans. For women. Hell, maybe even for the wolves. Now that the gun toting Anti everything Alaskan Governor is off running with McCain they might have a howling chance.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Street Panties

“That remind me of goin on a cruise!” Golden Toweled Woman chuckled to herself as she plopped down on one of the wooden stools across from the hot tub, pointing to the large white lifesaver ring newly hung on the wall. “For Emergency Use Only” was written in black felt tip marker round it, on all sides. Top. Bottom. Middle.

PP had noticed it last time she’d been in the hot tub, and had thought it was kinda weird. Who was gonna drown in 3 feet of water in an 8 X 8 foot tub?

But hey, maybe a cruise is what it was all about, so PP nods in agreement as she glanced up at it.

“It sure is a good thing they put that up though seriously,” GTW asserted, the chuckle subsiding, but still echoing in PP’s imagination.
“Yeah. I seen a woman. She got took away by a ambulance. She was a new member. And they told her she was stayin in there too long, but she don’t listen. She was in there 30 or 40 minutes every day. So one day she just passed out and they took her away in the ambulance.”
PP wanted to ask if she had been okay, but was afraid to. It didn’t matter, though, GTW was still talking. “And these other ladies, I seen them laying there face down in the tub and they pulled them out and they was okay but now it’s a good thing they got that there.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” PP agreed, still wondering what happened to the ambulance woman.

“HEY! You find out who tol?” GTW hollered to the Square Chinese Woman in Pearls and nothing else who'd just stomped into the room.
“No! No…. I didn’t!” Pearled Chinese Woman shook her head, than leaned over and spat in disgust into the sink, making a hissing sound as she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.
“It wasn’t That Lady I seen in the Steam Room?”
”No. Not her. I dunno,” PCW shook her head again, eyeing her reflection in the mirror ferociously.
“It’s not Her is it?” GTW nodded toward the showers to an unseen showering woman or at least this was PP’s assumption.
“That Good! She was my Partner in Crime!” GTW let out a booming chuckle, her big brown arms shaking in mirth.

PP couldn’t stand it anymore. What the hell were they talking about? “What Crime did you commit?” she blurted out.
GTW stopped laughing, but still shaking her head, wiped a tear from her eye. “We oil up and go in There,” she nodded, solemn and secretive now, as she nodded toward the sauna. “We not suppose to do that so someone tol on us, and we don’t know who!”
“Why would someone care?” PP asked, thinking how petty some people were that they would actually take the trouble to ‘tell’ on someone oiling up in the sauna. It was like some of these women never left 7th grade.

Or they watched too many soap operas.

Or they were just bitches.

GTW shook her head, mystified for a moment before sighing heavily. “It against the Rules. But we clean up after ourselves. No one knows we be oiling up. But the Rules…..” She sighed heavily, placing her large hands squarely on her toweled lap for balance. “You know the people who tol on us? They’s the Same People that don’t take a shower before they go in There. (She pointed to the Hot Tub where PP floated in the corner. Thank god she’d taken a shower today!) They’s the Same People who don’t take a shower before they go in the Pool. They’s the Same People who wear their Street Panties in There!”

Again she pointed at the tub where PP sat in her swimsuit. Thank God she’d taken off Her Street Panties! Yet, PP loved this term! Had never heard it before. And yes, she’d seen plenty of panties worn in all sorts of strange permutations here at the Y. In the Hot tub, of course. Under swimsuits, the thick dirty white bands hanging out from under the suit. In the sauna. In the shower.

Street Panties. They were everywhere!

Damn! Why doesn’t everyone just toss those Street Panties out the window? Dance naked into the showers. Bob naked in the hot tub. Lounge naked in the sauna. Swim naked in the pool……

No, nix that last one. PP did NOT want to see most of the swimmers at the Y without at least their Street Panties on in the Pool! The thought of some of those swimmers letting it all hang out. Well…..PP didn’t want to go THERE!

“But Rules, they’s Rules…..” GTW shook her head in resignation. She’d gotten away with it for so long and now what?

PP was pretty sure she’d get away with it again.

As long as everyone just kept their Y Panties on and their Street Panties Off!

Monday, August 25, 2008


”You have a real affinity for Trees, don’t you?” PP asked, as she rose to exit Utopia.

Amazon Tree Woman beamed, nodding in serious agreement.

PP continued, “I remember your story about how when you were a girl you sat under a tall tall tree and that’s how you got your long long legs!” PP grinned as ATW’s eyes opened in wide amazement.
“You remember That story?”
”I remember all the Stories!” PP exclaimed. Little did ATW realize!
“That’s amazing,” she smiled, her eyes shining, as she sat up briefly, adjusting her towel.
“And this last story you just told me is so wonderful,” PP continued. “Trees have that mythical quality to them, don’t they?”
“Yes, they certainly do. You are absolutely right,” she murmured, carrying PP back to the story she’d just told about her grandfather:

“We lived on Long Island, and Girl, it Snows there!” ATW laughed as PP nodded, eager for another story from her.
“Snow?” PP shook her head. “I remember visiting Long Island once, a long time ago, and it snowed. I was so amazed by the way it fell from the sky. All soft and quiet. Being a California Girl, I’d never seen such a sight.”

“Yes. It’s lovely. But let me tell you about my Grandfather…..”

ATW’s voice became soft too, like the snow.

“He was a man who could do anything. And he always told all us kids how we could do anything too. But that’s another story!” She laughed, delighted by this oft-told adage. “Anyways, he had this Avocado Tree. And she was so lovely. (Immediately, PP picked up on the feminine pronoun, ‘she’. Of course the avocado is female! With her rounded bottom, slim waist and coy little top head!”) And every year, before it snowed, my Grandfather would wrap Her up with a blanket and then place a tarp around Her and to keep Her safe from the cold.”

“It was like he was putting Her into Hibernation!” PP exclaimed, mesmerized by the image of this grandfather wrapping up his precious avocado tree.

ATW nodded, struck by PP’s assessment, but then going right with it. “Yes! He would hibernate Her. Every year. And he would tell us kids how this just showed you how you could do anything if you took care. You could grow an avocado tree in the middle of the coldest winter on Long Island, or you could grow yourself into the strongest person no matter what the obstacles. You just had to take the right care…..”

Her voice trailed off and PP could tell she was back on Long Island, a little girl, watching her grandfather lovingly wrap the Avocado Tree up to protect against the winter’s ferocity.

Watching her drift back to that time, PP tried to follow her. She saw the lovely little avocado tree, vulnerable and brave against the stark white background, wrapped up so tenderly in the dark tarp, the grandfather and his granddaughter, hand in hand, tromping out between snow storms to check on Her. The grandfather, for a moment, letting go the granddaughter’s hand, to bend and check up on Her. Testing the tarp’s bindings. Making sure She was safe while the Granddaughter watched. It was an ordinary wintertime ritual for them, but for PP there was a magical quality to the image.

For a moment, she tried to remember if she had any such memory of her grandfather……and interestingly enough, one does come to mind though it’s not around a tree, but a motorcycle of all things! (PP loathes motorcycles, but that’s definitely another story!)

PP remembers an afternoon, when she was a little girl, visiting her grandfather in Whittier California, and how he took her for a ‘ride’ on his motorcycle up and down the alley behind his house. PP was thrilled and scared to be zooming down the alley holding tight around her grandfather’s waist, feeling the wind against her cheek, and the safety of his broad back protecting her.

Was it the same as ATW’s story of her grandfather? Maybe. Maybe not. But there is a pull there. A tie to the generation that’s farther away. PP’s grandfather was someone she never knew well. Someone she was a little intimidated by even. But yet….she had this memory. This almost mythical feeling that comes back to her when she remembers this afternoon, on his motorcycle, zooming down the alley behind Milton Street, on a breezy, California afternoon.

PP glanced over at ATW, still in a reverie, her eyes sparkling, and far away, to the little Avocado Tree on the snow covered hillside, and a grandfather, caring and wise, who taught the little girl that anything was possible, if you just took the right care….

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Most Popular Olympic Event

"Why you laughing at me?" Pumping Breast Woman continued to pump, her breasts doing their wildly exciting maneuvers. PP had made the fatal error of glancing over at DL when the pumping first commenced. DL had given her one of those wide-eyed grinning looks of delighted incredulity.

PP had started to crack up. She couldn't help it.

But now. Oh dear! Had she hurt PBW's feelings or offended her? Would her laughing transgression prevent PBW from practicing her pumping?

Woe oh woe this would be.

PP had to find a way to soothe.

"I didn't mean to laugh. I just am still amazed at your abilities to....."
DL chimed in. "You are really very good at THAT!"

Eyeing them both, BPW broke into a dazzling smile. "It should be a new event in the Olympics!"

They all laughed. What a wonderful idea! Breast Pumping Gyrations as an Olympic event! How would it be scored? By the number and speed and endurance of the participants? Would it then be multiplied by the difficulty level based on the above?

And the judges! Oh, to be in their chairs so to speak.

"You would certainly win a Gold Medal!" DL broke in, attempting her own pumping.

But it was no contest even though DL was much better at it than PP who gave up after a few feeble attempts. She was just too exhausted after her chaotic swim with Giant Side Stroke Man and Splashy Thinks He's in the Olympics Cuz of his Groovy Suit Man. Swimming sandwiched in between them had not only tried her endurance, but also her patience. Sometimes, all she wanted to do was swim! Dodging large white feet in their sidestroke rhythm was a trial!

"It would be a most popular event!" BPW concluded, rising to collect her towel and head off to the showers.

PP shook her head.
Yes. A most popular event!

Now how to get it into the next Olympics?

Readers? Any ideas?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Enough Already!

“I don’t know about you, but I’ve had just about enough of the screaming image of Michael Phelps!”

The Lovely I shakes her lovely head in lovely disgust. And PP has to agree. Isn’t there another more pleasant image to partake of at these Olympics? (See previous blog for an example!)

And besides, there is ZERO soap opera potential with Screaming Michael Phelps. 8 Gold Medals? No soap opera there. Up close and personal (remember it’s not called that anymore, but PP can’t get away from her childhood Olympic Memories) MP is BORING!!! All he does is EAT (I try to put away 8-10,000 calories a day. GROSS me Out!) Sleep. Close up of MP in bed snoring, or what one would think is his snoring, but no, it’s his gross little snoring bulldog puppy in bed with him. YUCKY! PP can’t shake one childhood memory and that’s of the Kimmick’s Bulldog, Bruiser, aggressively sniffing her 11-year-old crotch every time she went to visit.

Too bad there wasn’t a pool for her to dive into to wash the disgusting dog slobber off!

But back to MP, what is there to write about? The up close and personal segment on NBC last night showed him watching TV. (When I’m not in the pool I’m very lazy.) Well, yeah of course, this would make sense, but hell, not too interesting watching Michael watch T.V while he’s scarfing down his 3 cheese and bacon omelets, 6 pieces of French Toast with powdered sugar, 5 bowls of Wheaties with milk and more sugar, and topping it off with 10 plates of hash browns smothered in ketchup.


PP bets that Laure M doesn’t eat like this. Granted, she must eat to keep up her pool stamina and maintain her soap opera triangle, but PP pictures her rising from a fluffy white bed with her tres beautiful calico cat stretching luxuriously in the background, while Laure pours herself some French pressed cafĂ©, a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice, and then thoughtfully bites into a sinfully flaky croissant to round out the meal.

Laure would be oh so tres continental and civilized.

Unlike MP.

The only good thing, besides of course the relay race entertainment value (which by the way was not exciting because of Phelps but because of the anchor leg swam by Jason Lezak, pictured here), is that every time MP wins another Gold Medal, and stands there on the podium with the goddamn national anthem playing, PP can skip this part of the T.V. broadcast and go to the bathroom and do the dishes.

Lord knows she’d never take a break during Laure’s swim.

Because you never know. Those French can sneak up on you. Unlike the Americans. Plowing through the water at The Cube. As the Lovely I commented, “I don’t know what you’d call what I do in the Pool and what they do in the Pool, but they are no way even near the same THING!”

Monday, August 11, 2008

The French Soap Operas at the Water Cube! Ooohhh La La!!!

How much does PP love the swimming at the Olympics? You all know the answer to that one. She is completely and totally obsessed! Were that she could have gone to the Beijing Olympics and sat rapt in the stands of the Water Cube (how much do you love that name?), but she’ll have to settle for NBC’s coverage of the sport every evening.

Without which, she never woulda known the story of Laure Manaudou. The sexy French swimmer with an enthralling love triangle to boot. (Or should she say, ‘to fin’)

Poor Laure. She is so beautiful but her story is so tragic. First she falls in love with some Italian swimmer cad, his name might be Mario or some other typical Italian appellation. He is so cute. He is so Italian. He wants her to come to Italy. She says oui oui I love you my Cherie and so she does. But then the Italian swim team coach won’t let her practice in Italy, she must take off her clothes and have her nude pictures on the Internet in order to maintain her celebrity. No this isn’t really what happened, but PP isn’t exactly sure how the nude pictures got online. But there they are! And she is so sexy and so fun-loving. Oh, Laure, we amour you!

Then, poor Laure, she is so taken advantage of. Her sexy self completely used and abused by the nasty French and Italian tabloids. During last night's Olympic broadcast, she is seen, care of NBC’s up close and personal, but they don’t call it that anymore, on the side of an empty pool, back in France, alone and sad, lamenting how she will retire. She has had to leave Italy. And to top if off, her Mario has hooked up with that Italian Hussy, Federica Pellegrini.

Woe oh woe is Laure!

But there’s the Olympics. She will not retire. She will not let those stupid Italians keep her out of the pool and out of the Cube. She will SWIM!

And so she does. In the finals of the 400 freestyle. And guess who one of her competitors is? Yup, none other than that goddamn Italian boyfriend stealer, Federica.
What’s Laure to do?
Take her clothes off again?
Swim her heart out! And she does. She's ahead for the first half of the race. Way ahead. But PP knows. It's a long race. Will Laure be able to maintain that speedy pace? Or will she tire, her long lean swimmer muscles tightening and slowing when the final lap arrives.

Oh, Laure! We love you! Keep it UP!
But alas!
She could not. And beautiful, brave Laure came in last in her race, with Pellegrini ahead of her in 5th place.

Well, at least the Italian didn’t win it. And frankly, PP can’t even remember who did. Maybe an Australian. Or that amazing Coventry from Zimbabwe. Or maybe it was one of those Brits.

In any case, pool Laure, did not win. She lost the man. She lost the race. She lost her clothes.

It is all so French.
PP can only speculate what Laure did after the race.

Hopefully she grabbed herself a big bottle of champagne, toasted her retirement, and found a handsome Chinese basketball player to fool around with.

Sometimes getting out of your sport and into bed with another is the only answer to heartbreak and tragedy.

At least for a night.
At least for the Olympics.
At least for Laure!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Lil' Kitty Joke

“How’s the Red Devil?” PP grins as she watches Fish Woman submerge thankfully into the Hot Tub, her big brown breasts floating beneath the bubbly surface, her sigh
heartfelt and long.

She stares at PP for a moment, completely uncomprehending. Oh dear, PP thinks to herself, did she get the wrong woman? Is it someone else who’d told her about Big Red and this woman now thought she was crazy asking her about the Red Devil, cause, Hell, 'How's the Red Devil?' is a weird question to ask a stranger out of the blue in the Hot Tub at the YMCA at 9:35 on a Wed. eve.

“You trippin me out….” Red Devil Possibly Woman announces, glancing over at DL for confirmation. DL has a virus and is completed spacey and smiley. So PP isn’t sure if she’ll be any help in this situation. Yet PP perseveres. She’s in it now. If she’s got the wrong woman, well, that’s the way it goes. Red Devils might be in her world anyway since she mentioned how she was ‘trippin’ out,’ a phrase that later DL laughs about. “I haven’t heard THAT in years! It’s so Old Oakland!”

“Aren’t you the one who told me about your Red Devil Fish a couple of months ago?” PP plunges on.
RDPW breaks into a smile, “OH, yeah! Now I remember. You got you a good memory!” she chuckles.
“Well, it isn’t often that I’m told stories about a Red Devil Fish,” PP giggles, relieved that she hasn’t made a mistaken fish woman identity.
“That true. That true.”
“How’s he doing? Did he go on vacation with you?” Red Devil Woman had been telling them before how she’d been to Nevada for the last week. That’s why she hadn’t been around. Though PP hadn’t seen her in months truth be told. No matter. The fish was all that she cared about.

Laughing, RDW shakes her head, waving one chunky arm at PP. “No, he stayed at home but I got me some Allergy Catchers for him.”
PP smiles, unsure. Allergy Catchers? Did the Red Devil have a sinus problem? PP had no idea that such an affliction could infect a fish!
“Yea, got me some of those Allergy Catchers to clean up all the Allergy on the Fish tank. Round the sides. Round the bottom. They eat it all up!”

“Ah…” PP grins, glancing over at DL’s wide-eyed delight. At least she wasn’t too virusy to catch the Allergy Catchers.

Later, while PP was trying desperately to get dressed before being kicked out, DL shared with PP a cat comic she’d cut out of the paper, and they were laughing over the kitty with the grenades to impel his owner to feed him with much cat asides, and RDW, getting dressed at the locker next to them, grinned, “Y'all like lil’ kitties?”
“Oh, yes!” PP and DL had chorused.

“I got me a lil' kitty joke, it only take a minute.”
“Sure,” DL nodded, eyeing PP conspiratorially.
Sitting on one of the square wooden stools, now dressed in her tight blue jeans and white crocheted top, RDW began to chuckle and then dove in:

“There was this lil' kitty and he passed on and went to heaven….”

OH, NO! PP thought. Not a dead kitty! She couldn’t handle this.

But it was too late, DFW plowed on, “And when the lil' kitty got to heaven God said, You been such a good lil' kitty, you can have anything you want. What do you want? And the lil' kitty said, 'I like me a nice fluffy pillow.' And the Lord said, 'Okay, here you go', and gave the lil' kitty the nice fluffy pillow and the lil' kitty sat hisself right down and he really did enjoy that nice fluffy pillow the Lord gave him. And then the next day, a lil' mouse he died and went to heaven and when the Lord asked him 'What do you want if you could have anything?' and the lil' mousie said, 'I want me a pair of roller skates.'

And God said, “Roller skates? What you be wanting roller skates for?' And the lil mousie just shrugged and said, 'That’s what I want.You said I could have anything I want.' So the Lord said, 'Okay, and gave the lil mousie the roller skates and the lil mousie, he put them on and went skating all around the heavenly clouds.

And the next day, God was happenin' by the lil kitty on his fluffy pillow and he said, 'How’s everything going?' RDW paused for dramatic effect before delivering the punch line: DL and PP stood in kitty joke rapture. It was all too marvelous!

And the lil kitty said, ‘Great. Thanks a lot for The Meal on Wheels!'

PP, DL and RDW busted up just as the beautiful Tibetan Woman, frowning, tried to gather up their used towels from under their benches.
“That’s so funny!” PP laughed.

“Yeah!” RDW agreed, rising to gather her stuff, “That one was told me by a Senior Citizen!”

Laughing at this too, RDW turned and closed her locker, “Y’all have yourselves a good evening now!”

“Oh, we will!” DL and PP agreed, watching her shuffle slowly out of the locker room, her back still shaking with chuckles as she opened the heavy door to let herself out.

Later, walking up the stairs, DL whispered to PP, “That was worth the price of admission!”

“Oh, yeah," PP agreed, thinking how that lil' kitty had more than a lil' bit of the Red Devil in him as she followed DL out into the Oakland night.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Horizontal Ambition

PP has always had the seemingly unrealistic fantasy of moving to Hawaii for obvious swimming and temperature reasons. Where else could she swim in the ocean to her heart’s content 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, with no worries for freezing cold waters or air temp that dips below 72 degrees?

Plus, all the public pools are FREE!!!!

Is this her version of paradise or what?

So, when her colleague at WWU sent her the job announcement for Director of the Writing Center and U of HI, Hilo, well…

She had a moment of intense wonderment and anticipation. Could IT really happen? Could her dream of living and working in Paradise, the place where she feels most at home in the world, really happen?

But then, reality set in. It was a REAL job. With a REAL application process. And then if she were hired, well, she’d have REAL Responsibilities.


PP doesn’t really want to work. This has been established over and over again. All she wants to do is swim and write and play piano.

So, she’s torn. To apply or not apply?
That is the question….

To which, The Lovely I had some very profound insight to offer on their way to the pool yesterday. Leave it to her to ally PP’s guilt about her lack of ‘ambition.”

“You just have Horizontal Ambition,” The Lovely I had pronounced after PP finished narrating her quandary re: the U of HI job.
“Horizontal Ambition? I like the sound of that,” PP had grinned, picturing the many horizontal ambitions she likes to partake of.
“Yes. I’m the same way.”
Of course she is, PP thought to herself, “What is Horizontal Ambition exactly?”

“Well, I have this friend and he was just like the rest of us way back when in college and didn’t seem to have any ambition but then he got into this business and then…..” Here is where PP spaces out a bit with the business talk. She doesn’t follow it too well. Maybe this is part of her Horizontalness?

“…..anyway,” The Lovely I was to the essential part now, PP could tell by the tone of her voice, “ he’s this big success now and runs this company and (PP could be making this part up, but you get the idea) and so when I told him about how I’m downsizing my Art Career, did I tell you that?”

“Yeah, I think so. You were gonna treat it more like a hobby?” PP didn’t really understand this, but got the idea that the Lovely I’s Art Career was costing her more than making her in many different avenues of her life and so she was going to make it less of a business and more of what? A Hobby? That sounds so not serious, doesn’t it? And the Lovely I is very serious about her Art, so maybe this isn’t really what it means. Again, the Horizontal Ambition may be the very explanation PP is searching for.

“Exactly!” The Lovely I exclaimed as she turned into Mills Parking lot and headed toward the pool. “So when I was telling this business friend about my Art Career he told me that there’s a name for this, and it’s called Horizontal Ambition. You know how usually Ambition is seen as Vertical. That you’re climbing UP the ladder to success? Well, Horizontal is more of a sideways approach. It’s a broadening of your skill set, instead of climbing UP for new ones.”

”AH….” PP nodded. Of course! She had tons of Horizontal Ambition. Her improvs around Chopin’s Nocturnes. Her residency at the Mary Anderson Center. Her using the big fins more to swim longer without hurting her neck as much.

All Horizontal!

It made perfect sense. So now, when PP is faced with the Vertical Ambition of this job for the Director (VERY VERTICAL!) of the Writing Center at U of HI in Hilo, she has to take her natural Horizontalness into consideration. Vertical is so not her! She likes the prone position for so many reasons. Swimming, of course is profoundly horizontal. Gliding along on the water’s surface. Kicking on her back watching the white puffy clouds float in off the bay over Mills Pool. Streaking through the lane, big fins on, her arms reaching out, stretching over the water.

All Horizontal.

Not to mention the horizontalness of her other activities that she so enjoys.

She’ll leave these to your imagination.

In the meantime, she shall try to stretch her Verticalness to at least write the goddamn letter to U of HI about how she meets their minimum/desirable criteria for her dream job.

If only she could perform her Director Duties in a hammock under a palm tree….

Now there’s an Ambition she could get Very Vertical About!

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...