“Mercy!” she exclaims, plopping down on the wooden bench, a dark blue towel barely covering her enormous girth. She smiles tiredly over at PP, and then just sits. Breathing. It’s been quite a workout for her at the Corydon YMCA, PP thinks.
For PP too. Finally, she’s got the lay of the YMCA land here in Indiana. Today the swim was lovely and perfect. Why even the lifeguard, when he saw her come out on deck, created her own lane for her because the Kentucky Navy Seals were training in the lap lanes. Neither of these things would happen in Oakland: a lifeguard even caring she were alive, or Navy Seals venturing into the Oakland Y!
She doesn't know what's going on at first when she walks on deck and sees a coach in army fatigue pants, those scary jungle ones, and a Navy Seals t-shirt on, hollering numbers at the 4 scrawny white guys training intervals in the pretty little pool.
"28! 29! 30!” he yells. When PP ventures near Shouting Coach to retrieve a kickboard from under the lifeguard stand, she smiles tentatively and says, ‘Hi.” Navy Seal Trainer glares at her, kinda says ‘hi’ back but it was more like a grunt, accompanied by a ‘Can’t-you-see-I’m-busy-Lady’ frown.
Damn. PP had seen sadistic serious swim coaches in her life, but nothing like this guy.
It seems that Navy Seals train in the middle of the country so far from the sea that they hafta come to the Corydon Y. It is another world here. In so many ways.
But back to the wide tired woman in the locker room. Of course, PP has to talk to her. Anyone that plops down, exhausted in the women’s locker room and exclaims “Mercy” must be engaged. (And how ‘Midwestern is that? Mercy! PP loves it!)
“You musta had quite a workout,” PP ventures, knowing she hadn’t been in the pool, she woulda noticed her!
“Oh no. I ain’t a member here. I just took me a shower cuz they let you. I had no idea. I been without electric for 8 days now and let me tell you....” Mercy Woman’s voice trailed off as she shook her head.
“Wow! 8 days! That’s a lot!” PP commiserates. “I was only without it for 3 days and Lordy that was plenty enough for me!” (PP wonders if she stays here longer she’ll start talking Midwestern? Saying “Mercy” like it’s the most natural thing in the world. Wouldn’t that be cool?)
“Yeah...8 days. It is a trial.”
(Did she say that? Or is PP remembering the other dialogue she had with the Bible Belt couple walking by Snake Lake who had named their Jack Russell Terrier puppy after Noah’s great-grandfather in the bible. Of course, PP can’t remember the name, being the avid bible reader that she is. It was something like ‘Echo’ or ‘Ecchit’ or ‘Eckee’, no that wasn’t it....)
At the Y, PP takes out her Hello Kitty Hair Dryer and heads over to the sink as Mercy Woman continues to just sit on the bench, completely spent. That shower after 8days really did her in. PP can’t imagine going without a shower for 8 days. How awful would that be? Your hair. Your armpits. Your...Okay, you get the idea.
“.....and fortunately, I din’t hafta go to work this week or take care of my mom or any of that stuff otherwise I don’t know what....” MW continues, standing now to try to dry off the massive white rolls of flesh drooping round her middle.
PP tries not to stare. Hell, she should be used to Big Women with all of her experience at the Y in Oakland, and for the most part she is, but this woman, she was big in a different way. A slower way. Does that make sense? Like the rolls and folds and her movement around them had a quiet lumbering pace to them. And then when she was finally dressed, in navy stretch pants and white top, MW was completely tuckered out. Like this act of showering and dressing had just taken everything out of her.
Well, this made sense, didn’t it? If you hadn’t had a shower for 8 days, the process would be quite a shock to your system.
Drying her hair, PP sees MW waddle out; she doesn’t say goodbye. Too tired perhaps?
PP calls after her, "Bye! You sure must feel better now!" But MW looks right through her. It's that locker room glazed stare that takes over. No more words, acknowledgements or glances can be processed. Esp if the Hello Kitty hair dryer is running!
Suddenly PP is tired too. Today had been so much easier now that she knew how to get here. (Hell, when PP made the Left Turn on the YMCA road earlier and noticed the Shanghai Chinese Restaurant right on the corner, the big red and white sign so prominent, she wonders, why didn’t Ardis Fucking Moonlight just tell her to turn left at the Chinese Restaurant?)
Oh that woulda been way too easy!
(Hey, Lovely I, do you want a menu?)
And so, success! At last! For PP and her swim, MW and her shower, and the Navy Seals?
Lord have Mercy on them!