Thursday, February 26, 2009

She Stink!

"Hey! PP! I totally thought of you last night when I was at the YMCA!"

Her beaming colleague, Wondrous Admin Miracle Worker, twirled in her swivel chair as PP dumped her stuff on the floor and opened the desk drawer to search for the key to her office. "Yeah?"

"Yeah. I was in the locker room, where the Hot Tub is. You know where I mean?"
PP nodded, "Of course."

"Well. I totally thought of you cause there musta been at least 8 women in the hot tub and when this other woman tried to get in without taking a shower there was the hugest Uproar!"

Laughing, PP nodded again. It was a Theme lately. The lack of Shower Taking before soaking. PP recalled DW's extreme distaste last Saturday night when this enormous woman, tattooed, folds of softness on her arms, and evidently a cloud of sweat surrounding her, climbed down into the tub. DW frowned at her, held her fingers to her nose, pinching it closed, waving her hand around, and mouthing "P.U." at PP. Then she'd proceeded to scold Enormous Shower Transgressing Woman "YOU need take shower first!"

EST Woman just glared at her and shrugged as she continued to edge into the tub. "You understand?" DW was not going to be dissuaded so easily from her Hygiene Enforcement Task. "Take Shower first, okay?"

EST Woman gave her a look that would sink any Normal Scolding Woman, but did absolutely nothing to dissuade DW. However, instead of settling into the tub, she did turn around and meander back out of the tub after DW's admonishing.

DW shook her head at PP. "She STINK! She go upstair. She work out. She Sweat. It disgusting!"

Laughing, PP had agreed. Was glad that DW was doin the policing and not herself. She was not about to police anyone, esp someone of EST W's stature and stench.

So, when her co-worker mentioned that this had also been a problem a few nights later, PP had to wonder if it had been the same woman or another sweaty culprit?

It was all so Important!

Yet there was something in the air at the Y lately. Much tension around closing time with the intercom's booming announcement declaring how the doors would be locked 'promptly at 10 p.m.', which caused much muttering and eye rolling amongst the women of Utopia. And then a 'cat fight' had been reported by SSW, some brouhaha between a staff person and a member. And now this business with shower disdain around the hot tub.

"...and I wondered, why do they care?" her colleague continued. "I mean. The jacuzzi was this icky green chemically color and anyone I mean anyone who went in there would be so cleaned. I didn't go in myself. Too scary. All those chemicals...." She shuddered, shaking her head at the very thought of such an enterprise.

Nodding, PP had found the key to her office and was now heading over to unlock it thinking how the greenness of the Jacuzzi was another story altogether, but also wishing that she'd unlock her office and find that they'd built a jacuzzi for her. Why one would fit just perfectly! She could lounge about in the bubbly warmth and read papers. Drink tea. Talk to students....

Well, maybe that last part might be a challenge. After all, she wasn't so sure she'd like to share a jacuzzi with some of her students.

Though Wondrous Ad Min Woman was another story. She'd be a delight to share a hot tub with. Esp if she updated PP on all the happenings at the Y that she'd missed.

Stories for stories.

How wondrous would that be?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Birthday at the Pool

It had been a mixed day.

Her Ex, the Famous, (or is it Infamous?) Owen Hill, celebrated poet and mystery writer, had rumbled into her drive in his 1989 Toyota Tercel with books by Roberto Bolano. This was a nice surprise! And her neighbor, the charming yet unpredictable, KE knocked on her door with Ritter Cornflake candy bars and a beautiful card of blue night sky, magic bird nest and resting woman.

So. These were a wonderful way to start her day.

But then, even though it was PP’s birthday, she still had to work. What are ya gonna do? It’s not like Woo Woo U was gonna give her the day off so she could spend her entire birthday at the pool. Which is, of course, what she would do.

And so, the City of Oakland would have to grant her free parking for her birthday so she could spend all day at the pool.

And the YMCA would have to clear ONE lane for her ALL day so she could swim blissfully without interruption ALL Day.

And the angels of the Neck Brigade would have to grant her a PAIN free neck all day so she could take advantage of her own lane and free parking!

Next, all the women of Utopia would have to gather and sing her Happy Birthday at the end of her swimming day and provide her with much delicious food from their various cultures and cake and cookies from PP’s own culture, which is the culture of SUGAR!

Finally, Greenlee on All My Children has the same Birthday as PP, Feb 20, so it would really be ideal if she would come back from the Dead already to toast PP with some Don Perignon! As only Greenlee can do!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cut the BullCrap!

“I lost my cell phone the other day. My husband gave it to me on Monday and I lost it on Friday.”

PP laughs, though in retrospect it really wasn’t funny. Maybe it had something to do with Cell Phone Loser’s delivery. Sour Latina YMCA Clean-up Woman wasn't laughing, only grunting silently. She just wanted to float in the hot tub. Not hear stories about losing cell phones.

PP, however, was all about the story. But you all know that.
And it gets better.
And more intense.

“Where did you lose it?” PP asks, thinking it’s just a banal story, but she’s game anyway. The pool is Chaos according to Sweet Kindness Lifeguard who was up at the front counter ostensibly to learn the tricks of the counter check-in trade but PP thinks she just wanted to escape the Pandemonium of the Pool. Consequently, PP was gonna hang out in the Hot Tub till the pool calmed down.

Or CPL’s story was finished.

“At Lucky’s,” she laughs ruefully. “I had it in my coat pocket and I was there with my 97 year old father and he wanted more water so I laid my coat over the carton of water that we already had bought and my cell phone was in the pocket and I told him to not move and to watch my coat. But he did. Move....what’ya gonna do? He’s 97 years old.”

Nodding, PP glances over at Sour Latina Woman who was gettin out of the tub. She’d had enough of the story. Or she had to get back to work. Or she was just done with the tub soak. In any case, she was outta there. Like it matters to CPL woman. She still had PP as an audience.

“Yeah...” PP nods, encouraging. “Maybe your phone just fell outta the pocket?”

”Nah. I don’t think so. I think someone took it. Cuz the pockets have that ZZZRRCCHHH” she makes a Velcro noise pulling open and closed with her flighty hands. “They’d have to open up the pocket to get the phone out. My husband couldn’t believe it that I lost it already. He got it for me cause I’m on the waiting list for a new liver. I told you that.”

PP nods. No. She hadn’t told her. All they’d talked about before was how CPLW had a bunch of pirated DVD’s and was gonna loan The Curious Story of Benjamin Button ("That one is so cute!" she'd exclaimed) movie to her. PP hadn’t really wanted to get into the ethics and borrowing of stolen movies so she was glad that CPLW had seemingly forgotten about this.

Now she knew why. Probably needing a new liver made one forget things.

“Well,” PP tries for an encouraging smile. How does one respond to a stranger telling you you’re on the waiting list for a new liver? “I’m sure he’ll get you another one. Cell phone that it...”

She nods, sighs, then grins. “Yeah, he will. I need it to get my liver. But you know, I don’t trip on it. I know I’m gonna die. But it’s okay. I can kinda get things in....” Her voice trails off for a moment, and then she brightens, “...I can stop all the BullCrap that I was pulling before this and really get my life to where the Lord wants it. You know what I mean?”

PP didn’t really, but she nodded anyway. Riveted, she just floated and smiled.

“.....I’m off the Marijuana. I’m on the Hepatitis Drugs. I go to this meeting over on 32nd and there are about 28 people in the group and about 15 of them are taking this hepatitis drug and it’s really working for some. For me...” She shrugs. “Hey, it’s okay. I don’t trip on it. We’re all gonna die. I just thank the Lord that I got the time I do.”

The God Squad. That’s what PP’s sis calls it. Their Gram is a member of it and it must be comforting as hell (no anti-pun intended). PP, on the other hand, wishes she believed in It sometimes. It would, perhaps, take some of the pressure off?

Yet, listening to CPLW’s story, PP had to admire her no nonsense bravado. It was inspiring and made PP question what her problems were in comparison to such hardships. She gets all worked up over the pool being crowded or cold. Or the cat peeing all over her apartment. Or the neighbor clomping overhead. Or a myriad of really inconsequential things.

It isn’t like she needs a Liver Transplant for Chrissakes.

And, later, in the Mayhem of the Pool, this is what she feels like telling the Frustrated Angry Can’t We Get Some Lane Management Over Here Woman who yells at Sweetness Kind Lifeguard when 2 super spaced out slow as tortoises Asian guys invade her lane.

“I Pay too! And I get kicked out of my lane cuz you people can’t be bothered to Manage the Lane!” she hollers at Pool Sweetness Lifeguard who’s trying to get off the phone, probably with her boss, before she can help. But Yelling Woman is outta there.

And PP feels like saying, “Hey, cut the BullCrap! Sure it’s frustrating. Sure the lifeguards are lame at managing the lanes. But hell, it’s not like you just lost your cell phone so you can’t get The Call about your New Liver!"

Yet PP knows this is easier said than done. To compare your life’s ills to another and assess how yours pales in the comparison, on the surface, seems like it’d help. But in reality, it doesn’t. Why is this? Is it just PP’s HSK (Highly Sensitive Kitty) on overload all the time that doesn’t allow for this kind of Empathetic Analysis? She’s just so hyped up about her own issues that she doesn’t have any spare issue room to initiate complicated (or simple) life comparisons? Or is it just a holdover from her childhood? “Remember the Starving Children in China and clean your plate!”

PP never got this. What did cleaning her plate have to do with China’s Starving Children? It wasn’t like they were gonna be less hungry if PP ate all her peas!

So, today, when she hears CPLW’s Liver Woes, she does in theory, ooze sympathy and compassion, but in reality?

She’s just goddamn thankful that all she has to worry about is Lack of Lane Management at the Pool.

And maybe this is what Cut the BullCrap is all about!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Graham Greene on Pools.....

No one can give you the chills like Graham Greene:

(Dear Readers, please see previous blog entry first for linear storyline if that interests you; otherwise, steal yourself....)

"I followed him down the path to the bathing-pool.... It was empty of water now. My torch lit the shallows and a litter of leaves.

“’Other end,’ Joseph told me, standing quite still, not going any nearer. Doctor Philipot must have walked up to the narrow cave of shadow made by the diving-plank, and now he lay in a crouched position below it with his knees drawn towards his chin, a middle-aged foetus ready dressed for burial in his neat grey suit. He had cut his wrists first and then his throat to make sure. Above the head was the dark circle of the pipe. We had only to turn on the water to wash the blood away: he had been as considerate as possible. He could not have been dead for more than a few minutes. My first thoughts were selfish ones: you cannot be blamed if a man kills himself in your swimming-pool….” (p. 53).
~from The Comedians

No wonder PP remembered this scene.

Not that such a ‘situation’ would ever occur in the downtown Oakland YMCA empty under construction Jacuzzi…..


Nah, everyone’s way too happy here and would never consider bloodying the Jacuzzi. Yet PP wonders why Dr. Philipot thought of the empty pool for his last deed. Mr. Brown attributes it to ‘consideration’, yet PP wonders if that’s really the reason.

Maybe Dr. P was a swimmer and wanted to end his life where he’d been most happy? Maybe he remembered the days of glory at the Hotel Trianon before Haiti’s evil dictator, Papa Doc, and the corrupt, Tontons Macoute. The days of fancy cocktails and frolicking in the pool and as Mr. Brown recalls,

“….By midnight some of them (the visiting American Tourists) would be swimming in the pool naked. Once I looked out of my window at two in the morning. There was a great yellow moon and a girl was making love in the pool. She had her breasts pressed against the side and I couldn’t see the man behind her. She didn’t notice me watching her; she didn’t notice anything. That night I thought before I slept, ‘I have arrived’” (p. 51,)
~ The Comedians

Now why hadn’t PP remembered this sexy pool scene instead of the icky bloody body pool scene?

There’s definitely something wrong with her memory cells. She’s gonna work on this for future pool literary memory recall: Pool Sex over Pool Suicide.

If she can hone this, and she thinks she can, then like Mr. Brown she will ‘have arrived.’

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Crime Scene

”It looks like a Crime Scene,” SSW announces into the dark and silent Utopian den.

What is she talking about?

The Jacuzzi. It’s ‘under construction’ and it’s scary. She’s right. It does look like a crime scene what with the yellow ‘keep out’ tape all draped across the metal handrails on either side of the steps and the little pool drained to reveal a most disgusting and frightening murky white grayness with 3 little squares on the bottom that may serve as drains but now just stare back and out in eerie uselessness.

Plus it stinks. Like something died in there.

And this is exactly what SSW says next, “It’s like a dead body could be discovered in there. With that yucky red drizzle of something oozing onto the bottom ….”

Her voice trials off as PP and DL sit heaterized and rapt. “Wow!" PP exclaims. "That reminds me of a scene I either read or saw in a movie of a dead body that was hidden in the bottom of a drained pool and the protagonist had to figure out a way to get the body out of the pool without the police discovering that it was there. And I can’t remember what it was….a book? Was it a Graham Greene novel?”

No one answers PP’s thinking out loud looking for the right literary reference. “DL, do you read Graham Greene?”
She nods, “Yeah, I read one, but I can’t remember what it was called.”
“Did it have a dead body in an empty pool?”
”No…no, I don’t think so….”

SSW gets up and wanders out of Utopia. PP wonders if she’s somehow offended by PP not asking her if she's read Graham Greene. Just assuming that she only reads the popular political nonfiction that she talks about. Something by David Brinkley or was it Tom Brokaw?

See, PP can’t remember any specific referents. Literary or otherwise. But the scene in the pool is so vivid to her and it really bugs her that she can’t remember the exact place where she read or saw it. Is it just her brain is going? That her middle age mind is unable to retrieve important pool body details out of its crowded morass so that she can impress DL and SSW with her literary prowess?

Yet PP is fairly certain it is a Graham Greene novel called The Comedians. She can see it on her bookshelf. She’s gonna pull it out when she gets home.

In the meantime. The Jacuzzi remains a scary empty crime scene. One that PP can write about.

Even if she is no Graham Greene.

“It was a dark and scary night. The local police were out in force searching for the missing person of one Dexter Fleming. Dexter had had his run-ins with the law, but this time he’d been undone. And no one, not Sam, not Desiree, not even his beloved pit bull, Angel, could help him now as he lay, motionless at the bottom of the seedy jacuzzi that had been drained for 'construction purposes.....”

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Women Are So Vain

“Swim for me…..” Super Swimmer Woman sighs, longingly, “I haven’t been able to swim for three weeks.”

Trying to get her hair into her cap, PP grins down the row of lockers toward her, shaking her head in non-swimming commiseration. She wonders why SSW hasn’t been able to swim for three weeks, but doesn’t ask. She’s in such a hurry to get into the pool before Slacker Lifeguard blows the whistle.

“I can’t wear goggles,” SSW clarifies her reason for non-swimming without PP even having to ask.

Again, PP doesn’t ask why. She needs to swim and she needs to swim now. She’ll find out the story later. In Utopia.

This much she’s sure of.

And it’s true. As DL and she stumble, heaterized, into the dry dark cave after a blissful swim and productive weight training, in comes SSW, to towel off. PP can see now that there’s a HUGE bruise under her left eye. This is why she can’t wear goggles. Obviously.

But what happened?

They were about to find out as DL asks her about the bruise.

SSW shakes her head. “Cats.”

Of course. Everything wrong in the world is cats’ fault as far as PP is concerned right now. She is so completely at the end of her rope about her stupid cat, Mr. Pee, who’s been spraying all over her apt. for weeks now.

It’s stress. Or change. Or whim.
Whatever. It's extremely frustrating and anxiety producing!

He won’t use the cat door.
He won’t take the Salmon flavored kitty Prozac.
He won’t cooperate.

He’s a Cat.

And so when SSW blames her black eye on a cat, PP nods.
Of course.

“I slid in a pile of cat shit. That’s how this happened.”

DL and PP make suitable ‘oh no’ sounds as the large prone 3 bulks of basking brown women shift in uncomfortable silence. Do we really need to hear about cat shit while we're trying to relax in the sauna? their collective bodies seem to scream.

“Damn,” PP mutters. “Bad kitty!”

”Well, he’s a 15 year old cat. What're ya gonna do? But it was so stupid. I got up to go to the bathroom. It was 2 in the morning and I didn’t turn on the light. I can’t go back to sleep if I turn on the light.

“Me too," PP agrees. "Actually they say that it’s scientifically proven that turning on the light in the middle of the night makes it hard to go back to sleep.”

“Well, it’s true for me. But anyway, I didn’t turn on the light so it was Dark. And I was wearing a long flannel night gown cause it was cold. And Deana puts the litter boxes in the tub, cause that’s where she puts them. And obviously the Cat missed the litter box and whoops! There I go. Down. Landed smack on my face.”

”OH No!” PP and DL both cry out.
“Yeah. I wish it’d been my ass.”
“You can really hurt yourself there too,” PP offers. “You could land on your tail bone and cause all sorts of problems and….”

“I know I know. But I landed here on my face and had to have stitches in my nose and then the plastic surgeon who looked at it later said it was a horrible job the doc had done so he had to cut my nose open again and re-stitch it. Women are so vain. I was wearing dark glasses to hide. It all reminded me of my Chemo Days when I wore big dark glasses and a big floppy hat and put on bright red lipstick…….”

Her voice trailed off as DL and PP sat rapt. Damn. Kitty Litter and Cat Shit can be the cause of so much physical and emotional pain.

PP knows this. Hell, her Mr. P cat and his litter box issues are driving her to seek Prozac herself.

But this was nothing compared to Chemo.

Or not being able to swim for 3 weeks.

This, of course, seemed the very worst of the situation to PP, as all her readers know. Swimming is the answer to soothe all ailments and anxieties, large and small. Without it, well, you may as well just go into hiding.

Just watch out for the cat shit.
And the cat pee.
And the dark glasses.
And the red lipstick.
And whatever else gets in the way of swimming.

Though PP thinks that even if she couldn't wear goggles, she'd still find a way to get in the pool.

At least in the water, it's a Cat Free Zone for a little while!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

True Beauty?

PP feels a surprise tap on her fins, stopping her in her tracks, so to speak, before turning at the wall.

It’s Hemophiliac Swimmer, waving her into his lane. “I’m done,” he announces, grinning his toothless smile at her. “It’s all yours!” He motions to his private lane, giving first dibs to her.

Feeling quite honored, PP nods and dives under the lane line, “Thanks,” she beams before beginning to head back down the lane. But not before seeing HS attempt to change from a water to air situation.

It’s alarming. HS has somehow managed to heave himself out of the water and onto the deck (PP thinks that he usually uses the stairs. Why not today? To get out of her way?)

Now he's rolling on the deck, in a near fetal position, teetering dangerously on the wet cement, his great turtle head rocking in a weird sort of lopsided bob.

Damn! she thinks. Is he okay? Has he just lost his balance for a moment? Or is he just tired after the effort of the swim and the heave-up onto the deck? Or is he having some sort of Hemophiliac Seizure or stroke and she needs to do Something?

“Hey,” she pauses, “Are you okay?”
Rocking still, he waves her away, “Yeah. I’m fine. Don’t’ stop!” For after all he’s all about the workout. Not wanting her to give up an instant in her aerobic aqua endeavors.

Worried, PP glances over at the lifeguards, Sweet Kindness and Stacked Dangly Earrings, chatting in oblivion at HS’s plight.

Thinking she better at least alert them (Once again it occurs to PP how lame the lifeguards can be here at the YMCA! Isn’t it their job to be aware of any swimmer’s distress? Esp. one who’s 82 years old with a life threatening Blood condition?), PP considers waving them over, but HS’s insistent, “Go ahead. Don’t stop,” he repeats, as she continues to glance between him and the lifeguards.

Now they seem to see him, their gaze moving toward the rolling egg-like form on the deck. PP can tell they’re going to meander over this way, but she wonders, did she do enough? Shouldn’t she have hollered out to them? Or gotten out of the pool and steadied HS till they arrived?


Would PP have passed the True Beauty “test”? If the hidden camera had been filming would Vanessa and Cheryl and Nole’ have ‘passed’ or ‘failed’ her on her Inner Beauty in helping an old man in obvious distress?

As the lifeguards approach and HS sits up now, PP thinks okay! It’s okay.... he’s okay. She would’ve passed, not failed, like Chelsea when she swore at the gardener who ‘accidentally’ hosed her in her stilettos and fluffy squirt on the way to the Hall of Beauty.

Yet, she has to wonder. How can one really tell if the distress warrants aid or not? True Beauty aside, isn’t it better to error on the side of caution rather than assume someone is okay, even if he says he is? Who cares if he gets embarrassed or she misses a couple minutes of her precious workout. Isn’t the distress of another swimmer something that needs to always take precedence?

Of course. And Chelsea just couldn’t help herself when she swore at the gardener or burped at the crying hairdresser or called Billy an Idiot.

She’s a girl. She gets bitchy. Girls are allowed.

Vanessa and Cheryl and Nole’ are careful not to test their Beauties in any life or death situations. This would be way too risky.

Esp. if Chelsea were involved.

Thank goodness she doesn’t swim. And HS is okay.

And PP’s True Beauty is intact.

Now if only she could work on her outer beauty.

But that’s for another show.

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...