Friday, May 28, 2010


So…. (PP likes this beginning today. Jon Carroll wrote about the empathetic reader usage of the word ‘so’—PP is paraphrasing badly here—and how the word ‘so’ implies a continuing ‘invitation’ to the reader. We were having this conversation before, we were interrupted because the column, blog, book ended, but hey, we’re back again, ready to story away. Or in this case, to blog away…)

So….PP was doing just fine until she tried to go to the Oakland YMCA. No one had broken down in tears over her paper; no one had flaked on sending in her paper over the email; no one had had anything but smiles and appreciation all day for PP.

So….she was in a good mood. Off to Utopia to meet DL. It was always an event to look forward to, right?

So, when PP landed at Broadway and 22nd street where the Y was situated, and there were no parking places, she thought, well, this was to be expected. She did expect it. She liked it when her expectations were not realized around this situation, but she never expected to just drive up Broadway and park right in front of the Y. This is a rare and wonderful occurrence.

So, as you may have inferred, this most assuredly did NOT happen this evening. PP went around and around and around the YMCA block. Car after car scooped her on parking places. Yes! There’s one on Grey Plush Cat Street. Sweet! Nope, that stupid bitch in her Cadillac Escalade does a U turn and swerves right into it ahead of her. Damn. Okay, this happens.

So, she circles again. Another spot opens up. This time right in front of the Y. YES! But no, there’s a zippy black Lexus backing into it at 79 miles an hour.

And so on…..

Finally, finally finally after 15 minutes, PP is very near tears. Muttering to herself, “What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? Damn damn damn if DL wasn’t going to be meeting me I’d just to home...."

And there it is. A silver Chevy pulls out. She screeches to a halt. Puts the emergency blinkers on. Cars swerve around her. She doesn’t care. She’s staying put till the silver Chevy exits. He does. The space is super small. Between two huge SUV’s. Her first attempt at parallel parking is a bust. She tries not to cry. Pulls out again, tries one more time. And finally.

She’s parked.

For a moment she just sits in the car. Breathing. Okay, she did it. Everything is going to be okay. All she needs is a swim to put everything right.

And, the pool.

Up the stairs, lugging all of her junk, PP tries to smile at the chattering clerks. Till she sees the sign.

Pool closed
till further notice
due to Pump Failure.


How oh how could this be?

So…what do you think PP does?

Collapse in a crying heap on the lobby floor, sobbing piteously, wailing, “I can NOT believe the pool is closed. I can’t believe it!” at the top of her lungs, creating a scene worthy of a mad heroine in a Wilkie Collins novel?

Or….does she sigh, turn around and just leave?

Or….does she stand there for a moment, glaring at the clerks, who finally notice her, fins in hand, moroseness on face, “Oh, the pool is closed!” one of them exclaims, sympathy oozing.

PP doesn’t want any sympathy. She wants, no she needs to swim!

“Why?” PP asks, knowing the answer since it’s right there on the sign: Pump Failure. Whatever the hell that means. Why does a pool need a pump?

She was going to find out.

“The water level kept getting lower and lower,” one of the clerks offers, “and no one knew what was going on till we called in someone who told us that the pump was broken and so all the water was leaking out and so (so!) the pump has been replaced and the pool is filled with water again, but it’s too cold for swimming.”

”How cold?” PP asks.
“Like 60 degrees,” the other one shakes her head. “Too cold.”
PP doesn’t answer. As you all know anything under 80 degrees is too cold for her.
60 degrees?
The pool may as well have still been waterless. Cold water. No water. Same thing.

“I really needed a swim,” PP mutters, not looking at either of the clerks.
“You want go to Berkeley?” Cold Reporter One offers.
“NO, I can’t drive anymore!” PP sighs, grimacing. “I guess since I’m meeting my friend, I’ll just do the machines. But it’s not the same as swimming.”
CRO nods sympathetically.
“So, great!” The Other One exclaims. “Go ahead. Come on in. Take a hot tub. Relax!”


PP almost slapped her.

But she didn’t.

So, what to do but do the workout with DL. And it’s fun. So (Isn’t this word everywhere?) You Think You Can Dance was on the TV’s over the treadmills. PP doesn’t have earphones, but this okay. She can watch. And remember.

All was well before she came to the Y.

And now all is well because of DL and SO YTYCD!

So, next time you’ve had a really fine day and then something really bad happens like you can’t find a parking place and the pool is closed, remember: Swimming isn’t everything. There is fine Y time without the pool.

So….do you believe her when she says this?

Nah, you’re way too smart and have been in ‘this conversation’ way too long to believe even one word that PP writes!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

This Means You!

“Did you just get outta the pool?”

She wrinkles her pert nose, the eyes behind her wire rimmed glasses sighing, “No. Did you see the sign?”

PP had indeed seen the sign.

Please keep fecal matter out of the pool!
Wash your butt before going in the pool!
(This means you!)
Thank you very much for helping
the YMCA to keep fecal matter out of the pool.

PP esp. had liked the ‘Wash your butt—this means you!' line. Like were the lifeguards gonna check everyone’s butt before they were allowed into the pool?
"Okay everyone! Line up. Drop your suit. Spread your cheeks….”

Somehow, PP thought not.

But it was kind of a funny image as long as it stayed that: an image in her imagination.

Yet Did You See the Sign Woman was not amused. “I’m not EVER going in the pool again!” she announced, before turning away from PP and beginning her getting dressed ritual.

Grinning, PP wondered if this was going to be the general consensus. Everyone would stay out of the pool for fear of unwashed fecal matter on butts.

And when she got in the pool 10 minutes later, it seemed so. She had her own lane. There were only 5 or so brave swimmers, daring the fecal matter to impede their workouts.

Yet, alas, the keep-out-of-the-water power of the sign was just wishful thinking. Sure enough, in 20 minutes, the pool was full of the usual suspects: sidestroke toenail man, grey hair in his face man, butterfly fin man, etc.

No way were they gonna let the threat of a little fecal matter stop them!

And PP had to admit that she certainly wasn’t going to let it stop her.

After all, she’d washed her butt!

Let’s just hope everyone else did!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Puffy Ass!

“You put on a little weight, huh?” Suzy chuckles her hazy laugh as she eyes PP’s ass.

Aghast, PP turns and eyes herself in the mirror, her swimsuit hiding nothing. “Gosh, I don’t know,” she answers, thinking. What the hell? Doesn’t Suzy know that you don’t tell a middle aged American Woman that she’s put on weight no matter how ‘slim’ she may be? That there are still issues? And PP and Sandy had just been discussing cookies. “My Aunt Doreen, we call her Aunt Do –get it?" Sandy had laughed, "her secret is in the flour. She uses a particular kind of flour for each kind of cookie."

“Yup,” Suzy continues, slapping her own ass and cackling, “That’s what happens when we work out. We puff out there. Of course, not me—but you, looks like you put on a bit of weight right there!”

Would she just shut the hell up already? PP does NOT need to hear this tonight. It brings up all those suburban white girl issues around weight and beauty and shit. Will she ever get over her teens?

Probably not. Or at least not with Suzy hammering away at her.

But Suzy pays for her puffy ass comments later. After PP's swim, Suzy is in total trauma mode. DL's trying to help her get her lock to work. To no avail. Suzy is beside herself. The tears near the surface, “Oh, shit oh shit oh shit! They’re gonna kick me out. This is what happened before. Oh what am I gonna do.”

For a moment, PP considers trying to help, but then the puffy ass comment comes back to her.

Forget it. Suzy can just have a nervous breakdown over her goddamn lock. Who cares if she’s completely crazy, delusional, liver transplanted and hysterical.

She deserves to get banned from the Y for insulting PP’s ass.

Or maybe she meant it as a compliment? PP did think of this later. After all, in Suzy’s world as an ex-user and dialysis patient, putting on a bit of weight would be a compliment, right?

DL can’t get the lock open. The No Nonsense Y clerk arrives with the lock cutters and proceeds to snap the lock off.

Suzy’s relief pours out. “Oh thank you Jesus. Thank you thank you. But now I’m gonna get kicked out!!!!"

(Some of you may remember how Suzy was called into the Director’s office and told if she was late again she was gonna lose her membership—hence the present nervous breakdown.)

“You still have 10 minutes,” NNY clerk intones, starting to pick up dirty towels from the floor.

“10 minutes! Yeah, okay, I’ll never make it….”

But she does. And she’s so happy. And grateful. Gives DL a teary goodbye, “I don’t know what I woulda done without you!” she exclaims. “You kept me calm. I don’t know what I would have done. Thank you thank you thank you.”

DL nods, embarrassed, “It was nothing. Anyone would have done the same.

Not PP!

Suzy wipes the tears away as she heads out, “God bless you. Thank you thank you thank you.”

PP, DL and Sandy all shake their heads, “You know her gratitude was really heartfelt,” Sandy says once Suzy is out of hearing range.
“Oh, yeah, I believe it,” DL agrees.
“She did seem a little overboard though,” PP observes, “Like there was something really traumatic going on.”
“Yeah, well, she’s in Recovery.”

Oh, that explains everything, PP thinks, as she slides her puffy ass into her jeans.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


“ARRGGHHH!!!” She laughs into the mirror, “I guess that mascara wasn’t waterproof!”

PP nods, smiling. She’d noticed this while sharing a lane with Mascara Smear Woman. Why someone would wear mascara in the first place, let alone in the pool, was beyond her. Nevertheless, PP realized that many women (and some men?) do decorate their eyes with this black stuff.

Yet it wasn’t waterproof. Or pool proof. PP observed this whenever MSW turned her head to breathe. The black smudges were getting bigger and blacker with each lap.

It was kinda funny. But also kinda alarming. After all where was all that black stuff going?

In the water. In PP's lane. Granted the pool at Hilltopia was chlorinated to the max, but still….

PP didn’t like the idea of swimming in diluted make-up.

So later, back in front of the mirror, PP asks, “Was it supposed to be water proof?”

“I don’t know,” MSW answers. “Obviously it’s not. Wow!”

She bends over the sink, starts to splash water on her face, making the black gunk run even more. Down her cheeks. Surrounding her eyes in big black circles. Like someone had slugged her in both eyes and these ‘black eyes’ were the resulting wounds.

“It won’t come off,” MSW laughs.

She’s very good natured about it. If it had been PP with such a situation, well. Those of you who know her know that she would not be good natured about it. She’d be swearing. And scrubbing and crying and generally just making matters worse.

Which is often her want.

This is why make up should be avoided at all costs. Especially while swimming.

Unless you’re Esther Williams.
Somehow she was able to keep that perfect made up smile and face smear free while swimming.

But she was magic. From another swimming sphere than mere mortal swimmers like MSW.

Who continued to laugh while she pats her face dry. The black spots still stubbornly evident.

"Guess I better remember to take it off before I swim next time," she muses to the air.

Nodding, PP finishes wringing out her suit. Glad that her aversion to make up all of these years has at least saved her face in and out of the pool.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

It Can Kill a Kid!

“Can I ask you a question?”
The two bored YMCA Hilltopia clerks force a yes-we’ll-try-to-help-the-troublemaking- member smile.
“Kids aren’t supposed to be in the sauna, right?”
“No. No one under 18 is supposed to be in there.” Mousy Guy is adamant.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought. Last night there was this woman with her kid in the sauna and I was just too tired to engage in a confrontation so I let it go, but I just wanted to double check."
“How old was the kid?” Pinched Face Woman Clerk asks.
“Oh, I don’t know. She was little. 2 or 3.”
PFW shook her head. MG started in, “That’s against the rules. No one under 18 should be in the sauna," he repeated.
“Yeah, isn’t it a health risk?” PP asks.
“Yeah it is. Their little lungs aren’t as developed as ours. They can’t absorb the heat. Their temperatures rise much faster than ours. It can reach 105 like that.” He snaps his fingers to demonstrate the lightening speed of the sauna's deadly heat on wee ones.
“Okay, well that’s good to know for future reference,” PP, nods, armed with this info.
MG shakes his head in amazement. "You know some parents. They think they know what's best for their kids. But...." He pauses for dramatic effect? Or is this just PP's perspective?
“Children under 18 should never be in the sauna. It can kill a kid.”
MG nods.
“Okay, well, that’s really good to know."

And so it is. Next time the Stupid Superior Kid Mom comes into the sauna and PP says, “Kids aren’t supposed to be in here,” and SSKM gives PP that look like you are a piece of shit don’t talk to me about what I should or shouldn’t do with my kid and proceeds to lay out a towel while offering some bullshit explanation like: ‘It is just for a little while. The pool was so cold',[It's not--if PP can swim for 45 minutes without chilling up, then it's NOT cold!] and the kid sits down and then stands up and whines, 'Mommy I want my water!' and mommy says, 'Okay honey I’ll go get it' and she does and gives it to the kid who grabs it and proceeds to turn it upside down and laughs at how the gushing water spills all over the hot cement floor and then starts crying cause now she doesn’t have any water and PP gets up and leaves cause she just doesn’t have the energy to fight with the stupid bitch. And oh, did she mention that SSKM was pregnant? Smug pregnant bitch. Wonder what the sauna does to her unborn child? Those little lungs are super small, aren't they? And those little blood vessels are tiny tiny tiny, right?

Frankly, PP doesn't care about the unborn child. It's quiet at least. It's the one that's in her sauna now, whining and crying and jumping and giggling and .....

Hey! PP has an idea!

Next time, instead of just walking away incensed, she's gonna smile sweetly and say, “You know, the sauna can kill a kid.” See if that will get SSKM out of there.


PP could just keep this info to herself and let the kid fry in the sauna till its little lungs explode or its little heart stops beating or its little temperature spikes to 105 degrees.

Nah, she wouldn't really do that.

Would she?

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...