Thursday, July 29, 2010


“I tell you of this friend of mine. He is criminal. All of his life. He tell me he will always be criminal. He will always steal.”
“That is so sad.”
“It is, but he say it is all he know. That since he little boy, he steal.”
“And now he is grown, yes?”
“Oh, yes, he is a man now. But I tell you, I watch my stuffs around him. Even though he my friend.”

They laugh. PP stretches her arm up and over her head, the warm wood soaking into the sore muscles. She’s not going to participate today. It takes too much energy. But yet….

This resolve only lasts till Is So Sad Woman leaves. Friend of Criminal remains in Hilltopia. Alone with PP. So, the conversation must go on.

“I tell them upstair not to let children in here,” FOC scoffs.

PP sits up for this. She hates hates hates the kids in the women’s locker room.

“What did they say?” she asks. “You know, I also swim at Oakland, and no way do any kids even step foot into the women’s locker room. Those women would not stand for any screaming children in their domain!”
“They steal from me!”
“Really? What did they take?”
She glances through the glass window at her pink plastic Lily Wongs bag. “I not find anything missing. Yet.”
“So you saw them trying to take something?”
“Yes! I see them bending over my bag, going through it, and I chase them away. I say, 'HEY! YOU!! GET AWAY FROM THERE!'”
“And they ran away?”
“Oh, yes. But then when I go upstair to tell them about it, they ask me what they look like and I say, I don’t know. They have dark skin…..”

Her voice trails off. Does she know what she’s just slipped into? PP always finds it interesting how people of ‘minorities’ are often biased against each other. In this case, it’s an Asian woman being, dare PP say? racist? against ‘dark skinned’ children, presumably African American, but they could have been Mexican kids or Indian Kids…..or any number of ‘dark skinned’ races.

“Well,” PP nods, obviously she won’t point out the racism—way too taboo. Esp. since PP is a member of the golden blond race. Who also all look the same. Seen one blond, seen them all. “… least you were able to chase them off before they took anything.”

“That is true,” she agrees, sighing loudly, settling back into the warm wooden wall.
"Let's hope they don't make their lives one of Crime!" PP jokes.

But FOC turns toward her, nodding. "Yes. But if no one catch them, they get away with it, who know? They could be in Life of Crime."

"That would be so sad," PP repeats.

FOC nods, heaves another long sigh before PP rises and heads out of the sauna.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sorry for the Inconvenience....


Trudging up the stairs to the Oakland Y, PP spies the signage on the door. Shit. It can’t be. She can’t even read it. How does she know it’s about an ‘emergency pool closure’?

Yet, she does. It’s a swimmer’s intuition. A pessimist's realism.

And sure enough. The sign says:

Pool closed for emergency repairs.
Blah blah blah….
Sorry for the inconvenience.

Sorry for the inconvenience?

PP hates hates hates this! Like havin' the pool closed unexpectedly (again!) is an inconvenience?

No it’s life threatening! Don’t they know that without the scheduled swim on Wed., she’ll go absolutely stark raving mad?

Hell, if she’d known the pool was gonna be closed (which of course she didn’t, but more on that later) she woulda braved the Hilltopia Family Noodle Braining Mayhem on Tuesday. Now, she wouldn’t be able to swim till Friday! That’s 1, 2, 3, 4!!! days without swimming!


“What happened to the pool?” PP asks the 13 year old clerks at the front counter.
“It’s the same thing,” one answers. “The pump needs to be replaced. But this time they’re gonna fix it.”
“Really?” PP nods, fighting back tears. Damn damn damn. She needs a swim!
“Yes. It’ll be fixed tomorrow.”
“That doesn’t help me tonight.”
They nod, sympathetic, and really PP can tell they are. One of them asks if she brought any other clothes to work out in. Yeah, she had, but she just wanted to be in the water. He nods, but does he get it?
PP thinks not.

DL runs into PP in the downstairs lobby on her way up to the ballroom (stretching area). PP's ready to cry and of course, DL gets it completely (unlike the clerks upstairs & even though she’s not a swimmer! No wonder they’ve been friends for 30 years!)

“I just wonder why it keeps happening here,” DL says. “It wouldn’t happen in Palo Alto, for instance.”
“Yeah, it never happens at Hilltop or Berkeley,” PP agrees, thinking.
“It’s something about Oakland and the resources. Something about this Urban Y that isn’t allocated the resources that the other Y’s are because it's Oakland.”
“Yeah….maybe you’re right,” PP agrees. “I hadn’t thought of that.”
“We should write the BIG Boss and complain,” DL suggests.
“The pool manager?”
”NO, the BIG Boss of the YMCA in the Bay Area.”

“Oh….” PP’s voice trails off. She doesn’t have the energy for this right now. She’s gonna stand here in the lobby and start crying pretty soon.

“I think I have to just go home,” PP murmurs, leaning against the wall as sweat- clothed patrons pass by laughing, jostling. They're happy. They don't need a pool.
“Sure, whatever you need to do,” DL nods.

But PP decides not to go home. All she'd do there is cry, watch bad t.v.and eat microwaved food. How pathetic would that be? No. She's stronger than the Emergency Pool Closure. She'll show 'em!

And she does. Works out on the torture machines with DL, watches So You Think You Can Dance, fights her own nausea after DL points out a woman barfing.
"Oh no, someone got sick...."
"She barfed?"
DL just nods, stops her treadmill workout, trying not to watch the Barf Woman clean up her mess. But can't help it.
"I think it was a Sports Drink. Lime Green."

PP so wishes she were in the pool. She's never in all the years she's been swimming seen anyone barf in the pool. Not to say that it doesn't happen, but then they'd close the pool and well you all know what happens next.

Later, talking with Sandy while dressing at the lockers, PP finds out a valuable piece of info about the Y Pool Closures:

“You can sign up with your email to get updates about the pool closing. They have a list,” Sandy tells PP.

WHAT? Why the hell hasn’t anyone ever told her this before? Like the two clerks just now couldn’t have mentioned this? Or a note on the “CLOSURE” sign couldn't include this useful tip for future unforeseen closures.

The update list is a Secret?

Shit, what’s the point of that?

PP has been swimming at the Oakland Y for over 3 years. She’s broken down in tears at the front desk over pool closure at least a half a dozen times. Why the hell didn’t anyone ever think to mention the ‘Update List’?

Sandy shakes her head when PP mentions how she’s never known about this. That she'll sign up.

“Yeah, well, we’ll see if they let you know in time,” she shrugs.
“Good point,” PP nods, but it’s worth a try.
“Sure, it’s worth a try.” Sandy agrees, then tells a story of how when she first came to the mainland from Hawaii and had to join a Swimming Club her relatives back in Hawaii couldn’t believe that she was “PAYING” to go swimming.

PP gets this, of course.

“Where was the club?” PP asks.
Sandy smiles, then looks away. Shy? Abashed? “Piedmont. The Piedmont Swim Club.”

PP nods, wonders how much the Piedmont Swim Club charges per month?

Frankly, whatever it is, it’d definitely be worth it.

Cuz PP bets that the Piedmont Swim Club doesn’t close their pool unexpectedly. Or if it does, they call their regular swimmers ahead of time so they don’t make an unnecessary trip to partake of a much needed swim.


PP signs up for the email 'updates' in the Aquatics category. She's dubious that it will work, but maybe she needs to push down that negativity.

Only time will tell.

The next time the pool is closed, will she get an update?

Her Pessimist's Realism says, 'NO'.
And her Swimmer's Intuition says...?

She'll have to get back to you on that!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Psychic Space!

“Hi,” 8:30 Super Swimmer Guy leans down to catch PP at the wall, “Can we circle swim?”

Oh dear! The Dreaded Circle Swim! In the Mayhem Mayhem MAYHEM that is Hilltopia this summer, PP has to just laugh or cry.

She chooses laughter this time, “Sure, we can try! But you’re much faster than I am and I’m much faster than he is and so….” She chuckles. Shrugs.

“That’s fine. We’ll work it out,” 8:30 SSG grins, crouching down to try to stop the Super Slug Guy that PP has been sharing a lane with for the past 20 minutes. He swims a jerky breast stroke, his pudgy legs almost kicking her each time she passes him.

Is this cuz of his swimming style? Or his girth? Or his obliviousness?

Most likely all of the above. And because of all of the above, SSG is gonna make the Dreaded Circle Swim even more dreadfully challenging.
“Excuse me,” 8:30 SSG stops The Slug, “Can you circle swim?”
The Slug peers up at him through foggy blue goggles. If PP could see his eyes, which she can’t, she knows they’d be showing what? Astonished Disbelief? Indignant Imposition? Complete Ignorance?

Yet from his response, he does understand the request. “I’m just gonna stay in my own lane (Something he hasn’t been doing since his herky jerky Breast Stroke takes up 3/4's of the lane) "and you two can share the other half.”

8:30 SSG shakes his head, “No, that’s not going to work. We can’t split the other side with the two of us. Don’t worry; I’ll just go around you.”
The Slug shakes his head, vehement. “NO.” (He’s saying no? To circle swimming with all the crowds? While part of PP admires his bravado, she wonders planet he's from. The planet of empty pools? She wants to fly there!)

8:30 SSG tries again, “We need to circle swim.” He points to the sign and the diagram at the far end of the pool, that no one can see anyway, esp. The Slug. “It’s the rules.”

“No, I can’t do that,” The Slug insists, adamant, and takes off down the middle of the lane.
PP looks up at 8:30 SSG in laughing disbelief. “I don’t think he’s a Regular,” she says.
Shaking his head, 8:30 guys stands up and starts doing his windmill arms in prep for entry. He’s gonna swim around The Slug anyway. This is gonna be good, PP thinks.

“I can put another lane in,” The Harried Lifeguard comes over, seeing or sensing the altercation. PP’s surprised that she’s noticed what with 60 billion families braining each other with noodles in the other half of the pool.

Relieved, 8:30 SSG steps over to claim the new lane. PP takes off trying to share with The Slug, almost done with her swim, but just a little sorry that the Circle Swim didn’t happen-- if you can believe that.

But yet, 8:30 SSG’s lane fills up too after a few minutes. 3 swimmers circling, and true to his word, 8:30 SSG just whizzes past them.

“You’re a FISH!” The Slug exclaims to her as she climbs up on the deck, making her like him a little more. She wants to counter with “You’re a Slug!” but thinks better of it.

Catching 8:30 SSG’s eye at the wall, she motions to her now empty half of the lane, “You want my lane?” she offers, grinning.
Shaking his head, 8:30 SSG declines, “Thanks, but I don’t think so.” He nods toward the Slug floating down the middle of the lane, “He seems to be swimming down the middle of the lane. I think I’ll stay here.”
“Yeah, he takes up a Lot of Space!” PP laughs.
“Psychic Space!” 8:30 SSG chuckles, before zooming off in a mighty whirl.

Friday, July 09, 2010

The Eyebrows Have It!

“You’re gonna think I’m completely superficial, but I’m gonna say it anyway.” Sandy saunters past PP's spacey frantic dressing after swimming before 10 pm.
“That’s ok,” PP calls after her, “I like superficial.”

“Great. You know the Real Bianca? (For those of you out of the loop, Eden Riegel, who played Bianca Montgomery Hot Lesbian Extraordinaire on All My Children has left the show and been replaced with a ‘weak’ Bianca.)

Now, PP nods, eager to hear what Sandy has to say.
“It was her Eyebrows. You know? Those Eyebrows. You couldn’t help but be drawn in.”

“That’s it exactly!” PP agrees, remembering the sexy dark serious brows of The Real Bianca. How when she was playing her Moral Center Role and lecturing about ‘how so and so really knew better than to sleep with so and so’ and with any other actress, the moralizing woulda come off as cliché cuz of course, it was. But with the Real Bianca, her eyebrows let you know that what she was saying was sincere, important and deep. She was NOT superficial!

PP glances over at DL, who’s sitting next to her, humming her little tune, but at the same time listening to the Bianca Analysis intently. PP glances over at her, nods toward Sandy; DL nods back. “That’s it exactly, isn’t it?” whispers PP. “The Eyebrows!”

“Oh yeah!”
“What an insight!” PP exclaims. “Sandy’s just like you—being able to pick out the one physical characteristic that says it all. Like when you said that Ryan’s eyes were too far apart, or David’s neck was too short, or Angie’s hair was wrong (Well, most of us woulda gotten that one.)

DL nods, lost back in her humming reverie.

Sandy’s deep into the lotion portion of her dressing. Is talking about the Claremont Pool. A Pool, regrettably and unbelievably, PP has only heard tell of and never swam in. Now she can’t.

The dreaded sun. Sandy guesses this. She’s not superficial at all really, but gets the sensitive stuff, at least when it has to do with pools and swimming and women. “Yeah, my skin can’t take the sun anymore either,” she commiserates. “I gob lots of sunscreen SPF 85 and wear my rash guard and still, when I get out of the pool, my skin is screaming for moisture. I’m just at that age where it’s not a good idea to be swimming outside anymore. Just can’t do it anymore. So unfortunately, I had to say no to the membership at the Claremont.”

A membership at the Claremont? Shit. PP would dare the sun for that. This pool is supposed to be to die for. Of course, maybe Sandy’s right, and she doesn’t want to die from the sun demons.

Yet, there’s still a part of PP that misses swimming outdoors so much. Esp. when the indoor pool at the Y is complete and total mayhem circle swimming hell!

Call her superficial, but PP still likes the way a tan looks, even though she knows its hazards.

“You ladies have a good night,” Sandy calls out as PP and DL pack up and head out.
“Thanks, you too,” they answer.
DL raises an Eyebrow at PP as they head out of the locker room.

Better than the Real Bianca, that DL is! And definitely NOT Superficial!

Friday, July 02, 2010


“Lordy it’s crazy out there in that Pool!” Gargantuan Splitting Out of Her Suit women sighs loudly, shaking her head.

PP tries not to turn and run the other way. She’s at Hilltopia, in the sauna, and had already taken a gander at the pool. It was pure kidtopia mayhem.

“And only one lifeguard,” Another Woman comments. PP can’t see her in the dark. But it doesn’t matter. The dialogue will speak for itself.

“It’s so cloudy in the pool. I don’t know how the lifeguard sees anything!” Gargantuan Woman observes.
“Yes. I am very concern about this.” A Timid Accented Woman pipes in.
“Why’s that?” GW asks.
“I need to find out the….” She hesitates, searching for a word. PP isn’t sure where TAW's from since she’s terrible at accents and identifying their origin. Maybe this woman is Eastern European? Russian? Who cares, she has something to say.

Timid Accented Woman wraps her arms around herself, hugging herself to demonstrate what she’s trying to say. PP is confused. How do you say ‘hug yourself’?

“…..I need to find the rule that tell about the….flirting?” she ventures.
“I don’t think there are any rules about flirting,” GW answers.
“Maybe….I …..” TAW pauses again, “….it is when ….I don’t want my daughter to see.”
“What exactly don’t you want your daughter to see?” PP cuts in, impatient for the story.
“The man and the woman. They were in the pool and they were….I don’t want my daughter to see.”
“How old is your daughter?” PP asks.
“7 and half.”
“And what exactly were they doing?” PP presses.
TAW wraps her arms around herself again, “I think it was the ….flirting? I think they were…..” She pauses again, embarrassed, “I hope that there was no discharge. I don’t want my daughter to see that.”

No discharge? Did she just say that? She can’t find the word for sex but she can for discharge?

The wonders of ESL. Gotta love it.

“You mean they was foolin around in the pool? With the kids there?” GW snorts.
“I think so,” TAW nods. “I need to see if there is a rule that doesn’t allow that flirting.”
“It’s more than flirting,” PP interrupts. “And yes, absolutely, they should NOT be having sex in the pool.”

PP feels like such an old fuddy duddy saying this. But on the other hand, it’s completely gross! Semen in the pool? Yucky!

She just doesn’t even want to think about this. Unless the couple was attractive. But this seems unlikely. PP has seen very few ‘attractive’ couples in the Hilltopia Y pool. Not to say that there aren’t any. But just not to PP’s aesthetic which is completely superficial.

“The lifeguard seen it?” GW asks.
“I’m not sure,” TAW answers. “I think probably so.”
“Yeah, you can see everything from above,” Someone Else observes.

PP wonders if this is true. Theoretically it could be. But the lifeguards at Hilltopia seem more detached and spaced out than any she’s seen. They either stare into space or text on their phones.

Evidently, they’re missing out on the show.

“I wonder I should report this?” TAW asks. “I have no evidence.”
"You don’t need no evidence!" GW cries.
“But it’s just my word against theirs."
“That don’t matter. They need to know. You tell them up front. You let them know. Then they’ll tell the lifeguard. They need to be trained."
“Yeah, they’re all very young. They’re embarrassed to say anything,”PP adds.
“Yes, but if they have the training then they will," GW continues, incensed.

Yet, PP wonders if this is true. If she were a lifeguard and had to tell some couple to stop 'flirting' in the pool, would she?

Well, she thinks you all know the answer to that!

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...