Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Like a Mermaid….




It was unexpected Bliss. For 20 minutes and then…..

PP had fully braced herself for total mayhem at Hilltopia. Tuesday nights seemed to draw flailing families like moths to a burning building.

But yet, when she arrived. Miracle of miracles! An open lane!

Would wonders never cease?

Delighted, she plunged in, washing away the 111 degree heat from her day in Unpleasant Hell.

Yet, it was not to last. 3 lanes were designated for lap swimmers when she arrived, then two. Then one was taken away by the Big Boss, noting the piling up of families squashed together in ¼ of the pool did indeed present some sort of hazard--like maybe no one could tell if a small child were being trampled on till it was too late?

So she shared a lane now. With Bulky Swimmer Chick. Who knew what she was about. It was fine. Until turning at the wall, PP spied a slow moving Asian woman swimming directly toward her from the opposite end of the pool. No clue about communicating she was joining the lane; therefore, the concept of circle swimming?

Forget it.

PP glanced over at the lane next to her. For a few minutes it’d been a father and his son, not swimming laps in the lap swimming lane.

What the hell was up with that?

PP decided that such use of a lap lane in the crowded mayhem was unacceptable. Hailing the Bored Blondie Lifeguard, PP asked if she could swim in the father/son lane. BBL explained something to PP. PP couldn't understand cuz of her earplugs. But got the idea that it was okay for her to swim with the father/son. They’ll split the lane with her.

Diving under the lane line, PP wondered why this kid/father were being allowed to do what they’re doin in the lap lane instead of the mayhem pandemonium of the family swim side. Did the kid hate the noise? Did he have fear of crowds?

Both of these PP understood, but at the same time she thought, ‘If you can’t stand the heat, get outta the frying pan!" In other words, if the kid couldn’t handle the pandemonium, then why was he here at all? Why was he getting special treatment?

Yet as PP passed them, she noticed that something was off. The kid was larger, puffy, flopping. The 'wrongness' was subtle, but still there was something up.

Yet, being the privileged lap swimmer that she was, PP just didn’t get why they were being allowed in the lap lane.

Until stopping at the wall, the father grinned over at her, inviting questioning.
“Is your son afraid of the noise?” PP asked.
He smiled bigger. Shook his head. Muttered something in Spanish.

Shit. Here is yet another instance where PP really wishes she knew Spanish. It’s so stupid to grow up in California and not even know enough Spanish to have a conversation about swimming.

Which is all she’d want to use the language for to be honest.

The father stared at PP, smiling still, then used a practiced phrase of English that he must have to say all the time, “My son, he is Autistic.”





Oh…duh! PP felt so goddamn stupid now. Why the hell didn’t this occur to her? And autistic kids, while she knew little about the condition, were most certainly unable to deal with the general mayhem of all the flailing families in the other half of the pool.

“Today…” the father continued, “it is so hot.”

PP nodded, “Oh, yeah, it was! And I’m sure your son wanted to swim to cool off, right?”
Too much language for the father, but he got the idea. PP had communicated that she was okay with the kid sharing the lane now.

So all was well and PP finished the last of her swim while the father guided Autistic Son along the second half of the lane.

Now PP could see that the kid was acting 'autistic'? His tongue hung out, sometimes licking the water. The father had to pull him up abruptly to discourage this probably involuntarily behavior. The kid had no clue that he was to stay on one side of the lane so PP could swim on the other half. The father had to constantly pull him out of her way. Usually in time, but she did have to stop a few times to avoid a collision.

Of course, normally, this woulda pissed her off. To stop. But hell, the kid was autistic, the day had been hot and besides PP was expecting mayhem anyway.

She still got a swim in. Which is all that mattered.

As she got ready to get out, the father had handed over the son to mom. She was in the lane now, pulling the kid along while the father sat on the deck grinning at PP.
Quick Spanish between the two. “He want to know,” the mother translated, “You swim one hour?”
Laughing, PP shook her head, “Nah, 45 minutes.”
Translating again. “And he want to know, you swim every day?”
“No…no…just 3 or 4 times a week.”
PP heard ‘Tres, Quattro…” and got this. She had learned how to count to 10 in Spanish in Jr. High.
“Yes, Tres, Quattro” PP repeated, grinning at her stupid Spanish abilities.
More back and forth between the two and then the mother beamed over at PP, “He say, you swim like a Mermaid!”




The father nodded, eyeing PP appreciatively.
“Thanks,” PP grinned, genuinely flattered even though she's heard this before. It’s not a new bit of praise. But it delighted her even more tonight. Because of the language? Because of the Autism? Because of the heat?

She just wished, afterward, that she’d found out the word for “Mermaid” in Spanish.

It’d be a nice addition to her ability to count from 1 to 10, don’t you agree?

2 comments:

Sal said...

This was so lovely. I could hear your voice and picture the whole exchange with the man and his son with autism-really beautiful, even though the humor shines through it all. Wish you had this syndicated in a swimming or women's magazine. It would be a huge hit!

Ian said...

Well I had to find out. Sirena. Pool Puss is - una Sirena. Also a nadador, of course. Perhaps even -Una Sirenita nadador gatito? (A little mermaid swimmer kitten?) No wonder she gets attention from all sorts of directions.

And thanks, Sal, for your comment. Perhaps someone who reads this blog can find an appropriate puplication (or link) to give our much admired PP the attention and recognition (and big bucks) she deserves.