3 Tales from the Bijou Pool at Tahoe

I: Priorities

PP’s so excited to be back in South Lake Tahoe and headed for the Bijou Pool. Swimming under the pines. Under the bright moon. In her own lane....

Until…..She gets there and whoa!

It’s crowded!

What the hell is up with that? When she’d swam here before it'd been calm and empty. Tonight there’re at least two swimmers in each lap lane and a full group of ‘water aerobics’ women taking up the rest of the pool.

Plus it was freezing!

Of course this is to be expected. After all, she was in the high sierras. But still……how could there be so many swimmers in such cold conditions?

The Tahoe swimmers must be a hardy bunch.

She dives in, sharing a lane with two other women, then one gets out and she’s just splitting a lane with Tattoo Bikini Jockette. She’s not such a great swimmer, kinda crooked and splashy, but hell she looks good and isn’t that at least some of what swimming is about?

Afterwards in the locker room, still freezing after her hot shower (and yes, thankfully it was hot), PP watches as one of the Water Aerobic Women attempts to detangle her hair. “Oh, bother!” she exclaims, chuckling.

“Yeah,” PP grins, “that’s the hard part for me. The tangles.”
“Yes, well…” She sighs, continuing to tug at her wet tresses. “For awhile I colored the grey, but then I decided not to bother.”

PP had been admiring the color. The grays and whites and blacks all streaked together. “It’s wonderful as it is!”

WAW smiles, slowly, then shakes her head, “Well, I decided that really it was more important for me to worry about losing weight before I worried about the color of my hair.”

They both laugh, even though PP always feels a bit self-conscious 'round dieting women, being slim herself. Yet it did seem that the priorities were something WAW had thought about. “I’ve already lost 37 pounds!” she exclaims, beaming.
“That’s great!” PP says. “The water exercise helps, I bet!”
“Oh yes, it does. Though I need to come more often. I try to make it 3 times a week but…..”
“It’s cold!” PP offers.
She frowns. Then shrugs. “Yes, I suppose. Though that’s not what stops me. I just seem to have a hard time getting here is all.”
“I get that!” PP laughs. “Especially if you’re coloring your hair.”
“Remember! I was gonna hold off on that!” she grins, collecting her stuff off the bench and packing it up.
“Have a nice evening,” she calls back to PP as she exits the room.
“Thanks, you too,” PP says, as she heads to the mirror and begins the arduous process of her own detanglement.

II. Sharing

Night two at the Bijou Pool. This night is not as crowded. DHBF has dropped PP off for her swim so he can go to the store for dinner supplies (See why she keeps him around? Chauffeur, Shopper and Chef all wrapped into one handsome package!)

But again, it’s COLD! So PP has to snag a lane lickety-split before she loses her nerve (Actually the water itself is fine, she guesses 'bout 82 degrees, but the air? It’s heading for that low of 34 that’ll it’ll reach later)

One person swims in each of the three lanes. A flopping on his back elderly gent. A speedy bikini woman (What is it with the Tahoe bikinis? PP knows that these racing suits are made but it’s been awhile since she’s seen them—no one at the YMCA dons such attire), and finally, a bald headed guy. (Isn’t his head cold, she wonders)

PP chooses the bikini woman (naturally). “Excuse me, can I share the lane with you?”
BW stares up at PP through her foggy goggles, nods and then smiles. “You can have the lane.” She dives under the lane line to join Bald Swimmer. “We’re together.”

“Really?” PP is astounded. No one ever deserts her lane at the YMCA. Everyone clings to the lane if she’s lucky enough to have scored one to herself. Then don’t look at the person wanting to get in and share. Don’t wait at the wall and ask if they want to join. Let alone offer to hand over the lane.

So, PP is completely happily surprised by such gracious generosity. Is it something to do with the Alpine Air?

Maybe, as she hops into the lane and zooms down it gleefully by herself.
Or maybe it just has to do with the fact that the two of them really are ‘together’.

III By Myself

She’s only about 6? Maybe 7? Tadpoling down the center of the lane on the last night that PP is in Tahoe. Her bright red flowered suit reminiscent of a tropical fish.

Okay, PP thinks. A kid. But this kid seems serious. She’s really swimming laps.

There’s a bunch of kids in the other half of the pool tonight instead of the Water Aerobic Women. But none of them are swimming laps. They’re all just doing the usual kid stuff: screaming, splashing, fighting.

But Red Suit Girl will have none of this. When she stops at the wall, PP asks if she can share her lane. She nods, smiles shyly and then takes off back down the lane doing a mighty underwater breaststroke.

As PP swims, she notices that the kid keeps on going, rarely stopping. But at one point they are both at the wall turning, so PP praises her, “You’re a really good swimmer!”
She beams.
“Are you on a swim team?”
“Me neither,” PP says. “Do you like to swim alone?”
“Yeah,” she nods, her eyes sparkling.
“Me too,” PP grins.

And she watches Swim Alone Kid take off again, reminding PP of herself at that age, swimming back and forth and back and forth for what seemed like hours in the wonderful backyard pool of Hacienda Heights, reveling in the solitary freedom of it.

Which is part of what swimming is all about. Where else can you be immersed in the floating deliciousness of the water, surrounded by only its embrace, even if you're sharing with a fellow lap swimmer or a like-minded kid, and still feel completely and blissfully alone?


PP grins to herself as she plunges after Swim Alone Kid, enjoying the company, the moon, and herself in the beautiful Pool Bijou....


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