Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Cost of Color

"Here we are losing jobs and they're paying 4000 dollars a day on orange lights around the rotunda!"

PP glances down at DL lying dazed on the utopia shelf below her. DL’s a Giant’s Fan. Yes, with capital letters.

What’s more important?

PP isn’t gonna venture into this territory. But she will do her usual prompts to keep the ‘ball’ rolling.
”You meant the top of the city capital building?” PP isn’t quite sure what a rotunda is. It’s late; she’s already done her swim, and now Utopia. None of this helps her recall of architectural structures.
“Yes, that’s right,” Sandy nods. “I mean, okay, I have nothing against Lesbians but why do they have to light it up pink?”
Does DL shift slightly? Again, PP isn’t gonna drag her into the dialogue, at least not yet.
“Why pink?” PP asks.
“That’s a good question,” Sandy says.
“It’s because of the Nazis,” DL helps now. “They used pink triangles to identify gays and lesbians during the War.”

“Really?” PP asks, not ever having heard this before. Not that Nazi history is a particular interest of hers. In fact, she hates Nazi stuff. But doesn’t everybody?

Well, no, some people are fascinated by it. Why PP knows of one person who….oh but she transgresses. Back to Utopia.
“Yes, it was a Witch Hunt,” DL says solemnly.
“Oh,” PP pauses, “yes, I knew that.”
“I didn’t realize,” Sandy says.
“Yeah, I never knew that pink symbolized anything other than that pretty girlie girl thing.”
Sandy nods, “Yes, and boys are blue. Starting at birth.” She rises and slowly makes her way out of the sauna. "The things one learns in the sauna" she sighs. “Good night ladies,” and waves at them before opening the door and letting herself out.
“I’m hot,” DL says. “I gotta get outta here.”

PP nods, thinking that she’s gotta get out of here too. All those colors are making her queasy.

Orange for Baseball.
Pink for Lesbians.
Blue for Boys.

Green for solar.
Purple for Barney.
Red for Passion.

Wait, that last one isn’t a thing. It’s an idea.

But then isn’t the pink for Lesbians also an idea?

Of course it is.

And it’s worth much more that $4000 a night…..

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Is It Real? (Part II)

“You need to get out of here NOW!” Sexy Latina Clerk was having none of PP’s usual dilly dallying round getting dressed.

Not like PP was. Dilly dallying that is. With the shrieking HONK HONK HONK of the fire alarm and her (imagined?) smelling of smoke out at the pool, she was going as fast as she could.

But as any swimmer knows, there’s a LOT of stuff involved. The peeling off the suit (No, she didn’t even consider taking a shower –duh), drying off, putting clothes on. Collecting the cap, ear plugs, mask, water bottle, etc.

“Just wrap a towel around you!” SLC hollers over the alarm as she runs up and down the aisles of the locker room, making sure everyone is out.

Yeah, right, like PP is just gonna wrap a towel around herself, soaking wet, and run upstairs and stand naked (under the towel) in the freezing cold night fog of the Hilltopia parking lot.

Fire or no fire, she was gonna at least put her clothes on first.

And she did, skipping most of the drying off, and tossing her junk into her swim bag, wondering (for only a moment) if she’d lost her earplugs.

No one else was in the locker room. The frantic mom and kid had evacuated minutes before. While PP was impressed with her own 3 minute quick change, it was nothing compared to the panicked mom rescuing her child.

And so, out PP goes, up the stairs, into the night where a little crowd of YMCA’ers are hanging around, chatting, bouncing basket balls, shuffling aimlessly.
A couple of the clerks come out with piles of towels, “Does anyone need a towel?” PP stood for a moment, surveying the scene. The crowd was decidedly unpanicked.

It certainly didn’t appear that the facility was burning down. On the other hand, even if it weren’t, how long would it take for them to figure it out? By the time they did, it’d be 9:30 and she’d have no time to swim cause the pool would be closed.

Or even if they did figure it out in time enough for her to swim, she’d still have to wait out here in the freezing cold with wet hair and damp clothes on for who knows how long.

Two fire engines come roaring into the parking lot, lights flashing, sirens screaming, firemen jumping out.


PP wasn’t gonna wait. Sure she was curious if the place was really on fire, but…..

She would surely get a shooting pain earache if she stood out in the cold wind with her wet head much longer.

And so, she stalked off to the Geo, followed by a few other workout quitters.

Maybe some might think a fire was the perfect excuse to get out of working out?

Perhaps. For PP, as any of you can guess, the entire episode was beyond crankiness.

She almost hoped the place did burn down.

Except then she’d never see David Cassidy’s smiling face anymore.
Or Autistic Dad’s friendly wave.
Or Swedish Accent Woman’s spastic backstroke.

Okay, she could live without the last one, but you get the drift.

Pulling out of the parking lot, she heads out Lakeside Dr, and then turns up the hill, just as another fire engine comes roaring down toward the Y.

Maybe it really was on fire?

Nah, she couldn’t believe this. But yet…. The evidence was compelling. The alarm. The smoke. (Well, maybe) The evacuation. The fire engines.

Honestly, she’d never been part of such a real fire alarm production.

It woulda been kinda thrilling if she hadn’t missed her swim.

Maybe it was thrilling anyway?

No. Definitely not, as she got on the wretched dark frwy and headed back home, fighting back the teary disorientation that was starting to take over from an interrupted swim.


“Hilltop YMCA. This is Marina speaking. How can I help you?”
“I’m just calling to make sure the place didn’t burn down last night. Obviously, since you answered, it’s still standing.”
Mariana laughs nervously. “Oh, yeah, I heard about that. No, the place didn’t burn down. We’re still here.”
“So what happened? Why did the alarm go off?”
“Some kid pulled it.”

PP shook her head into the phone. Duh. She knew this, but how could she have argued this last night amid all the pandemonium? “That’s what I figured,” she says now.

“Yes, well, we’re gonna send out a survey to see if we can find out who did it.”
PP laughs. Yeah, right, like some kid is gonna confess to his/her parents? Or even if the kid did confess, the parents would report their kid?

What would be the consequences? Would the kid be banned from the YMCA for life? Would the parents have to foot the bill for the Richmond Fire Department’s two responding engines? Would PP get the privilege of drowning the little monster?

It was a stupid idea.
But somehow so YMCA.

“Okay, well, thanks,” PP says now, “I can swim today.”
“Yes, the pool is open. Thanks for calling the Hilltop YMCA."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It is Real?

~Part I~

It was a swimmer’s dream. The pool was absolutely empty with the exception of one quiet (very unusual) family floating about in the rec lanes.

No one was swimming laps. The water was smooth and inviting. PP couldn’t believe her good luck. This never happens, well almost never.

David Cassidy Lifeguard gave her his hearty excited wave as he invited her to partake of the empty pool. PP felt almost giddy. Friday night after a long week; the pool was going to be perfect.

She slipped into the silky smoothness and began her gliding stroke.


Her mask started to leak! Damn! So cranky! And she’d just bought it. Brand new and it leaked? Yet, she could manage this. Stopping at the wall every few laps and dumping the excess water out. It was a pain, but still, the pool was all hers and this is what really mattered!


The noise was deafening.
What the hell was going on?
She stopped mid lap and looked over at David. He was in a flurry of activity. Trying to get the family out of the pool.

“YOU HAVE TO GET OUT!” he hollered over the noise.
“What?” PP continued to stand, mid lane. Did he really say she had to get out? Without finishing her swim? Why she’d only been in 10 minutes. Only done maybe three or four hundred yards.

She couldn’t get out.
“It’s the fire alarm."
“You’re kidding?”
He shook his head as PP swam over to the edge and clambered out, wet, cold, mad and puzzled.
The fire alarm? He was making her stop swimming over a stupid fire alarm?
Since when does anyone pay attention to a fire alarm?

PP has been teaching for so many years, and sure every quarter or so, the alarm will go off.

Does anyone pay attention, let alone evacuate the premises?

She remembers recently reading in her office when an alarm went off. It was obnoxiously persistent, so she wandered out into the hallway. No one was around. She moseyed over to the librarian to ask, “What’s that noise?”
“Sounds like a fire alarm,” he told her.
“That’s what I thought…..” She paused. “Shouldn’t we see if there’s a fire?”
He laughed. “I don’t think there’s a fire, but if it would make you feel better I’ll go check it out.”
And he did, PP following behind him down the long hall, down the stairs, till the culprit noise was located behind a locked door.
“Yup, here it is. I’ll get someone to unlock the door and turn it off.”
“So it just went off because….”? she ventured.
He laughed. “They go off sometimes. Don’t know why. But nothing to worry about.”

And so, this night at Hilltopia when the alarm went off, PP was just gonna ignore it. But David Cassidy wouldn’t have it. She had to get out of the pool.

What the hell was she gonna do? Was she supposed to evacuate into the dark cold Richmond night till the fire dept arrived?
“Where do I go?” she asked David.
He ran to ask his boss, who must have communicated the obvious fact that the building needed to be completely evacuated.
“Grab your stuff and get outside,” David hollered at her over the deafening noise.
"Do you think there's really a fire?" she asked.
"I hope not," he said, before running back to take care of some important evacuation procedure.

PP shook her head, was this really happening? In all of her many many many years of lap swimming, she’d never been booted from the pool because of a fire alarm.

Yet…..Was that smoke that she smelled?

Shivering, PP hurried into the locker room, shaking her head, but also just a little worried that it might all be real…..

~To be continued~

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Pool Renovation?

“What’s up with the cold air blowing on the far end of the pool?” PP asks the New Cutie Lifeguard after her freezing swim at the Oakland Y.
“Yeah, some other people have complained about that. It’s part of the renovation….”
“It’s part of the Renovation to freeze all the swimmers out of the pool?”
He laughs. “Yeah, it is cold. I was teaching a swim lesson the other day and I definitely felt it.”
“So, are they gonna fix it?”
He shakes his head. “I think they’re working on it.”
PP likes this answer. It works for almost everything doesn’t it? She can’t think what right now. But she’s working on it.

“What is the purpose of this Renovation”? she asks instead of commenting on the working time frame.
“It’s supposed to get rid of the mold on the ceiling.” He grins.
PP laughs. “You’re kidding?”
“I know. They think that if they blow air on the ceiling that it will help.”

“That seems like such a good idea,” PP jokes as Swim in her Shoes woman, who’d been sharing her lane, approaches. “Did you hear what he said about the cold air blowing on us?” PP asks S in HSW.
“No, what did he say?”
“He said it was to get rid of the mold on the ceiling.”
“Oh, yeah, right. Why the hell don’t they just clean it off and then give it a fresh coat of paint?”

Why not indeed?

Later PP tells DL about the Arctic Air blowing on the pool and she just shakes her head and says, “Typical Oakland.”

The next day, PP gets a message in her email alerting her to an EMERGENCY POOL CLOSURE. Oh, how surprising. Something to do with mechanical failure and flooding that caused them to close the pool indefinitely.

Was the Giant Arctic Air Blowing Renovation part of the mechanical malfunction? she wonders.

PP has no idea.

But she's sure they're working on it....

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...