Friday, August 27, 2010

Outlaw Lifeguard Take II!




The Outlaw Lifeguard has a broken nose! What does it mean?

PP asks DL her opinion of course, and DL comes up with the perfect answer: he got in a fight.
And with whom?
Tatiana naturally. She found out that he’d been letting lap swimmers use the water walker lane behind her back and ‘wham’ –he’d got his comeuppance!

PP can just imagine:

Miffed and angry, Tatiana confronts Outlaw Lifeguard: “I know what you’ve been doing behind my back.”
“What?" OL grins, sheepish, slightly belligerent.
“I think you know.”
“No, really, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Don’t play games with me.”





“I’m not playing games. I honestly don’t know what you’re referring to.”
She eyes him, exasperated, “It has to do with the water walking lane.”
He tries to withhold a smirk. “The water walking lane? What about it?”
She sighs deeply, trying to keep her cool, but it’s hard. He’s such a smart ass. “Do I have to spell it out for you?”




“I wish you would,” he taunts.

She tries to keep from screaming, “You’ve been letting the lap swimmers SWIM in the Water Walking Lane when the rules expressly prohibit it! I told you! No swimmers in the Water Walkers Lane. Is that so hard to understand? All I’m trying to do here is follow the rules and you go behind my back! You allow certain swimmers to use the lane that is ONLY for the water walkers.”

“Certain swimmers?” He grins, “I have no idea who you mean.”
“You know exactly who I mean. I told her too that she couldn’t swim there and then I leave!..... but before I go.....I...." Tatiana pauses, trying to control herself, but it's all too much. "...I look out the window from upstairs and there SHE is, swimming in the water walkers lane! It’s against the RULES! I told her that! And I told you that!”
He shakes his head, chuckles softly, “Hell, I don’t get why she can’t swim there. It’s just an empty lane to me.”
“JUST AN EMPTY LANE!!!!” she cries.

BAM!




Tatiana lets him have it. OL reels from her blow, clutching at his face, “Oww….” as his nose starts to bleed. “I can’t believe you just did that.”
“Believe it, Buster! I’d take care of that now, if I was you,” she says, turning away, shaken, but pleased.

He grins. Slowly. She’s a feisty one, he thinks to himself. I like that.

Then wiping the blood on his sleeve, he smiles to himself, before heading into the locker room to clean up.

Will he obey T’s punch? Or will he continue to follow his outlaw tendencies?

Stay tuned for more developments.

Same swim time.
Same swim channel
Same Feisty Russian.
Same Smart Ass Outlaw?

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?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Outlaw Lifeguard




“Can I swim in That Lane?” PP nods toward the empty (and previously forbidden to lap swimmers—see last blog entry) water walkers lane, grinning expectantly. Stringy Grey Haired Spaz Man had just jumped into her lane and she was drowning.

Tatiana smiles, shakes her head emphatically. “Oh, no, no, NO,” she repeats three times. “I can’t let you do that.”

PP knows she knows that PP knows that no lap swimmers are allowed in the Water Walkers Lane. But PP was gonna give it a go anyway.

“But I got to last week!” PP cries, as SGHSM turns at the wall and sprays her mightily.
Tatiana continues to shake her head, “Maybe if you guys were circle swimming, I’d be okay with it, but nah, not now.”
PP shrugs. So, the rule was only in place unless there was circle swimming? This was the point of subversion? PP decides not to pursue it though. She actually likes T. She’s cute and smart and pays attention. Something that most of the lifeguards here at the Oakland YMCA don’t do.

Except for the Cute and Smarter New Lifeguard that let PP swim in the WWL last week. He’s watching the whole scene unfold with Tatiana; PP feels this. Should she call him into the fray?

Nah, it’s not worth it. If Tatiana wants to stick to the ‘rules’ then so be it. It all makes for a funny story anyway.

So resigned, PP tries to swim. But now Splasher Flipper Man gets in on her other side and all of a sudden she’s experiencing every swimmer’s nightmare—Splash Sandwich. Damn! And with that Empty Lane beckoning her.





Yet PP presses on. What can she do? Though it seems so very very very stupid stupid stupid. There’s an empty lane. No water walkers in sight. (And if one did happen into the lane, of course PP would move).

But yet, tonight, unlike last week, PP can’t swim there because of the Tatiana and the “Rules.”

Turning at the wall, PP catches out of the corner of her eye, Tatiana now dressed in street clothes. Black trousers, black shirt—she’s off!

And as soon as she’s gone…..

Cute and Smarter Lifeguard heads over to PP’s lane, catches her at the wall, squats down and grins, “You can swim over there now.”
“Really?” PP is beyond delight. Not only does she get to swim in the Water Walking Lane, but she’s part of a subversive lifeguard/swimmer cohort.
“But she said I couldn’t. That it’d be breaking the rules.”
He shakes his head, grins broadly. “Yeah.”
“Do you know why it’s a rule anyway?”
“Nah,” he pauses, considering. “To me it’s just an empty lane. You’d hafta ask my boss.”





“And now she’s gone!” PP grins.
“Yeah,” he laughs, rising. “Besides,” he nods toward SGHM, “he’s a little erratic.”


A little erratic? Well that’s one way of putting it! Not only is this lifeguard an Outlaw, ignoring the rules by undermining his boss’s authority first chance he gets, but he also has a good vocabulary!

Delighted with it all, PP dives into the forbidden lane. Swims happily in the smooth water, relishing her freedom from the Splash Sandwich even though in the back of her mind she’s worried. What if Tatiana comes back and finds her breaking the rules? Would she turn in Outlaw Lifeguard? Blame him for her blatant disregard for Tatiana's authority and the Y's 'rules'?

Of course not.

PP would just shrug. Tell Tatiana that it was all her idea. That she was just testing the waters.

Oh, the thrill of it all.

Breaking the rules at the Y never felt so invigorating. PP hasn't done this in awhile. Such wildness! Such abandon! Such daring!

But hey, all you out there who know Tatiana. You better not tell or else...

PP is gonna sick the Outlaw Lifeguard on you!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

3 stories in 1!

I.

Claremont Days






“We may be able to swim in the eye of the storm.”

PP grins, delighted as always, by her best friend from Jr. High (Can you believe it? Jr. High?!). JB, or Banana,who has a knack for what? Trying to make the best out of a conceivably bad swimming situation?

It’s Claremont Days at her pool. This happens just one day a year here in San Diego and of course this is the day that PP and DHBF are visiting. PP doesn’t really believe that it will be the mayhem that Banana is foreseeing. Every time she’s gone to this ‘Claremont Pool’ in the past it’s been nothing but lovely, warm and EMPTY! (Every swimmer’s dream!)

Yet today, according to B, the festivities at Claremont Day may take over the pool. “Though maybe no one will be swimming laps,” B muses.

So they head up the hill in B’s racy little Audi and PP can’t believe what she sees in the field surrounding the pool. Actually she’s never even noticed a field before—but today, it’s packed with merry-go-round, spinning barfing ride, frog will toss you ride, cotton candy booth, and…




But the pool?

B was right. No one was swimming laps. So the eye of the storm was a calm and peaceful swim. The water warm. The sky blue. The fears unfounded.

And so they all swim. B and PP and DHBF, but finish at different times-- B swimming the longest –3000 yards! ‘She’s a real athlete” DHBF observes.
Uh, yeah, PP thinks to herself, wondering where her own athleticism has vanished to.

So when PP and B meet in the locker-room, happy with their eye of the storm swims, they dress and then head out to find DHBF.

He’s nowhere to be found. Not at the car. Not on the pool deck. Not in front of the building.

“I bet he’s at the fair,” PP smiles.
“Yeah, you’re probably right,” B agrees, leading the way to the scary circus like situation.

PP follows with considerable trepidation. She loathes crowds. Her crowdaphobia worsens with each passing year.

But at Claremont Days, there’s a Draw. And DHBF has already found it.





Dancing Girls!
They’re on the portable stage. First tap dancers in hot pink hot pants. Then Bollywood in silks and slippers. Then more tap dancers in turquoise bellbottoms.





It’s hilarious, charming and completely unexpected.

Relief spreading over her, PP’s so glad that they were able to swim in the eye of the storm and then brave the storm of the storm to watch the Dancing Girls.

Who knew that swimming at Claremont Days could be such an entertaining venture?

PP’s pretty sure that Banana knew this.

But just didn’t let on…..

II.

Swimming in the Fast Lane

“You can swim in the Water Walking Lane till a Water Walker comes,” the New Blond Lifeguard at the Oakland Y tells PP when she arrives out on the deck, perplexed and spaced out for her Wed night swim.

WHAT!!!!???? she screams to herself. She can swim laps in the water walking lane? Since when? Has there been a change in policy?

PP can recall many a time when intense altercations occurred from some lap swimmer trespassing into the Water Walkers domain. Stringy Haired Splash Man yelling at two lifeguards, trying to convince them that “There is no Walker here! Why can I no swim here? It is ridiculous.”

But to no avail. He was booted out and banned from the pool and….

Okay, maybe not banned, but he wasn’t allowed to swim laps in the water walking lane.

So tonight, when PP is actually TOLD that she CAN swim in the forbidden lane, she shivers a little in bewildered anticipation. Should she really swim there? But yet....the lifeguard said she could and so…..

WHAT the hell ever. She does! And in she plunges, thrilled at her own lane (no one else can share; there’s a ladder for the walkers blocking the other half)

As she swims, PP revels in her good fortune. But also, isn't the forbidden always more exciting? PP feels all the other swimmers' eyes on her. What is she doing swimming in the water walkers lane? Doesn’t she know that it’s not allowed? She can hear the Group Think.

But yet, nothing happens to her. No admonishments from the lifeguards. No sudden dunking by Stringy Grey Hair Splasher when he sees her.

It’s a fantasy come true!

Plus no water walkers ever appear. PP swims and swims and swims without sharing a lane or circle swimming like everyone else.






She wants to avoid feeling smug, but yet…she does!

After, she wonders, Was it only a one time fluke? Will the same lifeguard be there next Wed and let her swim in the WWL?

Or was it all just a dream?



III.

Stick Legs

DL and PP collapse in Utopia after their respective workouts. PP still on swimmer’s cloud 9 from her privileged water walker swim.

The Africa Women are in heavy gossip mode. Diabetes Woman and her brood. They’re jabbering away, but DW always friendly, wants to include DL and PP.

“You swim?” she asks PP.
“Oh, yes….” PP grins. “Did you?”
”Me?” DW shakes her head. “No. I do machines one hour five day a week. I lose lot of weight! See?”

She pulls at the rolling folds of lose skin round her mid- section. Where’s the weight loss, PP wonders.
“79 pounds!” she exclaims, then lifts a leg up to survey. “But see?” she points at her calf, lean and thin, “Stick Leg. Africa Women. We not like Stick Leg. We like big Butts and….”





Her cohorts burst into loud giggles, slapping their non stick legs and bending over their wide bellies in utter hilarity.

DL laughs too. She’s a good audience for all of the entertainment at Utopia. PP, on the other hand, always has to make some sort of banal comment to keep the conversation rolling.
“Your legs are like that cuz that’s your body shape,” she offers. “Do you know what I mean?”
DW eyes her for a moment, considering. Then nods. “Sure, sure. The Stick Legs, they are my Body. But my butt….”
And again more giggles till DW shrugs as the lights are turned out. “Time to go, I guess,” PP observes.
DW shakes her head, “No. Time to go in Steam Room.”

And PP and DL grin as they watch the stick legs walk out of Utopia and into Steamtopia.

Epilogue

Stick legs--are they the theme? Or is it just legs in general?

Dancers' legs.
Swimmers' legs.
Africa legs.

PP is stuck on the word 'legs'---it looks really funny written out so many times. Just four little letters, but why so funny?

PP thinks it's time to go to lunch. So much leg profundity is making her hungry!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Tears in Utopia




“Hey, you have children?” Hot Tub Mama glances up at the Serene Spacey Woman sitting on the bench above her. Do they know each other? PP wonders. The question seems to come out of the blue, but after all it is HTM, the Queen of non sequiturs.

“One son,” SSW answers, eyes half closed, in deep Utopian rapture.

“How many children?” HTM repeats, demanding. Didn’t she hear SSW’s answer?

SSW opens her eyes. Stares down at HTM calmly, “One SON!” she repeats, a little louder, a little less patience.
“No daughters?” HTM’s heard the one son answer now. But it wasn’t what she was hoping for?
“ONE SON!” This time SSW shakes her head, then grins. “How about you? How many children do you have?”
“5!” HTM exclaims. “2 son. 3 daughter.”
“That’s a lot of children,” SSW observes.
“That’s a lot of problem!” HTM grunts.

All the women in Utopia chuckle. They share in HTM’s attitude.
“You?” HTM turns to PP who’s been sitting next to her, watching the show.
“Me?”
“How many children?”
PP laughs, “Zero.”
HTM raises her shaved eyebrows. “No children?”
“Nope.”
“Why not you have children?”
“I don’t like them. Or…..” PP reconsiders this response. “It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just that I don’t think I could raise them.... be responsible. It’s too much for me. And so, I unlike you, I have NO problems." PP giggles.

HTM doesn't, thinking. “My children. They need me. They use me….” Her voice trails off, quiet.

Sensing something is brewing, PP tries to offer a positive answer even though this goes against her nature. “Well, need is good, right?”
HTM is silent for a moment. Then repeats. “They use me…”
“How?” PP asks, unsure of how to wade into this children using mother territory. Is it a common Ethiopian cultural thing maybe? “Do they ask you to baby-sit their kids? Your grand kids?”

HTM shakes her head. Tears spring into her eyes. Uncontrollably. Gushing down her round brown cheeks. The other women in the sauna all look away, embarrassed. One Son Woman gets up and walks out.





PP doesn’t know what to do. It’s such a surprise. One moment it all seems like a joke. The kids are a problem. The kids are no good. The kids are a headache. Then the next minute. The kids cause copious weeping. In public. In utopia.

PP really wishes that DL were here. To witness if nothing else. But for now, PP just tries to soothe, “Ohhh…. I’m sorry…,” she mutters unhelpfully as the tears continue to pour out, cascading down down down HTM's face. Futilely HTM tries to wipe them away, but they just keep coming. An endless stream.

Damn!

Yet another piece of evidence for PP that kids are a bad idea. They make you cry in Utopia. No one should cry in Utopia!

PP repeats that she’s so sorry. HTM nods, the tears starting to abate, tries for a smile. “It okay.”
“You okay?” PP asks.
“Yes, I’m okay. It’s okay.”

“Okay,” PP nods, heads out of the sauna, embarrassed, helpless. Was it her fault that HTM started to cry? Should she not have pursued the questions around the kids’ using her? What could they be using HTM for that was so horrible? Were they borrowing vast sums of money and not paying it back? Were they invading her home and making her cook and clean and laundry for them while they sat back and watched ESPN? Were they running shady businesses out of HTM’s living room?





What the hell could it be?

PP will never know cuz she sure as hell isn’t gonna ask again.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Later, after her shower, PP passes HTM sitting on the bench chatting amiably with the Serene Science Teacher. Like nothing had happened.

No tears.
No problems.
No kids.

Did PP imagine the whole incident? Were the tears not really there? Was HTM not really there? What was reality? What was fantasy?

What was Utopia?

A place without tears, problems or children.

At least for PP that is.