Monday, December 20, 2010


“SHIT!!!!” PP hears the curse, and then a giant THUD.
PP knows who the Curser is—Scraping Walker Woman. And the THUD must be her flailing and knocking something or falling and hurting something.

PP had made a resolution not long ago not to ask SSW if she needed ‘help.’ She can’t remember the details now of why she’d made this promise to herself. It musta had something to do with being made to feel stupid asking SSW if she needed help.
And so, today, her first impulse is to just ignore the curse and obvious (from the sound of it) injury. But yet….What if she really had hurt herself? And was lying over on the cold cement floor, 20 feet from PP, hidden by two rows of lockers, writhing in agony? Or passed out? Or bleeding to death? Or…..


PP pulls on her black pants and marches over to SSW’s domain.
She’s there, as PP had pictured, crumpled in a heap on the floor, struggling with putting on her own pants.

“Are you okay?” PP has to ask now. She’s there.
SSW turns, totters on the floor, manages a grimace in PP’s direction. “Yes, yes, I’m fine!”
“Okay, just checking. I heard you….”
“Oh that!” SSW chuckles. “I was just thinking about this Christmas card that my sister-in-law sent me and it had all this religious junk on it….you know Mary and the Baby Jesus and……”

She harrumphs. “My brother is not particularly religious, so I don’t think it was his idea to send the card, and then I started thinking that I shouldn’t be having this reaction to the Baby Jesus and Mary. That I’m a Bad Person. But then I thought, 'No, I am not a Bad Person.' What do you think? Oh I’m so sorry if I’ve offended you. You might be religious and….”

PP laughs as she heads over to the counter to start brushing out the tangles. “No you haven’t offended me.”

“Oh, that’s good. That’s a relief. Because some people you know would be offended and I wouldn’t want to offend them and this damn mark on my face I fell on the carpet the other day. Can you believe that falling on the carpet would do this?”

PP had noticed the large dramatic purplish reddish blotch on SSW’s face when she’d been in the pool and SSW had been doing her herky jerky water walking. It looks bad, but PP doesn’t say this now. Not wanting to offend SSW. Though frankly she thinks that offending her would be pretty hard.

“And when I fell, oh I was so mad.” SSW rarely waits for PP (or anyone else for that matter) to answer. “But Sam was home and just put some Vaseline on it and that reminded me how my father he was a physician and one time I think it was around the holidays actually I scalded myself something awful I don’t know how, but my father who was a physician, he just put some Vaseline on it and I remember I was little maybe only 7 or 8, and that it was very soothing. So when my husband did the same thing with this,” She points at the wound, shaking her head, disgusted, “well it was very soothing.”

“Yes, those old fashioned remedies are often the best,” PP agrees, trying to think of a way to get her to stop her Vaseline Monologue so she could turn on the hairdryer without being rude.

“….the other day I ran into a friend of mine who knew me before the surgery and he told me that I should have one of those little electric chairs and then I could just zoom around so much more better. And it made me so mad. That he would say that. The doctor who did the surgery, he said that I was healing just fine. That I should just keep doing what I’m doing. That it’d take time. But that Dan, this friend of mine or really he’s not someone that really knows me anymore. Obviously. He just made me so mad….”

PP finally just turns on the hairdryer. She had been actually encouraging the Anti- Jesus Story and as she was doing it, she knew that it was going to digress into something that she didn’t want to encourage and also that she wouldn’t be able to stop SSW cuz once she started in talking, she didn’t stop.

And even as PP begins drying her hair, she can still hear that SSW is talking. She just can’t make out the words anymore.

Does it matter? Does SSW find offense with PP’s Dryer Noise Deterrent?
She doesn’t seem to. The only thing that really seems to set her off is any mention of her differently-abled situation. Whether it was an offer of help or a suggestion of easier transport.


PP can hear this through the dryer noise and this time she just smiles. Thinks of Mary and the Baby Jesus, and starts to hum Away in the Manger, the image of Mary holding the Lord Our Saviour and the Three Kings of Orient Are vivid in her mind's eye as SSW's muffled drone goes on and on and on.....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Found Suit, Lost Time

“We’ve ______ you!” Hemophiliac Swimmer, Floyd, beams over at PP, stopped at the wall to adjust her mask.
“What?” She could take her ear plugs out, but then they’ll leak and….
“We MISSED you!”
“Oh, yeah, thanks. I usually swim up at Hilltop, but today….”

It was really too much to go into the explanation of why she was there at the Oakland Y on a Saturday afternoon instead of the more convenient Hilltopia. She’d lost her swimsuit. Horror of horrors. Wrapped up in a towel on Wed. There had been a Disruption of Ritual (DOR) by DL—-she’d had to show PP a lock---it was ‘cornflower blue’. Very pretty, but in the distraction of the pretty blue lock, PP had left her suit wrapped in the towel. Had tossed it into the dirty towel bin and left.

Needless to say, when she arrived home 30 minutes later the nervous breakdown was inevitable and full-blown. To lose a swimsuit is the worst! Esp. at Christmas when a trip to Ross would be from hell.

So on this Sat., she’d come to find the suit. And she had. Or rather a very nice Y Woman had donned rubber gloves, dug through two trashcans of ‘lost’ crap, and voila! there it was at the bottom of the second can.

She didn’t need to tell Floyd all of this obviously. So she just nodded, made an inane comment about how he was still swimming.
“I’m retired. I can come every day.”
“Can’t wait!” she’d joked, then taken off down the lane.

He waited for her, stopped her before turning, admonishing, shaking his finger at her, “It’ll come soon enough. Don’t wish the time away.”
“Oh, sure,” she’d agreed, “of course.”

And as she swam back down the lane, she had to think that he was so right. The time just swam by so fast. Before she knew it, she’d be 80 years old, swimming in her own lane cause of some special swim malady.

As long as she kept swimming, that is!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Hard Headed, Soft Bottomed

“Oohh, that’s hot!” Dyed Blond Ringlet Woman dips her big toe into the hot tub. PP laughs, nods, agreeing. She’s still sitting on the edge of the tub, unusual for her. Rarely does she not just plunge into the soothing heated water to counter the pool’s cool temp.

Yet this evening, the pool had been perfect. Warm and empty. PP had had the end lane where the stupid families usually frolic. This lane is the warmest since it has tiny heaters lining the wall.

She swims as close as she can to these without running into the wall.

So, when DBRW cries out over the hot tub temp, PP agrees. It is hot and maybe it seems this way since the pool hadn’t been too cold.

Glancing at the temp, DBRW grins, then shakes her curls, “106! No wonder!”
“That is toasty,” PP slips in now, the heat delicious.
“It’s empty. That’s why the temperature is so hot. The more people that are in the tub, the more the temperature goes down.”
PP’s puzzled by this. Wouldn’t it be just the opposite? The more people in the tub, the more they heat it up?
“How’s that?” she asks, curious.
“Our body temperature, it’s 98 point something, and so when lots of people get in their body temperatures bring the total temperature down.”

She glances over at PP. “I don’t think you and me are gonna bring the temperature down just the two of us.” She chuckles as she inches into the water, her round brown belly half way covered by the swirling bubbles.
“I never thought of it that way,” PP nods. “I guess that does make sense.”
But does it? PP is skeptical yet decides not to voice this. It’s too good of a story the way it is.

DL arrives, perches on the edge of the tub, grinning at the already started Aquatopia Dialogue. When DBRW explains her water temp theory to DL, DL just nods. It makes sense to her. But she’s a poet. Everything makes some kind of sense in a metaphorical way, right?

“My daughter, she is good at math!" DBRW starts the topic out of nowhere. Apropos of much of the dialogue at the Oakland Y. "Don’t let no one tell you that girls ain’t good at math. They are. And I tell her, you use your algebra. You go to the store, you see a can of peas for 30% off, and you figure it out using your algebra.”
PP’s not sure that algebra is the exact math used; but then again, math isn’t her forte.

Because she’s a girl?

No, because it’s stupid.

“And when I tell my daughter this, she just stands there, hands on hip and refuses to listen to me. She thinks she knows it all. And the kids. They are smarter than they used to be. I look around and see that how are all these kids being born smarter and smarter?”

“It’s the math?” PP ventures.
She laughs, “Exactly!” Not missing a beat. “And my daughter, because she is so smart and she knows it all, when I tell her the opposite she just shakes her head. Tells me, No, it ain’t so. She’s so Hard Headed that girl is.”
She laughs. They all do.

“And I know that she get it from me. Why when I was growing up, everyone would say, “'Nadine,' that’s me 'you are so hard headed!' But I’m not so hard headed anymore. No. But I am soft bottomed!” She laughs, they all do.

“And I don’t have to do a thing. It just gets softer and softer and softer!”

She grins, shakes her head, sighs deeply, thinking of the softness.

DL and PP crack up, their soft bottoms growing too.