Thursday, March 24, 2011


“I think something bit me….” PP muses as she examines the small red bumps on her leg. Holding it up out of the hot tub, she glances over a DL.
“I woke up once and my eye was completely swollen shut. And then there were all of these layers of red scaling folds running down my cheek and……well, I was completely freaked out.”
“What was it?”
“A spider bite.”
“Really? A spider did all of that?”
DL nods, “It was awful.”

“Sounds super scary,” PP agrees. She can’t imagine. If she woke up with her face like that, she’d scream really loud.

That would help.

“You wanna go in Utopia,” DL heaves herself out of the hot tub, heads to the sauna.

“Hey, Sandy,” PP greets.
“Hello, Ladies.”
“DL was just telling me about a horrendous spider bite she got that…. Well, she can tell you.”
DL does. Sandy, of course, is all ears and questions. “Did they find out what kind of spider it was? You were asleep in bed when it happened? Why didn’t your cat catch it?”
“No, Yes, She was asleep, too.”
Sandy nods, “I had an ex-fiancé who got me a tarantula for a pet.”

“A tarantula!” PP exclaims, the image of her mother beating back one of the big black hairy monsters with a broom.
“Why a tarantula?” PP asks.

Shaking her head, laughing, Sandy grins, “You see, there was this neighbor down the street who had the cutest rag doll Persian cat and they just ignored it like all get out and so every evening the cat would come to our door, knock knock, and we’d feed it and pet it, but then one day I realized that I was sniffling and my eyes were all red and watery. I was allergic to the cat.”

PP nods, wondering what the rag doll cat allergy had to do with tarantulas, but knew that patience was key here. If she just let Sandy talk, she’d get around to the arachnids.

“So my ex fiancé and his buddy,” she laughs. “Buddy....Cuz what do you call two forty something guys who go out and do such a thing as bring home a tarantula for a pet.”
“A pet tarantula?” PP asks, “Did you have.... what’s it called? A terrarium?”
“A terrarium? No,” she laughs again. “No, I told him to take the goddamn thing and put it back on Mt. Diablo where it belongs.”
“Did he?”
“Oh, yeah.”

“Is that where he got it in the first place?” PP asks, glancing over at DL who’s listening with rapt spider attention.
“No, he just found it in his back yard and caught it and presented it to me for my birthday.”
“Seems like a strange pet. I mean you can’t walk it or …..”
“Actually, you can. I don’t know about walking them, but they’re actually very sweet. Very good-natured.”

Again, PP conjures up the image of the big evil spider crawling menacingly out of the ‘forest’ in Hacienda Heights, her mother with the broom, ready to chase it or destroy it. At the time, it had been so scary, and of course, PP had been so relieved when her mom had done away with the savage monster.

But now a whole new world of good natured tarantulas was opened up to her.
Would the tarantulas of Hacienda Heights have made good pets?

PP shivers even in the heat of Utopia. Somehow she just can’t picture it. Having a tarantula for a pet. Way too big. Way too black. Way too scary.

No way.

And the same seemed to be true for Sandy, too, since she had her ex-fiancé get rid of her tarantula.

Surely DL’s spider bite hadn’t been a tarantula? She would’ve woken up if such a creature had been crawling under her sheets and….


PP glances around U. The two women are staring at her. Had she just shrieked for real?
“....and birds are better pets than people know. They’re actually quite possessive….” Sandy continues, DL nods, PP grins.

How’d they get from tarantulas to birds?

See, that’s what she gets for allowing her imagination to run away. She loses the thread of the story.

Though in this case, the loss of thread might be just what she needs for an apt conclusion.

After all, how did she get from showing her bites to DL to a story about Tarantulas?

She never knows. It just happens.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


‘That is such a cute suit!’ Sandy exclaims from her end locker vantage point as PP wriggles into the new cute suit.
“So Retro. Love it!” Sandy continues, turning away from PP and rummaging through her locker. “Too cute to be wasted on this pool.”

Laughing, PP shakes her head, wondering what this means. Like she should be lounging about in the Bahamas, drinking Mai Tais and turning heads?

“Well, it’s this pool or Hilltopia,” PP says instead of sharing her sexy tropical vision with Sandy. Not that Sandy wouldn’t have liked it. But PP had to get into the pool now or she wasn’t gonna get a swim in. And she needed a swim even though, like on all Wed eves, she was beyond tired.

Why did it feel extra specially so this eve?
Radiation poisoning?

Everyone was going on and on about the nuclear plant melt down in Japan after the horrific earthquake and tsunami. Like the poison particles were gonna float through the air 5000 miles and cause millions of cases of thyroid cancer to the unsuspecting populace of California.

Was this really possible?

Sandy nods when PP mentions this worry later. “Yeah, well, I dunno. I suppose it could be. But I’ll tell you what I’m worried about that no one is talking about. The water. That’s what I’m concerned about. The disaster over there was caused in part by water and so it makes sense that the nuclear waste would get absorbed in the water and then be carried across the ocean to us.”

PP sighs. Damn. Another thing to worry about. She just wished that she could stay in the pool and swim and swim and never get out so that she wouldn’t have to hear about such things.

But of course, this isn’t possible.
She’d get too cold.
Or too hungry.
Or too tired.

Plus even as she swims, her mind keeps on worrying. Hell, what were all these Californians panicking about? Sure, the radiation might, just might, waft over the sea and contaminate them.

But in the meantime, what about all of the horror that the people of Japan are going through right at this moment? No water. No food. No electricity. Hundreds of people dead and missing. It was too horrific to contemplate for long.

And so she wished that she could go on swimming, up and down, up and down. Lap after lap.

Yet swimming was the answer only for 45 minutes or so. After that, well, Reality has to takeover, as much as she tried to fight It.

Dropping her cute new suit, now a wet ball after her swim into a plastic bag, PP sighs again as she tried to get her stuff together to head home.

But then, hilarity sets in with the Utopian Women.
Suzie says something about ‘sensible’? "What do we know about that?”
And Sandy laughs and nods, as PP grins, “Nothing. We know nothing about being sensible. It takes way too much effort. I try to avoid it whenever possible.”

Suzie slaps her skinny pink corduroyed thigh, Sandy smiles, DL gives PP a look, like Can we get the hell outta here?

This is what PP pays attention too, of course. DL’s the Queen of Silent Communication.

Something PP wishes more people had just a little bit more of, esp. lately with so much Disaster in the air.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

In Memoriam: Wispy, the Sweetest Cat in the World

“Where’s Wispy?”
I’m visiting Ian’s Fruitvale Château, where Wispy, the Queen of the Spots, has resided for several years.
“She’s in her latest Spot,” Ian grins, leading me into the living room to point at the napping lump of gray fur, her Spot this day being on the kitty rug in front of her bay windows, looking out over E 16th street. Of course, Wispy isn’t gazing at the view. At least not right now, but is deep in Kitty Dreamland.
"That’s a New Spot, isn’t it?” I ask, bending down to ‘pat’ her on her smooth round head. IPR [Instant Purr Response] starts up immediately. She is the Sweetest Cat.
“Yes. It is a relatively New Spot. Last week she was on the corner of the bed, the week before she was in front of the heater.....”
“Well, of course, that’s the warmest spot in the house. She’s no idiot.”
He laughs, “That’s true. It’s just so cute. Every so often she moves to a new spot and then that’s the spot for a few days or a few weeks and then she abandons that spot and moves on to the next.”
“She’s an Apartment Spot Traveler!” I joke, sitting down on the floor to continue the purring rubs, which have now turned into sweet, “Mrrreeoww. Mrrreeoow’s.”
Ian nods, smiling down adoringly at his Sweet Kitty.
“She really is the Sweetest Cat,” I proclaim, as Wispy rubs her head against my hand, demanding more ‘pats.’
"Yes, she is,” Ian agrees, before heading back into the kitchen to check the broccoli.

“Hey, Wisperator!’ I call out, walking through the apartment looking for her.
“That’s a cute name,” Ian follows me, “Wisperator Wisperator... Oh, Wispy!”
“You don’t think it’s too much like the Terminator?” I ask, finding The Wisperator in her latest spot, on the arm of the green couch, in her yoga stretch position. One paw lying cutely crossed over the other. This is one of her favorite poses. She’s so relaxed, yet such a poser too.
“No,” Ian grins, leaning over to pat her paws. (She’s one of those rare cats who not only allows this, but also seems to enjoy it) “I think it’s a cute name.”
“Super cute,” I laugh as we both gaze down at her.

“You know what the cutest thing about Wispy is?” I ask, as we hang out after dinner, Wispy sitting on Ian’s lap.
“No,” he smiles, patting the Purring One.
“She always has her Wispy Smile on.”
“Yeah,” Ian laughs, “that’s true.”
“I think that’s one of the reasons she’s the Sweetest Cat in the world. Her Kitty Smile is always beaming.”
“Yes,” he agrees, examining her smile, “it certainly is one of the reasons.”
“Of course, the real reason is just cuz she is the Sweetest Cat in the World,” I proclaim.
He grins, “Yup, you’ve got that right.”

And she was. The Wisperator. The Wispy. The Queen of the Spots. The Sexy Yoga Poser. The Constant Smiler.

Wispy was the Sweetest Cat in the World.

And we’ll all miss her terribly.
But her ‘smile’ lives on in our hearts, as corny as it sounds.
Somehow, I think she wouldn’t mind ‘corny’.

For after all, she was the Sweetest Cat in the World!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Unexpected

“The pool, it was good tonight, yes?” Beautiful Serene Vietnamese Woman asks PP as she and DL tumble tiredly into Utopia.

“Yeah, the temperature was nice,” PP responds, settling into her corner while DL plops down on the bench below. “But I had the Splashy Guys Experience.”

BSVW nods, “Yes.”

“You timed it just right, leaving when you did. You know the one with all the Stringy Grey Hair who pounds the water to create waves galore?” PP asks.

“AAARRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!” she cries, sitting up and tossing her long dark hair out of her face. “THAT GUY!!!!”

DL giggles along with PP even though she doesn’t know who SGH Splasher is. Later DL tells PP how BSVW’s response was so unexpected. She’s always so calm and quiet and well, serene. So this emotional outburst of Swimmer’s Ire was even funnier.

“My husband,” she continues, wrapping her dark hair into a neat bun on top of her head, “he tells me That Guy, he plays the drums” (She motions like there’s a bongo in front of her to beat on) in the man’s sauna.”

Giggling, PP nods, “That doesn’t surprise me. I believe it.”

“Too much energy, That Guy,” she pronounces, lying back down,sighing loudly.

And PP has to agree that this may be the crux of his splashing problem. He has to beat the water as hard as he can and make as many waves as possible because he needs a release for all of that excess energy.

Something PP doesn’t get. She never has excess energy. Esp. on Wednesday evenings after her long work day. She’s always amazed when she gets to this point in the day here in Utopia, ready to collect a story or two for her blog.

DL rises, heading for the cooler climes outside of Utopia.
“You getting too hot?” PP asks her.
She nods, can’t speak she’s so hot. Another thing PP doesn’t get since she’s always cold. Except in Utopia. One of the many reasons it is Utopia.

Beautiful Serene Vietnamese Woman being another. Esp. when she surprises PP with her hilariously apt reaction to a common Oakland Y pool phenomenon: drum playing, water beating, too energetic swimmer guys.

Mad as Hell!

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