“EEEEUUUUWW, Gross!” PP exclaims, dancing around the puddle on the disgusting locker room floor. She’s just accidentally soaked the bottom of her skirt in the mucky water. Lifting up the edge of it, she tries to shake the wet spot out.
Malena giggles, delighted. “It’s just water,” she grins.
“Yeah, I know, you’re right, but it’s yucky!”
M laughs again, her eyes sparkling behind her thick foggy glasses. “I have a hula hoop,” she announces, trying to detract PP from her water grossness obsession?
She pulls out a black, red, and blue striped hula hoop from her locker; folded in half now, she unravels it and shows it to PP, who’s sitting down, pulling her Kitty Kat socks on, having given up on the skirt dampness.
M stares at the cat socks, but makes no comment as she holds the hula hoop up for PP to admire.
“That’s super cool,” PP smiles, “Did you take a hula hoop class tonight instead of swimming?”
Earlier M had plopped down on the sauna bench adjacent to PP, already dressed in her “I Heart NYC” t-shirt and black stretch pants. Her long dark hair wet and stringy.
“You weren’t in the pool tonight?” PP had observed.
“No, I’m too tired,” M had sighed.
“Yeah, me too,” PP had agreed, thinking of how exhausting the pool has been lately. Full of screaming kids splashing and novice lap swimmers crashing. Summer was coming. Ugh.
“I’m hungry too,” M had announced.
“Oh, yeah, me too,” PP had agreed, “What’re you gonna eat?”
She’d shrugged, “I dunno. Probably a cereal.”
“Sounds good,” PP had nodded, rising and heading out of the sauna.
“Same old thing!” M had pronounced, referring to their Tuesday night shared locker area as she followed PP out.
“Yup, same thing,” PP had agreed, “I know it’s Tuesday cuz of you!”
M had giggled, so easily amused by PP’s random nonsenses.
Now, with the hula hoop, M glances around, “No room here,” she muses.
“Nope,” PP’s gathering up her lotions and hair brush, preparing for the next phase of the getting out of here ritual. Heading over to the mirrors, she thinks of how she really needs to get out of the Y before she faints from hunger and exhaustion. It’s been a long day.
M appears behind her, stands next to the mirrors in a space that may be roomy enough for a hula hoop demo. She gives it a try, but the hoop knocks into a locker. She sighs, then smiles, glancing up at PP who’s trying to get the goddamn tangles out of her wet hair.
“Guess there’s not quite enough room here, eh?” PP observes as she picks up the blow dryer and attempts to administer its half-assed warming agents.
M continues to try the hula hoop, but then after it falls down again, her rounded hips unable to keep it going, she sighs. Giving PP a shy smile, she heads back to her locker.
A few moments later, while wringing out her suit at the sink, PP feels a firm, shy arm wrap around her from behind. A wet head nuzzles into her side, resting on her.
It’s M, giving PP the sweetest Surprise Hug. “Oh….” PP exclaims, touched. “A hug! That’s so sweet. If my hands weren’t wet, I’d hug you back.”
M continues to hold PP, gently but firmly for several seconds, her arm wrapped around PP’s waist possessively.
Her affection does surprise PP. She’s not used to such advances, esp. from sweet youngsters. PP’s not sure exactly what inspired M to give her a hug this evening. Was it her jokes about the gross water? Her willingness to watch the hula hoop demo? The commiseration with being tired and hungry?
Maybe all of the above? PP, nevertheless, is genuinely touched by M’s gesture.
It’s not often that appreciation and affection come at one out of the blue. And when it does, well, there’s a lot to be said for it, isn’t there? Esp. if it’s from a sweet girl who obviously has a lot of love to give, cliché as that sounds. PP’s just glad that she’s the lucky recipient of M’s fondness.
If only more of us showed our feelings so openly and spontaneously. It’d be a very different place, wouldn’t’ it?
M lets go and backs away, picking up her pink panther backpack and heading out of the locker room.
“Bye, bye,” PP calls after her. “You made my day!”
M giggles softly, shakes her head as she gives PP a little wave before trudging out into her world.