Season of Mayhem: Summer
“Are you okay?”
PP knew Something Bad was gonna happen. It had been inevitable. Hilltopia Pool was jammed packed with screaming children, spastic lap swimmers and wayward kickers.
Which is exactly what had happened to her.
She’d been kicked.
Was she OK?
It was too early to tell. The pain was sharp and shooting. Emanating from the spot on her back where he’d landed his icky big foot.
Into her kidneys?
It felt like it.
“Are you OK?” he repeats. PP can vaguely feel his concern. She can’t look him in the eye. Knows that it was an accident.
Except. It wasn’t. When the pool is this much mayhem everyone has to be a little more careful. Watch their kicks into the next lane a little more closely.
Yet no one ever does. Everyone just swims blithely on like they own the pool and they're the king of their lane.
And her lane.
For this is what happened. His powerful Man Kick (as DL dubbed it the next day when PP related the story) had strayed under the lane line and bonked PP’s kidney mightily. She had to stop. She had to swoon.
She had to get out of the goddamn pool.
Later she felt a little sorry for the Man Kicker. She had just left. Not responded to his query of was she OK.
And she was. OK.
But yet she didn’t feel okay enough to feel too sorry for him. At least not yet.
Maybe next time she sees him.
“I just want to know why it is that the Master’s Team and the Aqua Aerobics are allowed into the pool 5 minutes early, yet the lap swimmers aren’t?”
PP’s pissed. She’d ventured into the El Cerrito Swim Center thinking maybe it’d be better than Hilltopia; but of course, she was wrong.
Summer: The season was enough to stop her from swimming.
She’d gotten to the pool early cuz she knew it’d be crazy. And when she parked the Geo at the end of the lot and witnessed the Spray Play Frog Fountain's gushing in the shallow pool with screaming children scurrying under it, she knew it was going to be a challenge.
Yet the deep pool where the lap swimmers swim was quiet. Still. Peaceful. Kid free.
So, maybe it’d be OK.
After waiting in line, ready to pay the exorbitant $5.50 fee, she faces the polite but non-registering her anxiety kid clerk who asks her, “You here for lap swimming?”
“You have to wait till 5:30.”
”What time is it now?” PP asks, craning her head under the window to see the clock as a parade of squealing kids with tired parents in tow pass thro the gate with no waiting.
“Can’t I go in now to get changed?” she asks. The lap swim time is only till 6:30 today. Only 1 hour. Which would be fine. If he would just let her in.
But he won't budge. Shakes his head, “Nope. Lap swimmers have to wait till 5:30.”
She wants to ask why but he doesn’t give her a chance, waving her to the side to help the next person.
So she waits. And the 5 minutes is a long one. She’s anxious since by the time he lets her in it’s gonna be 5:35 and it is.
In line in front of her, two Asian Hello Kitty Women’s Debit Card is declined 3 times. You Can’t Come In Clerk keeps asking them if they have another card. He keeps trying the same one when they shake their heads no. The clock keeps ticking. PP sees her lap hour slipping away.
Finally Hello Kitty Woman #2 pulls out some cash.
Why the hell didn’t she do that in the first place?
Can’t Come In Clerk takes his time making change. Lets them in. Motions for PP. Says some cheery bullshit when PP hands him the exact change, “Perfect. Have a nice swim.”
Fuck you Asshole, PP thinks as she hurries in.
It’s 5:35 now & Total Hell in the locker room. Kids crying. Moms swearing. Toilet paper draping.
PP hurries to get changed.But this takes 5 more minutes.
Now it’s 5:40; she heads out to the deck. Scrambles to put on her cap. Earplugs. Mask.
Now it's 5:45 as she jump into the pool.
It’s better than nothing, but still. If You Can’t Come In Clerk had let her in at 5:25......well.... Her swim woulda been relaxing instead of stressing.
So afterwards, when she asks the Tired End of the Day Clerk why she wasn’t let in and got angrier and angrier as he made her repeat her question over and over until finally he shrugs,
“Actually, the lap swimmers are supposed to be allowed in 5 minutes early just like the Aqua Aerobics. In the past, the reason that we didn’t let the lap swimmers in was cuz they’d get dressed really fast and then jump in before a lifeguard was there."
“Obviously, that isn’t the case today,” PP interrupts, remembering how there were at least 5 or 6 lifeguards sprinkled round the deck for swim lessons. Lap swimmers. Good Measure.
“Yes....” He pauses. It’s so hard dealing with these middle-aged women lap swimmers.
PP is a type now; she knows it. Complaining about her ‘pool rights’.
“.... sounds like whoever you dealt with was enforcing a previous policy,” he concedes. Finally.
PP sighs. Loudly. Shit.
“Well, maybe you should let your employees know that the policy has been changed.”
He doesn’t look at her. “Yes, well....we have a meeting in 35 minutes. I’ll be sure to bring it up.”
Oh, sure you will, she thinks as she stomps off, shaking her head in frustration.
Is it a Small Victory that PP was proven right?
Did he offer to give her her money back?
Are you kidding?
Lap Swimmer Discrimination. That’s what it is.
Or Pool Clerk Idiocy.
Yeah, that’s really what it is.
“Can you help me move the lane line over?” Evetlana asks PP who’s just finishing up a surprisingly nice swim at the Oaktown Y in spite of the crazed crowd of parents and small children who’d been flailing in the side of the pool next to her for the last 50 minutes.
“Sure,” PP nods. “No problem,” as she takes her mask off and prepares to dunk under the lane line to help move it.
“Oh no!” Evtlana’s face falls, her pale features falling into a resigned frown of disgust.
“What?” PP glances to the spot where E is pointing.
“I have to close the pool. You need to get out.”
PP doesn’t have to be asked twice. The brown floating slime ickyness nudging its way toward her causes a momentary rise of nausea.
She didn’t need to add to the Brown Alert.
“How was your swim?” DL asks later as PP tries to recover in the hot tub.
PP tells her.
DL nods, “A Lily Pad of Poop.”
"Yes!" PP laughs.
Was she OK?
Sure. As long as she had DL to entertain her with Poetic Pronouncements.
Lily Pad of Poop! What a perfect way to end her first week of Summer: The Season of Mayhem.