Wednesday, February 23, 2011

We Are So Sad!




“We are so sad!” Indian Water Walker proclaims to all the women dressing, grumbling in the aisle.

The sauna is Out of Order.

It is a day of great sadness and complaining and coldness.

Before swimming, PP had heard the Water Aerobics Women, who’d just been in the pool, complaining about how cold they were & offering a variety of solutions:





“I’m just gonna go home and put my pajamas on!” “I know someone. She just puts on her pajamas right here after her workout.” “My son, I got him some of those pajamas and he liked them so much he was wearin' them all the time. I tell you I am sick of those pajamas.” “I’m gonna go home and make me something hot to drink.” “I’m gonna make me some hot cereal.” “Mmmm…hot Oatmeal.”

“I’m gonna go home and make me a cocktail!”




PP laughs along with them as she pushes her stray hairs up into her cap in front of the mirror where they’re all working their post workout beautifying. Usually, PP would be putting her cap on in the sauna, but the Out of Order sign, which she ignored at first, (How could it be? She’d just been in the sauna yesterday and it was fine!) was right. When she’d opened the door a cold silent emptiness greeted her.

Damn.

We are all so sad!

After her swim, IWW harrumphs around in the shower. Shaking her head. “We need the sauna!” PP offers, knowing intuitively that this is what all the harrumphing is about.
“I KNOW! WE DO! It is not right!”
“Yeah, the pool is cold,” PP agrees, joining in the complaining, an activity near and dear to her heart, esp. when it involves temperature.

“YES it is! And when the water is cold they need to fix the sauna!”
“What are our fees for anyway?” another woman joins in.
“That is absolutely right!” IWW agrees, then heads back into the shower, still shouting something about the broken sauna, but by this time, PP is wet and cold and without the sauna, cranky, and so she just ignores the rest of the Shower Rant and heads back to her locker.

IWW arrives shortly after her. Bird Tattoo Woman is cranky, too, as she peels off her black spandex to show off her cockatoo. “I worked out upstairs. And one of the machines is broken. And I wanted a sauna and now you tell me it is broken.”




She pouts.

IWW nods, “We are all so sad!” she proclaims again.

And we are.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

I Don’t Have Favorites!






“Ahhhhrrrgggh!” she play acts, pretending that she’s mad, upset, put out over PP showing up at the same locker again. Throwing up her hands in mock exasperation. Knocking her forehead in pretend frustration. Grinning from ear to ear.

“Here we are again!” PP calls out as she languids down the aisle to her locker, grinning at Pretend Girl. “Must be Tuesday!”

PG laughs, nods and smiles as PP comes up to the locker next to hers and starts to unwind the combination. “Did you have fun in the pool tonight?” PP asks her as she pulls her pile of clothes out of the too small locker, trying not to drop her fuzzy purple skirt on the wet cement floor.

“Yeah,” PG shrugs. “I gotta go find my mom and see if she has my other clog.”

“Oh, okay,” PP nods as PG shyly reaches inside her own locker and pulls out a flip flop. Is a flip flop a clog? Does she have one flip flop foot and one clog foot?
Who knows?

But one thing PP does know is that PG loves swimming. When PG is in the pool it's pure giggling fun with her mom and dad (PP guesses). She dives under the lanes in front of the lap swimmers (PP doesn’t care with her—she’s just having so much fun); slams through the water in a spastic imitation of the crawl; hangs on her parents, laughing joyfully.

Yet like the other child PP saw over the summer, there’s something ‘up’ with her. More autism? Perhaps. PG’s eyes are too big and round and stare kinda sideways out of her fleshy brown face. Her speech is carefully weighed before she speaks. Her manner is just a little off.

How old is she?

PP can’t tell. Certainly not 16 (like the rules for the locker-room state & everyone ignores) But then, maybe this is it. Maybe she is 16 and she acts and looks like a
10 or 11 year old?

Whatever the ‘different ability’ is that she has, PP still knows one thing: she has a sly sense of humor.

Like the play-acting greeting just now. So fun and unexpected, completely delighting PP on this tired post swim Tuesday eve at Hilltopia.

“Did you find your clog?” PP asks PG when she returns. PG stares at PP, mystified. Then shrugs. “Yeah.”

But no clog in hand. So…? Maybe she hadn’t said clog at all in the first place?

“Are you hungry after swimming?” PP asks, changing the subject.
“Yeah.”
“What’re you gonna eat when you get home?”
“Some cereal.”
“That sounds fun. What kind?”
She stares shyly at PP. Why is she being bombarded with all of these questions her look seems to say, though of course this doesn’t deter PP. She’s all about asking questions. It’s the answering them that she abhors.






“Some kind of ….” PG pauses, considering the cereal question, “….with honey?” she ventures.
“Oh, like Honey Nut Cherrios?” PP asks, not that she’s ever eaten such delectable fare, but she’s seen the ad on TV with the woman in the hard hat building a skyscraper and effusing over a bowl of it.
PG shrugs, then smiles, “Yeah.”

There’s a silence. Why is PP so wanting to engage her tonight? Is it because she’s been saddled with dense abstract meaningless academic writing all day and the idea of discussing Cherrios is appealing?

“You have school tomorrow?” PP continues inanely.
“Yeah.”
“What’s your favorite subject?”

PG stares at the ground for a moment, then up at PP, her gaze fierce, “I don’t have favorites!”

Wow! PP’s totally thrown by the intensity of this response. She has favorites of everything. Favorite color: blue; favorite cat: Sylvia; favorite TV show: All My Children. But decides against insisting this propensity for favoritism on PG. Instead goes for the diplomatic answer, not her favorite, but sometimes necessary.

“That’s good not to have favorites,” PP agrees.
“Yeah.”

PG doesn’t offer more and PP doesn’t press. It could very well be a sensitive topic for her. Maybe she wasn’t anyone’s favorite at home or school or with friends. Maybe since she’s “different” the reality of ‘favoritism’ was one she was keenly aware of.
Maybe it’s not such a good question to ask strange girls in the locker-room, PP thinks as she starts to pack up her bag to head out.

“Hey!” PP turns, smiling (or trying to), “we talk every Tuesday, but I don’t know your name. What is it?”
“Marlene.”
“Marlene?” PP grins, like Marlene Dietrich? Of course, she’s not going to have this film archive reference, though Bay Area Children can surprise you.





“No. With a e!”
“Oh, sorry. How do you spell it? M-E-L-E-N-A? Melena?”
She nods, pleased now. “That’s a very pretty name,” PP tells her as she closes her locker and heaves her swim bag up.

Melena smiles happily and shyly.
“See you next Tuesday,” PP says.
“Yeah.” Melena agrees as she turns away to focus her attention on getting home to her Cheerios. Which PP is sure, are NOT her favorite!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Wrong Carrot





The jacuzzi’s full of the post aerobic class women. Well, three of them by the time PP finishes her swim in the cute little West End Tennis Club pool.

When they’d arrived (PP and her Sis), the Aerobic Ladies were taking up the entire pool except for one lane where a diligent older gent was beating the water from end to end—you know that kind of lap swimming that seems to go backwards with a lot of splashing?

“Oh, I forgot about the aerobics,” Sis murmurs, not mentioning Backwards Gent.
“That’s okay,” PP nods, surveying the scene of bobbing sunhats of lavender, black and lime. “There’s still room.”

“No, you take the lane and I’ll wait,” Sis urges, but then just at this moment, as if she’d overheard? the Aerobics Instructor hollers at the women taking up a lap lane to move on over.

“Thank you!” Sis effuses to her, glancing over at PP who grins with pool takeover satisfaction. After all, the aerobics don’t need a lap lane and her sister does!
And so, now after their swim, lounging about in the Jacuzzi, PP sighs as she climbs in. It’d been a hell of a week. Her grandmother’s funeral, while quiet and nice, had been completely draining and so this day with her sister, beginning with a swim was such a treat.

And the Jacuzzi Women were just icing on the cake as the saying goes. Or in this case, bubbles on the water. Big Bubbles. Big Tan Bubbles. Big Tan Bubbles with lots of time on their hands. They volunteer. Travel the world. Eat exotic foods.

Or not so exotic.

The bread rhapsodizing that ensued evidenced just how unexotic their tastes really were. Which not to be snotty or anything, but fit Torrance to a T.

“When I was in Asia, I missed bread so much!”
“Me too!” PP joins in. “Where in Asia were you?”
“Japan.”
“Ah, I was in China and you just couldn’t find bread, at least not the kind of bread we have here: sour dough, wheat, …”
“I like Rye Bread!” Scrawny Tanned Woman interrupts. “In Germany, my husband, he always insisted on the Rye Bread.”
“It soaks up the butter best,” Sis offers.





They look at her for a second, then all nod in agreement. The comment took a moment to process, but Sis had said it all with her Butter Soak Up Proclamation. No further analysis was needed.

However, butter soaking properties or not, PP hates Rye Bread, yet decides against vocalizing this. She was outnumbered.

“I had to try to stop eating so much bread,” Asia Breadless Woman announces. (But maybe she didn’t really say this; PP could be making this part up to get to the heart of the story faster.) “I’ve lost 45 pounds!” she continues.
“Wow! That’s great!” Sis congratulates.

“Yeah, my aerobics teacher she has this website and she wants to put me on the Before and After, but I eat too much bread to be on the website. She keeps saying that if I just lost 15 more pounds I could be on her website. I hate to break it to her, but she’s holding out the wrong carrot. I have no desire to be on her website!”




She giggles conspiratorially. For of course, we all agree. Who’d want to be on one of those before and after sites? Of course many must since there’re such a plethora of them. And then there’s Oprah. She’s big on the Before and After. In fact, maybe she invented it. But that’s another blog.




PP admires Asian Breadless Woman for her anti before/after fame conviction. Hell, she’s not gonna give up bread for such an embarrassing enticement!

And PP wonders, is there a right carrot? Would ABW agree to the Before/After Photo Shoot with some other 'carrot'?

Well, you all know the answer to this.

Bread.
Rye Bread.
Wheat Bread.
French Bread.
Lots of Bread.

Of course, then there's the Oprah After/Before Syndrome, but hell, isn't bread worth it?