Showing posts from 2012


“Were those your daughters out in the pool?” Penelope asks the round friendly woman who has sat down next to her in the sauna. The two sisters had been having a blast earlier while Penelope was swimming laps. In fact, the lifeguard had even gotten into the act, a rarity at the Y. Coaching the girls to swim, with commands like: "Just one more lap! C'mon, you can do it!" The girls had been game. Laughing joyously, jumping, swimming, arms flailing. Not exactly lap swimming, but then, they were just kids.

Beaming, the woman nods, “Yes. They love it! My middle daughter, she has asthma, and it’s the only thing I can get her to do.”

“I had a friend who had asthma,” Penelope responds, shifting to sit up. “She started swimming, and after awhile, it actually improved and then, finally went away. Swimming is such a great exercise.”

“That is really good to hear,” Asthma Daughter Mom sighs. “Her doctor wasn’t so sure about swimming, but my daughter needs to do something. She’s on …

Such a Spirit

“I just wanted to let you know....” Sandy has tapped Penelope lightly on the shoulder, leaning in close, speaking softly. What’s up? Penelope wonders. Has Sandy ever touched her before? Something serious is wrong.

And such a switch, now that everyone has left Utopia, the atmosphere still chuckling at Sandy’s hilarious story of the Booger Swimmer Film. “I was staying at this hotel and went downstairs to the’d like this, Penelope,” she nods toward her, swigging another gulp from her water bottle, “all the machines were facing the deep end of the pool. It was a huge glass wall and the deep end of the pool was right there for all to see. And in comes this man with a video camera and sets himself up right in front of the deep end view and I think to myself, You gotta be kidding me! What a You-Know-What.....and then in comes this woman in this too small bikini and again, I think to myself, Lady you should NOT be in that suit. And she goes and gets into the pool and lo and behol…

It Is So Sad....


“I just wanna find me a rich husband to take care of me and my baby girl.” Gold digger Teen giggles, fiddling with her lavender bra strap.
“How old’s your baby now?” her friend asks, tossing a long brunette braid out of her face.
“She’s gonna be a year in 3 months! Can you believe it?”
“No, wow. It beena year?”
“ much do you weigh?”
“I’m 128. Can you believe I was 161 when I was pregnant? I was hella fat.”

They both giggle. Penelope closes her eyes, soaking in the sauna’s heat and eavesdropping. How old are these girls she wonders? And one of them has a baby? Shit. They seem like babies themselves.

The door of the sauna creaks open. Penelope opens one eye, turning her head toward the door. Water Walker Night Nurse floats gently in, sighing softly, and plops down in the dark corner next to the girls. Penelope smiles over at her, but isn’t sure Night Nurse sees.

“You still have that restraining order 'gainst Alfonzo?”
“Yeah, he beat me something awful,” Gold…


“Is she okay?”
DL gives Penelope that worried look, her eyes magnified big and round behind her steamy glasses.

The woman in question has been giving soft moans as she moves slowly in front of one of the jets of the hot tub. It could be pleasure. It could be pain. It could be nothing.

But a moan is a moan.

“You okay?” Penelope calls out to her, eyeing DL for support.
Another moan. This one sounds like a mix of pleasure and pain. “Oh, ooohhh….oh…..ahaaa….mmmmmmm……”

Penelope waits for a few seconds, then gets a response in words, “I’m okay. It’s just my back. My scapula. Since the accident I been in so much pain, but today I ordered me up a Juicer. And oh I just can’t wait. I’m gonna get me some spinach and some kale and some berries and juice juice juice.”

Penelope and DL both grin broadly. She’s okay. Just dreaming of her juicer evidently. Penelope hopes that she doesn’t combine all of the listed ingredients in one smoothie. Spinach? Kale? And berries?

“I’m like a kid with …


“Where did you get that most excellent purple cap?” Penelope asks as she finishes tucking her hair into her ordinary Speedo cap.

“Tee hee!” The Lovely giggles, pleased. “Isn’t it great? I can’t remember exactly, but I think down at Transports on College.”
Penelope nods, remembering her former life on College Avenue. Frequenting Transports was part of this life. Yet she doesn't remember any such caps.

The Lovely I’s was vintage layered scallop. You know the type. Thick rubber with little layers of rubber leaves folding upon each other. And it was, as already mentioned, an enchanting purple hue (The Lovely I’s favorite color---Penelope knows this cause when she used to car pool to Mills with the Lovely I and picked her up at her cute house, it had lavender trim. Penelope had commented on this fanciful dress. The Lovely I had nodded, admitting proudly of how purple was her favorite color.)

So, now admiring this purple cap, Penelope is taken back to pictures of Esther Williams, swimm…

New Neural Pathways

“It’s good to swim in different pools,” the Lovely I beams over at Penelope as she adjusts her goggles. “It carves out New Neural Pathways.”

Penelope grins, delighted. It’s so wonderful to have the Lovely I here at the Hilltopia pool with her. Just like old times. What with the Lovely I’s pronouncements echoing across the lanes as the Rusty Hinges start to fill up the walking lane.

“What are the Rusty Hinges?” The Lovely I had asked Penelope earlier.
“You’ll see,” Penelope had teased. Later she’d explained how she thought, at first glance of the pool schedule, that Rusty Hinges was the name of some aquatics instructor. It was only later that she’d learned that it was a special class for arthritis sufferers.

“That is so great,” The Lovely I had giggled when she’d told this story, sincerely appreciative of the different interpretations of a pool schedule.

Penelope still remembers taking the Lovely I to water therapy at the Albany pool after her fall from a horse. Broken pelvis. Pene…

The Black Adonis

“Are you a swimmer?”

Penelope had been watching him from her hospital bed, her post anesthesia drug haze providing a questioning filter. Yet, she was almost certain. It was he. The Black Adonis. From Mills College pool.

He would sit under a big tarp, in his black Speedo (yes, he could pull it off; most guys, esp. at Mills where Pasty Academics reigned, were better off in the floppy Hawaiian print shorts)

But the Black Adonis, for this is what he was, well.... much swooning took place at the pool for all the non-Lesbians.

Under his tarp, in his black Speedo, he’d be reading. Penelope was never sure what. She imagined it must be Homer or Melville or......something Big and Bold and Manly.

For he was a Manly Man.

And now....?
He’s a nurse?

What kinda of Manly Man is a nurse?

A real Manly Man, that’s who.

When she’d come back from recovery, he’d been there, donned in his green nurse fatigues, helping to lift her from the recovery bed to her hospital one, his hands strong and gentle, hi…

Sicilian Poets

“LN, this is DL. DL this is LN. Fellow Sicilian Poets.”

It was love at first sight. Or would the Italians call it Amore Instantaniosa? In any case, Penelope watched in rapt wonderment. How could two total strangers be simpatico upon first meeting?

The two Sicilians beamed at each other. One gracious and soft. The other shy and warm. “LN wrote that book that I loaned you,” Penelope continued to DL, who barely nodded as she continued to gaze at LN. (The Public Gardens, Linda Norton, Pressed Wafer Press)

“I loved your book,” DL’s eyes shone behind her wire-rimmed glasses, beginning to steam from the hot tub’s warm bubbles?
Or for another reason?
An Italian reason?

“Oh,” LN murmured, genuinely touched, “You don’t know how much that means to me. You made my day.”

The two women gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes. Penelope expects Tony Bennett or Maria Callas to start blasting through the intercom system of the Downtown Oakland Y. (And okay, Penelope just googled Maria and found out she&…


“Have you heard about Mark Spitz’....” Sandy stops herself in mid-question, shaking her head, laughing.... “I mean Michael Phelps’ Pressure Chamber?”

“No,” Penelope grins, “I haven’t. What’s that?”

“It’s this chamber that he goes into to simulate very high altitudes. Like the Swiss Alps and such.”

“Isn’t that Cheating?” DL asks, sitting up from her usual prone position in Utopia.
“One would think,” Sandy continues. “But evidently not.”
“How does it work?” Penelope asks, thinking of course DL is right. Stupid Michael Phelps is a Cheater. His lungs are not his own but instead are some monstrosity by-product of a torturous pressure chamber.

“He goes into this chamber, and like I said, it simulates very high altitudes, and practices breathing very thin air. It must increase his lung capacity. That way when he’s swimming, he can use this increased lung capacity in order to have an edge over his competitors.”

“Sounds like Cheating to me,” DL nods.
“Yeah, me too. How is that fair? Do other …


Part II

“We have good news for you....”
PP waits on the other side of the phone for good news? About the Geo?
“Congratulations! Your car passed smog.”
“You’re kiddin?” PP jumps up and down in front of her big sunny window, barely able to contain herself. The Geo passed smog? With the Check Engine light on?
Good News Auto Boy continues to explain just how this happened. PP doesn’t care. She’s just so relieved. The Geo passed smog. She can go pick the car up. Mail in the registration.

And go to the pool.

So, when she floated out on deck for the 4:30 to 7:30 Lap Swim (yes, this is what the schedule said), she was on Cloud 9. Or 10 or 11.

So so so happy to have the Geo pass Smog and not have to worry about it for another two years.

Yet, there was a tiny voice inside that nagged her. Why aren’t the lane lines in for the entire pool? she wondered. What if there’s a repeat of Pool Pandemonium from Tuesday with Attitude Bitches, Chicken Lifeguards and .....

PP’s Pool PTSD was rising in spite…