Thursday, February 23, 2012

Leave Those Oranges Alone!

“I never want to see another crate of oranges as long as I live!” Hurt Back Woman sighs longly, shifting her heft in the dark corner of Hilltopia’s sauna.

Laughing, PP watches in concern. Back pain is nothing to mess around with. She knows this from Owen Hill’s odious back ailment. She’ll never forget the time they brought the cat to the vet and Owen was in so much back pain that he just had to lie down on the cold linoleum of the waiting room floor and writhe and cry.

That was a bad day.

This day, though No More Orange Crate Woman seems to be in pain, she was in the pool earlier with the Rusty Hinges, so she could move. The water’s restorative powers doing their magic.

“I was visiting my sister in law, she lives in Merced and she was loading crates of oranges into the truck and I just lifted one and handed it to her, and yup, there goes my back.” She sighs. “This happens every 3 years or so. I just have to be careful.”

Nodding, PP offers, “Yeah, I know what you mean. We reach a certain age and then we really have to watch what we do. Things that we used to do even a few years ago……well…we just can’t anymore."

Somehow this discussion is appropriate today since it’s her birthday. The general decrepitude of middle age, while on the one hand is slow, is, on the other hand, lightning fast. It seems like only a few years ago that she could swim 50 yards in less than a minute. Now, even with her fins, if she makes it with 5 seconds to spare, she’s doing good.

She doesn’t tell Orange Crate Woman all of this though. Just nods and offers a sympathetic response: “Like with my swimming, I have to use the fins a lot cuz of my neck pain.”

OCW grunts as she shifts her heft. “I did this once.... let’s was when I was 40 that was 25 years ago? (PP marvels at this tidbit—she’s 65?! Wow! She doesn’t look that old. How old does she look? Like 45? It’s so weird. Age. Appearance. Body Aches and pains and limitations.)

“So, I was due for another bout of it.” She laughs, ruefully. “It’s been 3 weeks. I just have to take it easy. It’ll heal. I haven’t been to my chiropractor. Though he would say to just lay down on the floor with a towel rolled up under your head.” She rolls her towel to show PP. Then chuckles. “He said if he told all his patients this trick he’d be outta business.”

“But he told you,” PP smiles.
“Yeah, he did. So I just gotta remember to follow-up and do it. But I tell you, I’m never gonna look at oranges the same way again.
“That makes perfect sense,” PP agrees, thinking how at least she has a reason for her back pain. An Orange Reason no less.

Getting up, PP feels a bit woozy as she always does when she sits too long in the sauna (something she tends to do when chatting with someone to gather a story).

“May you heal quickly,” she calls out to Anti Orange Woman before shutting the door.
“Oh, my!” the tone of her voice is genuinely touched. “Thank you!”

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Italian Counts and Cats

“It’s about time!” Sandy proclaims, squirting another splash of water on her beady body.

DL and PP laugh as they find a spot in Utopia. PP needs this. The pool was Splash Hell this evening. She was forced to share a lane with Splash Bongo Man who had been surprisingly chatty, “Are you leavin' already," she'd joked when he finally heaved his scrawny self outta the water. He'd nodded, then given her a crooked crazed grin, "Yeah. Now you have it all to yourself. Enjoy!”

Oh, she was glad he was gone! His manic splashing had worn her out and created neck wrongness.

“Rumor has it that you had run off with an Italian Count and were temporarily ensconced at his Umbrian Villa teaching English till you married, but this was contingent upon his mother’s approval till you were able to make perfect gnocchi.” Sandy is in top form this evening.

“How did you know?” PP jokes as DL stretches out on the bottom bench, sighing blissfully.

“Seriously though,” Sandy continues, “Did you have a wonderful trip? What was your most favorite thing you did?”
PP had to think about this for a moment; there were so many. “The pool adventure in Florence was fantastic!”

“Si, si. My sis found the pool and then found the bus route; something I don’t think I woulda done. Then we actually did it. Got on the bus. Found the pool. Signed away all our rights in Italian. Who knows what we signed!”
“What do you mean?” Sandy asks.
“Oh, you know how you visit someone’s club, like here at the Y for instance, and they make you sign some release form absolving them from all responsibility if you drown.”
“Oh, sure.”
“Well, I think this is what it was. Who knows. We didn’t speak Italian and all the beauteous women at the desk didn’t speak English so we just signed the forms and went our merry way into the waters.”

Sandy nods, serious.
“What else?” she asks.
Thinking, PP lights up. “You know, you travel a lot. It’s the things that you stumble upon that are the best. Like the cats at Largo Argentina ruins.”
“What’s that?”
“It’s the Roman SPCA. There’re these ruins in the middle of Rome, near the Parthenon neighborhood-- you know it?”
“Sure,” Sand nods, listening intently.

“And on our walk back from the Parthenon, we see these columns sprouting up in the middle of a square and then I see a cat. And then another cat. And then I look down into the ruins, and there are LOTS of cats. And then I go down these stairs, and it’s CAT Sanctuary Roman style with Roman Cat ladies trying to get you to adopt a cat to take back to Oakland with you.”

“You’re kidding?”
“Like there aren’t already enough cats here,” Sandy snorts.
“I know. “

“Though I suppose those Roman Cats would be Tough Guys, eh? No collars for those Roman Cats. Unlike the pampered cats here in the States.” Sandy chuckles demonically.

“Hey, you’re right,” PP giggles, eying DL who’s starting to sit up, readying herself to leave the sauna. PP imagines that DL can’t drag herself away from the Roman v. US Cat Collar Conversation, but maybe she’s just dizzy and moving slowly.

“No collars on those Roman Cats! I never thought of that!” PP grins.
Sandy nods, then takes on a gravelly Tough Guy Cat Voice: “What you doin'? No collar for me Bro!” She laughs, suddenly embarrassed. “Actually that sounded a little too Oakland, but you know what I mean.”

“Oh, yeah. You’re absolutely right!” PP nods. "I wonder if the Italian Count has any cats at his Villa in Umbria? And if he does, do you think they'd be collared or not?"

Sandy thinks for a moment before replying, "It'd be up to his Mother. They have all the power."
"Yes, that's true," PP concurs. "If she said the cats need collars, then they'd have them. And if she decreed no collars, then that would be law."

Opening the door to the sauna to let herself out, DL sighs, "Va beni!" she sings softly, before floating out of the sauna, leaving PP and Sandy to grin in her wake.


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