Only in Berkeley
“How ya gonna keep your book dry?” She chuckles good-naturedly, almost winks at PP.
They’d shared a lane together. Have already exchanged pleasantries about how pleasant the other one is in the water: “I like swimming with you,” Good Natured had said when she’d climbed into the tub, PP already basking in the heat needed waters.
“You don’t splash.” PP had made the same reciprocal compliment, with GN saying how she’d been in the pool the other day and this man was splashing so much that another woman had actually gotten out of the pool. “I try to be considerate. Not splash,” she laughs. “But like my mom used to say, if you don’t want to get splashed, stay away from the pool.”
So true, yet PP always selects the least splash-likely candidate to share a lane with. And today’s GN had been a winner.
So, now, in the tub, Book Boy barely deigns to answer the book stay dry query. He’s reading Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath after all (only in Berkeley), an endeavor that is way above chitchat in the Berkeley Y’s hot tub. (PP’s here cuz of Easter; both the Oakland and Hilltop Ys are closed.)
He peers at the two women above the quality paperback, “I can keep it dry.” PP thinks, Yeah, I bet you can. But doesn’t say this, just nods as GN starts listing Steinbeck’s entire canon. “I haven’t read that one,” she shakes her head, mystified at herself. “My favorite is In Dubious Battle. (PP loves this) But, of course, there’s, Of Mice and Men, The Winter of Our Discontent, and .....”
“I have to admit that East of Eden is my favorite,” PP interrupts. “I’m a sucker for the big soap.”
Book Boy is pointedly ignoring them at this point. As to be expected.
She laughs. “Oh, yeah, I love that one too. Have you been down to Salinas to his house? They’ve built a new museum there. It’s fabulous.”
“No, no, I haven’t.” PP shakes her head.
“You should go. It’s completely renovated. And then I remember we went up to their ranch in Fremont. Have you been there?”
“No, I didn’t know he had a ranch in Fremont.”
She nods, knowledgeably, as only Berkeleyites can do. “Yup, he and his sister used to play Lancelot and Gwenivere there.”
“Really?” PP is beyond delighted at this tidbit of Steinbecken Lore. She never knew this fact, though it made sense. Didn’t he write a book about the King Arthur? She seems to recall this, but then her brain is a bit water logged at this point so she doesn’t bring it up. GN doesn’t pause for a breath anyway.
“They took the dog there. Charlie.”
“Oh,” PP gushes. “That Travels with Charlie is really my favorite. I adore that book.”
She nods, “Yeah, I’ve heard it’s a good one. I haven’t read that one either. But he and his sister and the dog used to go up there to Fremont, play Lancelot and Gwenivere. It musta been beautiful then.”
She pauses, transported to Fremont in the days of Steinbeck’s Round Table games. PP nods. “Yes, I bet it was.”
“You Native Californian?”
PP smiles, “Kinda. I grew up here.”
“Yeah, me too, sorta. I actually was born in Brooklyn, then we moved to Penn, then to Calif, then back to NY, then to LA again. We hadda pool growing up. That was the life. Getting outta bed at 11 a.m., having your girlfriends come over, lounge around the pool all day. All the neighborhood kids would come over. Mom would bake cookies and make Kool-aid.” She sighs.
“Yup, those were the days.” she continues. “My mom was always a good sport about having all the kids over. But hey! Better to have your kids in your own back yard than running all over tarnation.”
She chuckles. PP tells her how her mom did the same. Tells of the kids that sat on the embankment above their pool, craning their necks over the fence, pining for an invite to join in the fun, till finally, PP’s mom told ‘em to come on over.
GN nods, “Well, you have a good rest of the day,” she float walks out of the tub. “Time for the Steam Room. I tell you, it’s like a Country Club here.”
PP laughs with her, watching her languid round middle-aged stroll weave around the pool to the locker room.
“We must be on the Same Path!” PP laughs as she spies GN getting dressed in the same aisle as her locker.
“I’m going to Grocery Outlet next. You headed there?” she chuckles.
“Nope, got my shopping done already.”
“Yeah, I decided to go after the Y. Otherwise, I got the cold stuff sitting in the car.”
“Yeah, my ice cream’s safe and sound in the freezer.”
PP decides this means that she likes ice cream. Even though the ensuing discussion of Edward Abbey and The Biochemical Blah Blah Blah of the Brain books belie a taste for sweets.
“So many books to read, so little time,” PP laughs through the cliché.
“But we still seem to find the time to watch TV.”
This also delights PP. So many Berkeleyites view TV as the next Anti Christ. “What do you watch on TV?” PP asks.
“Oh, I watch a lot of stuff. Lately it’s Dancing with the Stars.”
PP is beyond delight now. She loves DWTS? In Berkeley? But yet, this is what happens. These intellectuals, downing their carrot juice in mini Perrier bottles (GN had already shown PP this innovation), reading heady sciency non-fiction about the Brain, listing Steinbeck’s entire oeuvre, but yet, they still like DWTS!!!!
Only in Berkeley.
“My name’s Denise, by the way.”
PP almost keels over. Her name is Denise! How perfect is that! She’ll have to tell DL about this Berkeley Denise who adores Steinbeck, Ice Cream and DWTS.
Only in Berkeley!