Sunday, July 29, 2012


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 of reassurances to herself that this was Lap Swim time. Till 7:30. No such untoward situations should arise.

But yet....

As she hopped into the pool, she couldn’t quite shake her uneasiness. In spite of her Elation around the Geo. In spite of the present peace that prevailed.

It happened.

Slowly at first. She noted a small family. Mom, Dad and kid. Mom wearing her Hijab in the pool, climbed in first. Giggling as her clothes became saturated, she slowly started walking down the non-lane lined side of the pool.

Not lap swimmer was she. (PP had every confidence that no way could Mom do 20 laps.)
Then Dad climbed in while the kid just raced back and forth on the deck, from the equipment storage unit to the side of the pool, handing his parents kickboards, pull buoys, and floaty units. Laughing, screaming and running (Hey, wasn’t there ‘no running’ on deck?)

Okay, she thought. Maybe the kid was just gonna hang out on the deck while the parents did their ‘laps.’

After all the equipment had been procured, the kid jumped in, screeching on cue.

PP stopped swimming her laps in mid-lane. Glances up at the Clueless Lifeguard who’s sitting dully on her stand.
“Excuse me” PP calls to her. “But isn’t it Lap Swim right now?”
Clueless stares at her, her look saying what? Huh? It’s Lap Swim? Was it only perplexity? Or was it stupidity? Or even fear?

She doesn’t answer PP but goes and gets her co-worker, a Guy, of course, who stands over PP, arrogance oozing out of his tattoos.

“It’s Lap Swim now, right?” PP repeats. “There’s not supposed to be families in the pool till 7:30. (It was 5:30 at this time)
Arrogance Tattoo Guard shakes his head. “There’s not a lot of people here. She (Clueless Guard) didn’t know. You’ve got your own lane.”

PP starts to shake, standing in the water. And it’s not from the cold. “The fact that I have my own lane, at least for now, is beside the point. The schedule says it’s Lap Swimming and so therefore, everyone should be swimming laps, and no kids are allowed. I plan my entire day around this schedule. I don’t understand why you don’t honor the schedule. What’s the point of having a schedule if you don’t adhere to it?”

“Hey, Lady. Chill out!” Nosy Walker Man stops in the lane next to PP to admonish her for her unreasonableness, shaking a scrawny finger in her face. It takes every ounce of PP’s control not to yell, “Fuck you!” But she refrains, knows when she’s being ganged up on.

And the fact that it’s two men against one woman does not escape her notice.

ATG continues, empowered by Nosy Walker Man’s support? “The Lifeguard has the authority to make changes to the schedule. When there’s not a lot of swimmers swimming laps then it’s up to the Lifeguard’s discretion to let in rec swimmers. If you read the fine print, you’ll see that.”

“Are you Fucking For REAL?” PP wants to scream this, but again, doesn’t. Why not?
At this point, she’s afraid that she’s going to be kicked out of the pool for causing a disturbance. Even though she’s right.

Because, no way does it say anywhere on the schedule that Lifeguards have the Authority to make Capricious changes to the Lap Swimming hours. She did check later.

Later she’d told this story to the Lovely I, who’d been suitably incensed. “What is it with Young Pricks treating middle aged women like this?” She proceeded to share her own such experience with a YP at her camera store treating her like she didn’t know what she was talking about, how she was making up the problem, the general tone being, Lady you are a pain and you don’t matter and we’re not gonna listen to you and what are you gonna do about it?

And that’s just it.

There’s nothing that PP could do about this Pool Situation at this point, but back away. Still shaking, she dove under the water, swimming as hard as she could to get away from Young Prick.

Being a middle-aged woman is hard enough what with your loss of estrogen, youth and sex appeal. And this is precisely why, PP thinks, that middle-aged women get treated like they’re invisible. Because they are.

Sure she’d heard this before—it seems so cliché and dramatic.
Yet, in fact, her experience this week proved the cliché to be true.

And so, she did finish her swim, but her shaking didn’t stop until she got out, stood under the shower, and then lay down in the sauna for a good long while.

She was hot now. And more than a little bothered.

Chill out?

PP has a long way to go before she’ll ‘chill out.’

Young Pricks beware. Esp. if she can prevail upon the Lovely I to join her at Hilltopia.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Part I.

“It used to be that you had to be able to swim 20 laps in order to be allowed in the lap lanes.”

Super Swimmer 8:30 Man shakes his head, then grins. “I remember when I used to bring my son here.....they wouldn’t let him in the lap lanes cuz he couldn’t swim the 20 laps. Later, of course,” he chuckles, “he could out swim me....”

PP nods, intently interested, “That’s very interesting. Evidently, that rule no longer applies.”

She’d been telling him about her unbelievably hellacious experience earlier that evening. How’d she’d arrived and all the lap lanes were full. Not with lap swimmers, but goddamn rec swimmers lolling about. Floating on kick-boards. Flailing with bar bells. Giving swim lessons.

“I’m just giving her a swim lesson,” one self-righteous Pool Cow had harrumphed at PP when PP had tried to explain to her that in order to be in the lap lanes, she and her two friends needed to swim laps, translation, up and down and up and down and up and down the lane without stopping. Hence the name, “Lap Lanes.” PP hadn’t included this last snide obviousness, but it had been on the tip of her tongue.
PP had actually had to stop in the middle of the lane; she couldn’t swim any farther cuz the ‘swim lesson’ was blocking the lane. Signaled dramatically to the lifeguard. Who completely ignored her.

Fortunately, another Lifeguard was on it. Nodded to her, “I’ll just try to get them all in the same lane.”

Yes, the swim lesson group was taking up 2 of the 3 lanes. He asked them to move. They ignored him. “Hablo Espanol?” he tried.

“Hey! I speak English!” Swim Instructor Cow hollered back at him. “I was born in this country.”

Shit, PP thinks, now it’s become a political matter to get the stupid cows to move outta the lap lanes.

PP tried to talk to one of the swim ‘students’. “You need to move out of this lane,” she insisted. Swim Student looked right through her. Maybe she wasn’t born in this country? Maybe she didn’t speak English?

Maybe PP was gonna slap her if she didn’t get out of the lap lane pronto!

Fortunately, Native English Speaker Teacher finally did. Lumbering slowly under the lane line and into the next lane with the Teacher.

Relieved, PP started to swim down the lane and then back again. A Real Swimmer asks if he can share her lane. “Sure,” she nods, actually relieved to share a lane with someone that knows how to swim laps.

She swims a few hundred yards, thinking the worst is over. Till, damn. Two Lolling Girls on kick-boards had now entered her lane and were floating right in front of her. PP almost considers running into them, but thinks better of it. She’s into confrontation at this point, but not of the physical nature.

“Excuse me,” she seethes, “You need to swim laps here.”

One of the Kick-board Girls gives her a look like PP is a piece of cat shit floating in the pool. “I AM swimming laps,” she stares into PP, daring her to contradict her.

PP does.

“The hell you are,” she shouts.

Kick-board Girl shrugs and starts to float down the lane in front of PP, blocking her swim completely.
Damn. What the hell was she gonna do?
She waves at the Lifeguard now.
He completely ignores her.
She stands in the middle of the pool, slapping the water in frustration, seething at the injustice of it all.

She is invisible.

Why the hell do they even have lap lanes if the lifeguards aren’t going to enforce the practice of swimming laps in them?


Miraculously, the lane next to PP empties out. She pops under the lane line and starts swimming furiously, leaving Kick-board Bitch to float along, swimming ‘laps.”

Later, when PP tells Super Swimmer 8:30 Man about all of this and he tells her about the 20 lap rule, she can’t believe that she even got a swim in.

When she tells him about how the Lifeguard was completely unresponsive to the point of ignoring her pleas, SS 8:30 grins broadly when she pointed out the guard. “Oh, that guy? He’s a Chicken.”

PP laughs. Yup, this is so true. He is a ‘Chicken.”
And when she’d told him about the bitches on the kick-boards, he nods, “They give you Attitude, right?”
“Yeah, I’ve had that happen to me too.”

This made PP feel a little better. Sometimes she thinks she gets treated the way she does because she’s a petite middle-aged white woman: Attitude Girls can have their way with her. Not that it was OK for them to give SS 8:30 Man Attitude too. It was just somehow reassuring that it wasn’t just her. They behaved like they owned the pool with everyone, middle aged white women, fit Asian Men, Goddamn Chicken Lifeguards.

It was an equal opportunity Attitude Blanket in the pool at Hilltopia.

At least PP got a swim in. This night. Tuesday.

Friday, was another story.....

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Manhattans & Frank

“How’s your summer goin, Sandy?” PP asks as she settles onto her favorite top corner.

It’s late at Utopia. DL and PP have just entered into its heated sanctuary. Ahhh....quiet. At last.....

“I’m enjoying the long evenings,” Sandy sighs, satisfied and relaxed. Unlike PP. She’s just survived, and yes that’s the only verb for it, what might be the Most Mayhem Swim of the summer. So far. Usually, Oaktown’s lap swimming was an issue, but tonight, the ‘family swim’ had been Pure Pandemonium. 1000’s of small screaming children splashing, flailing, screeching, their parents encouraging such obnoxiousness in wild abandon.

“Yeah, they’re so nice...” DL agrees wistfully, lying down and sighing.
“Well, at least there’s something nice about summer!” PP jokes.
“What do you mean?” Sandy’s alert now. How could there possibly be anything bad about summer? And usually PP would agree. Till she tried to swim tonight.

“The pool,” PP answers, shaking her head. “What I don’t understand is all the little little kids in the pool at fucking 9:30 at night. Hell, when we were that age, we were in bed by 9:00 even it were light out.”

“I hear you there!” Sandy snorts. “That wraps my panties up into a wad too! We were always in bed early, even in the summer.”
“Yeah, I mean, I hated it, but.....”

“Our parents had their priorities straight. Put the kids to bed and mix up the Manhattans.”

PP and DL crack up.

“Yeah,” PP agrees, “I mean, I don’t think my parents drank Manhattans, I think it was some brown alcohol, like J&B or Cutty Sark ---at least those are the bottles I remember.”

Sandy nods, “It was a different time. My parents would invite their friends over, usually other couples, and they’d pour the Manhattans and the party would start.”

”Put on the Frank Sinatra and dance!” PP laughs, remembering how Frank permeated her childhood: My Way; Fly Me to the Moon; I Get a Kick Out of You.

She grins as the lyrics float into her consciousness:

I get no kick from champagne.
Mere alcohol doesn’t thrill me at all
So tell me why should it be true?
That I get a kick outta you!

It definitely was a different time. What did parents listen to now? PP had no clue. She was so far removed from the music of Oakland families. Maybe they just came to the pool. Well, obviously, half of Oakland did at least! And while, PP is all for kids swimming, hell she was a kid once who adored swimming with her family, she didn’t do it at 9:30 at night when she was 5 years old.

Nope. When she was 5 years old at 9 p.m. on a summer night, she and her sisters would lie in bed, the light still filtering through the drapes, the sounds of kick the can and random shrieks echoing from outside.

And Frank.
Always Frank.

Fly me to the moon
Let me swing among those stars
Let me see what spring is like On Jupiter and Mars

In other words, hold my hand
In other words, baby, kiss me

PP could use a dose of Frank right about now.
Maybe when she gets home, she’ll get him out, put him on, and do just a little dance.....
For summer.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

That Video

“Hey, PP, did you get a chance to watch That Video I was telling you about?”

Dropping the paper towel into the trash, Gladys (aka Friendly Asian Water Walker) showers PP with a warm happy face.

Laughing softy, PP shakes her head as she rolls her suit up in her yellow towel and gathers up her lotions from the bathroom sink. “No, not yet. Glad you reminded me.”

It comes back to PP immediately. The Video. The first time Gladys told her about it, PP had just walked out on the pool deck, gritting her teeth as she surveyed the Mayhem swim lesson scene floating before her.

One lane actually had a sign posted in front of it, 'Lesson in Progress', where the usual little boy in Hawaiian print trunks was diving for plastic rings with his young, patient teacher in tow. Dad, for some reason this day, was following the two of them up and down the lane, mask and wet suit on, not swimming or talking. Just watching? This is what parents do, PP knows, but it added yet another body to the already crowded pool.

The usual kids section was full of adults, well, maybe not full, but for Hilltopia, having a cluster of 5 or 6 adults flailing about in half the pool was annoying. Not as annoying as a pool full of screaming children, but the mere fact that the pool wasn’t just for ‘lap swimming’ when this is what was posted on the schedule....

Well, you’ve all heard her whine about this before.

So, when Gladys waved a cheery ‘Hi PP!” from the walking lane and then started babbling to PP about some video on Comcast about "a ... reporter....." well, PP couldn’t really hear her. She had her earplugs in on top of being distracted by the mayhem. And so, she didn’t even try to understand all that the video was about.

Today, then, when Gladys asked her again, PP assured her that she’d check it out. “I think you’ll really enjoy it,” Gladys enthused, grinning as she bent to unpack her large gym bag.

“What was it called again?” PP asks.

Gladys frowns, pausing for a moment. “Something like Cat Starved for Attention Climbs on Reporter”.’ She giggles. “It’s on Comcast. Do you get Comcast?”
PP shakes her head.
“Oh, yeah, that’s right. You said that yesterday.”
“Can I see it on You Tube?”
“Oh, probably. Yeah. You could check You Tube. Do you like animals?”

“Well, there’s this video on You Tube about a Beluga.”
“What’s that?”
She grins at PP in amazement. “You don’t know what a Beluga is?”
“Uh, no....”

“It’s one of those whales with the big white foreheads shaped like this....” She makes a sweeping motion over her dark head.

“Oh, yeah. Of course, I know what you’re talking about,” PP laughs.

“I knew you did. Anyway there was a baby one up in Alaska and someone an Animal Rescue Person saw it swimming around and around frantically without its mom and so they called in some help and were able to capture it and save it. They even had to call in a Needle Natal Expert no....not that Neo Natal... That's hard to say!” She starts giggling uncontrollably. "Oh, you know what I mean!"

“Yeah, I do," PP grins, trying to dispel her embarrassment over the Neo Tongue Twister. "That's lucky for the baby whale. So cute.... Did you see the front page of the Chronicle’s Book Review today?”

She shakes her head no.

“Well, there’s a new book out, I can’t remember the name, but it’s about a baby Monk Seal that was rescued from abusive parents in Oahu and how this woman, a marine biologist..... Terrie Williams, I think was her name, brought it to her situation in Santa Cruz and wrote a book about it. So cute.”
“That is cute,” Gladys agrees. “The book review?” she then asks, puzzled. “You mean inside the Insight?”
“Yeah, that’s it.”

PP knows that many people don’t read the book review. In fact many people don’t read books at all. They just watch videos and Comcast. Nothing wrong with that.

Except there is.

Isn’t there? If no one read books then the world would be such a desolate place. Why, PP just finished reading Night Shift by Maritta Wolff. It took her to a world of ordinary desperation in Americana 1940 something. Three sisters all living their lives and losing their dreams and finding their happiness and carrying on in their own private hells.

PP never wanted it to end.

She needs this kind of escape to these other fictional worlds where her imagination can settle in and bask in this alternate universe. Without books, big novels in particular, why she’d just be.... she'd be......


Yet, talking with Gladys this afternoon about the book review it did strike her that she probably didn’t read the book review or many books for that matter. Now why PP has this presumption she can’t really say. Gladys seems like an intelligent, thoughtful person. And she’s retired. Lots of time to read!

But yet, whenever she chats with her, it’s about what?

Sports (Did you catch the US open today?)
Traveling (Have you been to Yosemite?)
Gambling (My brother has a real problem)

Frankly this last one was by far the most interesting tidbit of chatting. Why there's a start to a novel most definitely.

And of course, it’s just pool chatter. You can’t really have an in-depth conversation with earplugs in and mayhem without.

Hell, though, what difference does it really make? If people read more, and spent less time time watching cat videos, would the world really be a better place?

Hell yeah!

Or is it the other way around? If people watched more cat videos and read less then.... PP has to admit that she can become obsessed with the cat videos on You Tube.

What did they all do before You Tube?

Read more?


Today, though, PP is gonna check out the Cat Seeking Attention Video on Comcast.

That is if she can get it on You Tube.