Showing posts from 2013

The Next Mayor of Oakland!

“Sandy should be Mayor of Oakland,” DL announces, floating down Broadway after an evening of Utopia.

“That is an excellent idea!” P exclaims. “She would make a perfect Mayor of Oakland.”
DL nods as she unlocks Moondoggie’s passenger door, P climbing in for a last ride in DL’s 13 year old chariot.

Settling in, P muses about all the reasons Sandy should be Mayor of Oakland.

1. She is a member of the downtown Oakland YMCA
2. She is a swimmer
3. She has opinions

4. She used to be a travel agent
5. She knows how to navigate Utopia’s strangeness
6. She wears aqua and lavender leisure suits
7. She feels guilty about having a maid
8. She has a sense of humor that surprises
9. She is open to anyone and everyone
10. She vacations in Mexico
11. She has danced at her cotillion
12. She drives a big white car
13. She knows where to shop
14. She has a Greek husband/partner
15. She knows when to be silent
16. She wields a wide spray bottle
17. She reads the New Yorker on the Treadmill

18. She narrate…

Secret Santas

P watches in rapt fascination as Asian Towel-Headed Woman stands at the plastic bag dispenser machine. Methodically, forcefully, she pulls and pulls and pulls one after another after another of these plastic bags down, wrapping them around her fist into a giant plastic bag ball. With each pull of a bag, she gives a little grunt, her focus on her task, taking zero notice of P standing next to her staring.

“What the hell was she gonna do with all those plastic bags?” P asks DL a few minutes later as they exit the locker room, heading up the stairs to the torture machines.

“I dunno,” DL shakes her head, the mass of dark tresses creating a wave of puzzlement.
“I mean, is she gonna take them all home and use them as freezer bags? Or is she gonna pack up all of her socks and panties and such and preserve them from the elements? Or what?”
“Maybe she’s gonna use them for ice? You know how everyone in Utopia has those plastic bags of ice that they strategically place all over themselves?”

Hair by the Numbers

“Hey DL!” P yanks at another tangle before shoving a lock in DL’s face.
“Smell my hair! I used that Suave Coconut Conditioner yesterday and my hair still smells like it!”
DL takes an obligatory sniff, “I like that stuff.”
“Yeah, me too. At least the smell. It does have staying power that way. But it dries my hair out.”
“Yeah, I think so. Well, it’s hard to tell cuz swimmers have notoriously wrong dry hair anyway, but the Suave isn’t great for the moisturizing hair situation” (MHS).
She nods, “I never knew that. I use the shampoo and I thought it dried my hair out, but now that you mention it…..” DL’s voice trails off. Lost in Hair Moisture Reverie Situation (HMRS)? “What kind do you use instead that’s better for the moisture situation?”

“Well, I got some huge tubs of Tres Semme conditioner, but it’s shitty too. Of course, I won’t throw it out; I’m too cheap. I used to use Finesse, but then I dunno…..”
P yanks at another tangle as the YMCA girl comes swooping through the loc…

A Rubber Ducky?

P surveys the scene from the deck for a few minutes. Mayhem. Sigh. What the hell were the kids doing still in the pool at 8:45 at night? Didn’t they have school now? Why were they still here, preventing her from any hope of a decent swim?

All the lanes have at least two swimmers, if not three. P refuses to circle swim at the Oakland Y. It is hellacious beyond words.

Standing forlornly on the deck, clutching all of her equipment, she curses the Oakland Y. Damn damn damn I hate hate hate this pool! she mutters to herself.

Then, lo and behold, she spies a swimmer stopping, removing his cap, preparing to climb out. A lane! Yes! Quickly, she scurries over to grab it before another forlorn swimmer soul gets in ahead of her.

“Mind if I share your lane?” she asks the super swimmer guy.

Politely he lifts his goggles, revealing a beautiful set of handsome guy eyes. You know the kind? Where the lashes are long and lovely, but he’s still a guy?

“No problem,” he smiles, shooting out a killer s…

Panties in the Coal Mine

“What’s That over there in the corner?” P nods toward a mysterious square dark cloth laid out neat and flat on the top bench of Utopia.

“She’s drying it,” Sandy sighs, loudly. “I remember once I was at the Berkeley Y and this woman was drying her swimsuit in the sauna and I started to smell this horrible stench and said to her, ‘I think your Nylon is burning.’”

P and DL both chuckle. It’s a common theme in the women’s saunas of the YMCA. Women hanging their various clothing situations to dry.

“And these women that are always drying their panties in the sauna?” Sandy harrumphs, “I’d just toss a clean pair in my gym bag. Enough with the laundry at the Y.”

“Yeah,” P agrees, “I mean, how dry can those wet panties get in the sauna anyway?” P thinks about saggy droopy moisty panties and wrinkles her nose. But she has to laugh to herself about the Panty Theme for the day. That very morning, she’d been at a meeting, where the Chair of one of the Graduate Departments was going on and on about…

Yoshi and Baby Food

“Did you see that woman that just walked past?”
P cranes her neck to try to catch a glimpse of the woman Sandy’s pointing out. All she can spot is a bright orange and pink swimsuit?

“Was she in the pool?” P asks, thinking how she must have been. It seemed like the entire Y population had been in the pool that night! P had even ventured into the ‘walking lane’ and gotten away with it for 10 minutes since the lifeguard was in total “Bump on the Log Boredom Mode”. Then walkers had appeared and she’d had to move.
To circle swim with 4 swimmers! At the Oakland Y? Hell doesn’t even begin to describe it.
So, the pink suited woman might have been in the pool and P wouldn’t have noticed with all the circle swim mayhem.

Sandy shakes her head though, “No, I don’t think she swims.”
“Who is it?” another woman asks.
“Yoshi.” Sandy nods, calm and firm in her celebrity friendship sighting status.
“Yoshi, like in Yoshi’s?” P asks, confused. She’d never thought of “Yoshi” as a person, or if she had…


“There’s a lot of rocks here,” Ian comments as he struggles to don his fins and avoid the rocky bottom.
Yeah, I think and that’s not all, gazing out at the high surf that rolls and rolls across the sea of a normally calm Waikiki.
But this week was Flossie. The tropical ‘depression’ that had hit Oahu a couple of days earlier. I’d been so eager to come to this beach and swim in the smooth warm ocean, floating in the soft sea as Diamond Head loomed over my shoulder.

But no chance of this today. The sea was high, and when we’d arrived earlier, I’d had my doubts that we’d even venture in. Of course there were tons of the ubiquitous surfers; but these were locals, presumably, that knew what they were doing. Knew this beach and these rocks and the vagaries of these waves.

Sure I’d been swimming here before, but not in these kinds of conditions. The times before, this ocean had been smooth and calm. Perfect for swimming laps parallel to the shore or snorkeling slowly to visit the fishes.



“How’s the bathroom?”
Ian shrugs, “The usual.”
I nod. Why the hell doesn’t Hawaii clean its public restrooms? It’s Paradise in every other way, but the bathrooms?
I rise from my shady view of the lovely sea, snorkelers dotting the surface, the clouds floating over the blue grey sky. I do need to use the restroom, but…..
Sighing, I venture over.
Poke my head in first, the dark, dank, sandy, cave of the public elimination situation.
It is unusable.
Now. I know I’m a bit squeamish, but hell, I did travel and live in China. I think I’m pretty tough when it comes to bathrooms, but….today?
I simply can’t.
I will spare my more squeamish readers the terrifying details.
Use your imagination.
Or not.

“I can’t use this bathroom,” I announce.
“That’s too bad,” Ian points to the sea, “it looks like there’s a lot going on out there. It’d be nice to swim here.”
We’re up past Sunset Beach, at Pupukea beach, in Oahu's North Shore area. The sea is calm in the summer and I long t…


“Is That yours?” P nods toward the mysterious orange lotion in the shadows. She had noticed it when Retrieval Woman had left the sauna. The bottle was enticing. P likes to steal product left behind at the gym even though this goes against the Y’s Core Values. Maybe because it’s against these values?

No, P just likes free stuff. So she’d been eying the orange lotion when RW had reentered the sauna and claimed her elixir.

Laughing softly, RW shakes her head, a strong accent (Russian? Czech? Something Eastern European?) accompanying her embarrassed reply. “Yes, it is mine. I have it for my Fat Stomach.” She giggles strangely. “It gets fatter everyday. I eat a lot of bread and.....”

Her voice trails off as P nods, wondering how the Orange Lotion fits in with Bread Overindulgence.

“Do you swim?” P asks, knowing that she doesn’t but it seems like a good topic to bring up in light of the Fat Stomach Situation.

RW shakes her head, “Oh, no. I do not swim.”

“That’s too bad,” P replies, thoug…


It’s summer at the YMCA and every day is a battle. In the pool. In the locker room. P must be strategic if she hopes to win a lane. A hairdryer. A little piece of her sanity.

“You know,” Janet sidles over to the sink where P attempts to yank a chlorine saturated tangle out, “I was at the pool yesterday, and all the kids had just come in, and the lifeguard was there and I said to him, “Oh the sweet sound of children!” She giggles softly as the baby sitting on the locker room floor lets out another uncensored wail. Mom is busy with big brother and Little Bro is having none of it.

“WHHHHAAAAAA!!!!!” he shrieks as if someone has murdered his puppy in cold blood on the floor directly in front of him.

Janet has moved back over to the sink, drying her hands after a wash, when the giggles start to tumble out. P can’t help but join in. They laugh and laugh and laugh.

Wailer Baby stops for a moment. Stunned? Distracted? He stares at the two women, his big brown eyes moist with tears, before op…