“I am a Good Person! I give to Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. I give to AIDS research. I am a Good Person!”
“OK, OK, you Good Person. Now go! She want to relax. Close the door.”
Penelope has stumbled into a Situation. She’s not really in the mood. She’s cold and tired after her 52 minutes in the pool where it was more cold than not. She just wants to lie down in the Hilltopia Sauna and get warmed up. But there is an altercation.
And it’s not pretty.
Good Person continues to stand in the doorway of the sauna, the door wide open, allowing all the cold locker room air to come whooshing into the sauna.
Good Person is upset. Penelope has snuck in past her, crawling up onto the top shelf to try to get warm as the altercation rails on.
“I told you I was sorry!” Good Person edges into the sauna, continuing to leave the door open. “I was having a Bad Day.”
“Okay, Okay, you’re sorry. You having a Bad Day. I understand. Okay. You can go now. She trying to relax.”
Penelope’s not sure that she wants to be the impetuous for Good Person to leave. Good Person continues to block the open doorway, her wet tee shirt dripping on the floor, her square pale body shivering. From the cold? From anger? Frustration? What had she done?
“You go now!” Incensed Woman waves her away. “See?” She points to Penelope. “She want to relax. You leave now.”
Good Person backs out of the sauna. Shuts the door. Shuffles over to the sinks. From her vantage point inside the sauna, Penelope can see through the window to the solid white square form of her, leaning over the sinks, shaking her head. Then standing very still. It's a little eerie. Penelope wonders if she’s going to start screaming.
“She cuss at me!” Incensed Woman hollers over to Penelope, her voice booming loud. Emotion high. “She come into the locker room, she take her clothes and she.....” The words elude her. She makes a wringing motion, like squeezing water out of a swimsuit. “The water. It go all over the floor. Why she do that? Don’t she know that she not suppose to do that? I tell her she not suppose to do that. She get water all over the floor. And she start to CUSS at me.”
Incensed Woman shakes her head. “I no like that. I can not have her cuss at me. So I call upstair. They come down. They tell her she can not cuss at me. They apologize to me. But she still mad. You see?” She waves toward Good Person, who’s headed back toward the sauna. She’s heard the rant.
Flinging the door open, Good Person blocks the doorway once again, her breath coming hard and fast. “I told you I was having a Bad Day. I told you I was sorry. Why can’t you forgive me? Why can’t you be my friend? I am a good person. I give to the Jerry Lewis Muscular......”
Good Person repeats verbatim her good works. Incensed Woman shakes her head, glances over at Penelope before launching into her rebuttal.
“Okay, okay. You are Good Person. I forgive you. Why can’t you understand? You are my friend. Okay? You go away now. She want to relax.”
Good Person never glances at Penelope. It’s as if Penelope doesn’t exist, even though she’s a main sub point of argumentation for Incense Woman’s Tirade.
“I was having a Bad Day. I said I was sorry....” Good Person stares at IW for several seconds. IW doesn’t back down. “Okay, okay, go away now. I forgive you.”
Something finally clicks. Good Person nods, backs out of the sauna, and closes the door.
IW sighs, shaking her head, sidles closer to Penelope. “I think she have Mental Problem, you know? I think there is something wrong in her head.” IW knocks on her wet skull with a petite fist, demonstrating the point of Mental Instability with Good Person.
Penelope nods, “Yeah, maybe....” She’s not really sure what to say. IW seems to have a Mental Problem too. Two Mental Problem Women in the same Sauna---not a relaxing combination.
“I can not have someone Cuss at me, you know?” IW continues, settling back into her dark corner.
”Yes, well, that’s a bit distressing,” Penelope offers. Because it must have been, but what was the cussing exactly? “***&&&KKK you C****@@@ I will wring water all over the floor if I ^^^&&& please. So F***&&& off!”
Somehow, Penelope can’t imagine Good Person going off like this, having observed her in the pool, water walking, for a couple of years now. She always had seemed a bit off, but many members of the YMCA seemed this way. Good Person always wore the white tee shirt, chewed gum, and walked staunchly back and forth in the lane, not interacting with anyone that Penelope can recall, but then again, Penelope was always swimming and didn’t really pay that much attention to the water walkers.
“She got kicked out of Oakland YMCA,” IW continues.
“Really?” Penelope tries to remember if she’s ever seen Good Person at the Oakland Y, but can’t recall ever spying her there.
“Yes. So now she come here. Her daughter pay for her to come here. It’s expensive.”
Penelope nods. So Good Person has a daughter, one that believes in the YMCA’s aqua benefits for her mother. The plot thickens. Penelope wants to ask about the daughter, but doesn’t get a chance.
“I just got this swimsuit yesterday. It’s a one piece. I don’t like two-piece. Do you?”
Penelope laughs softly, “No, I prefer the one piece.”
“I don’t like the two piece. This is a one piece,” IW repeats.
Jumping at the opportunity of actually finding someplace that sells swimsuits in January, Penelope decides to take a chance, “Where did you get it?”
“In El Cerrito?”
”No, in San Pablo. You know by the Casino.”
“Oh, yes....I think I know where you mean....” Penelope murmurs, wondering if she should really trust IW to direct her to swimsuit shopping destinations. But she did have a suit on and it did look fairly new, not the usual drooping ones that prevail in January.
“I am a Good Person,” the door has popped open again. Good Person pants heavily.
IW sighs, loudly. “I know I know. You Good Person. Now go away.”
“I was having a Bad Day.”
Penelope thinks it’s time to take a shower. She can’t handle another Exchange Repetition Situation.
“I know I know.”
“You forgive me? I said I was sorry.”
“Yes, yes, I forgive. Now go.”
And she did.
Penelope has no idea. But she's gonna check out the San Pablo Ross tomorrow. She may not be a Good Person, having never given money to the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, but she does know when to take advantage of a situation. Esp. when it involves a new swimsuit.
One piece that is.