That’s No Defense

“I do not swim in straight line.” With an elegant little shrug and a beautifully sheepish smile, the swimmer I’ve asked to share a lane with makes this announcement.
What can I say? This is a first. Sure lots of swimmers at the Y don’t swim in straight lines, but most won’t admit it. (Or don’t know it.)

On the other hand, how do I share a lane with a Crooked Swimmer?
I glanced over at the lane I’d just vacated that was now completely awash in Butterfly Testosterone Situation. I can’t go back there, and so, I just smile at Crooked Swimmer and say that it’s okay. I can swim around her.

She nods, then ventures off in a shaky floaty stroke.

Shaking my head, I follow her. She’s not moving fast, so if we do run into each other, well, we’re not gonna end up in the emergency room.

And we do run into each other. But this is later. For about 20 minutes, I think she’s making an attempt. I catch her at one point when turning at the wall and compliment her, “You’re not doing too bad with staying on your side,” I say.

Nodding, she gives a little smile frown. “You are so kind to say this. I think the lane it is very narrow.”

And yes, it is. All the more reason to make an effort right?

Which, like I said, she did, till oh I don’t know she got tired? She forgot I was there?

And so, we crashed gently into each other. “Oh sorry sorry,” she murmurs.

“It’s okay,” I nod, then try to get on with my swim. There’s only 20 minutes left and I’ve only done about 1200 meters. I’ll never finish at this pace.
Another crash. This time she doesn’t apologize. Just continues on, weaving up and down the lane.

I start to crack up as I glance over at Handsome Walking Man, who's been observing the situation, and is shaking his head.

“She did warn me that she doesn’t swim in a straight line,” I holler over at him.

He frowns, as he purposefully strides backwards, “That’s NO defense!”

I chuckle in delight. He’s right, of course. We are at the Downtown Oakland Y. It’s the middle of summer. The pool is crowded with the usual suspects of screeching children, butterfly guys, and clueless couples.

So, again, I do have to give Crooked Swimmer credit for warning me ahead of time. And the way she said it made me think how kinda strange it is anyway to ‘swim in a straight line’. In other parts of the world, they don’t swim laps. I’ll never forget the first time I swam at a public pool in China -- absolute anarchy mayhem prevailed. Children screaming and jumping into floaty toys. Couples jumping up and down and laughing in delight. Random swimmers just stroking wily nilly across the pool in all directions.
No one was trying to swim in a straight line.
Except for me.
And I quickly gave up and joined in the mayhem craziness that was swimming in China.

So tonight, I just had to laugh.
Sure, it’s no defense. We’re not in China after all.
But….for a little while as I swam around her, and then started and stopped, standing in amazement at her seeming obliviousness of her crooked swimming, I had to smile to myself.
Maybe I am swimming in China in Oakland.
At least for one night.
And that is Some Defense.


Ruth Jameson said…
It's not the straight line that counts, it's the Zen of Water...

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