“Time out! Time out!” The little round gnome of a man waddles toward me. Out of the pool now, he hollers and grins, his squashed Santa-like visage all crinkles and sprinkles.
What’s he talking about? I wonder as I perch on the edge of the deck, feet in the water, preparing my cap, mask and earplugs for my swim.
I glance over at Ian, who’s already in the pool. He’s giving me the Big Grin. It’s the Theater of the Pool. All the deck’s a stage!
“I saw you coming,” Time Out Santa huffs at me, getting closer and closer to my sacred prep spot on deck. Giggling, I nod, again wondering why he’s so excited. Why is he yelling ‘time out’ at me? Do I need a time out? Isn’t that what frustrated moms yell at their kids when they’ve been brats? “Matilda! Stop biting your brother! Time out!” And Matilda pouts. The brother beams. The mom shakes her head as she drags Matilda over to the corner of the room, away from her brother and all biting temptations.
I could actually use a time out. Maybe not in the bratty child meaning, but in general. It’d be nice to have some time out. To just you know, hang out. Do nothing. Stare at the wall. Or the sky. Lie on my back in the green green grass and stare at the clouds. Float in the sea in Waikiki. Watching the little fishies swimming under me.
Yet, I don’t think that this is Time Out Man’s meaning. Though, frankly I can’t really figure it out. And don’t try now as I need to get in the pool before I freeze to death.
“I saw you coming,” he repeats, close to me now. I see his grizzled white whiskers and bright blue eyes close up. He’s very excited. Why?
Not knowing how to respond, I just nod, continue tucking my hair in my cap.
“The lane….” he grins. “It’s all yours!”
“Oh….thanks,” I smile, the giggles starting to bubble up. Why is he so funny? Is it the way he waddled over to me, flailing his arms about and yelling ‘Time out’? Why is this so funny? Maybe it’s the non sequitur aspect of the hailing? Maybe it’s his appearance? So round and crinkly and St. Nickly.
I dunno. But I can’t stop giggling and Ian, I can see outta the corner of my eye, is laughing too.
“It’s my favorite lane….” I offer, slipping on a big fin.
“Me too!” he confides, winking at me. “I have to pee a lot.”
The lane is the closest one to the locker rooms, yes, but….the pool is small. All the lanes are pretty close to the locker rooms. And…do I need this intimate bladder condition divulgement? I mean, I can relate. I have to pee a lot, too. But hell, I’m not gonna tell Time Out Man this. Is this what Time Out means? It’s time to get out cuz he hasta pee?
Later in the Prius on our way to Safeway, Ian speculates that it was just this meaning, “It’s the bad English shorthand,” he ventures, beginning his usual circular analysis speculation. “He probably meant it was time for him to get out, and so he just says, “Time out’ meaning time for me to get out when you and I might say It’s time for me to get out and…..”
“Yeah,” I agree, kinda understanding, “you’re probably right.”
But with Time Out Man, there was a part of me that felt somehow blessed. That the ‘Time Out’ was some sort of special permission bestowed upon me. My favorite lane was vacated just for me. And Time Out Man had made it possible.
And isn’t this just a most wonderful bestowment? Your favorite lane just handed to you with no strings attached? All Time Out Man wanted was to give me a treat. My favorite lane. Free and clear.
Time Out, indeed!
I needed that!