Mr. Safeway

“One of these ladies will know the name of that plant!”

Regal in her rhinestone studded turban, she commands out into Utopia. DL and I settle on the bottom shelf, squeezing in below the two beauteous Asian Women swimmers. Are they a couple? Sisters? Friends? Hard to tell. But there’s a woman duo bond between them. They share a lane every Wednesday night. Both swim smooth and easy. Though one is phenomenal. Always ending with a flawless lap of butterfly.
Tonight, I’d felt so sorry for her. Standing on the deck, waiting for a lane as I tried to navigate my own lane of swimming mayhem with the mother son giggling dyad. “Is he coming back?” I’d asked the mom, beaming proudly as her son climbed out of the lane, clomping over to the kickboard stack, fins still on. “Oh, yes. He’s coming back,” she gushed, her eyes glistening with pride and sparkle. She then proceeded to take off in a leisurely breaststroke down the center of the lane, completely blocking my ability to pass her or swim at my own speed. Flawless Butterfly Woman stood forlornly watching. I couldn’t invite her to swim in my lane as much as I’d rather have her than Breaststroke middle of lane mom situation.

But it had all worked out in the end. The flock of screaming kids got out of the family side of the pool. The lifeguards opened another lane for Butterfly woman and her friend. And now, here we all were in Utopia with Plant Questioning Woman taking up all the air.

I glance over at the piece of cactus lying on the towel next to a trying not to giggle round woman. “It’s Aloe, I think,” I offer.

“THAT’s it! Aloe! I used to have that plant in my garden. Mr. Lowes and Mrs. Lowes. Mr. Safeway and Mrs. Safeway. Poooo Mr. Safeway....I used him. I abused him. I ignored the shit outta him. Pardon my French....."
Everyone is laughing now. I haven’t seen DL giggling like this in ages. Next to me, I can see her belly rock in wicked mirth. Her glasses nearly falling off her nose.

But…..what the hell is Safeway Woman talking about?

“I name all my plants after the stores wheres I got them. Lowes. Safeway, but oh, Mr. Safeway! He grow all crooked. I don’t offer him no stake in the ground. I just let him alone. And now….”

She shakes her head. It’s all so sad. Mr. Safeway musta come to a bad end. Which makes sense to me. Given how much I detest Safeway. I almost have a nervous breakdown every time I walk in that place. The lights. The beeps. The crowds. The low blood sugar. (I always go after swimming and am starving)

So, to me, it makes sense that if you name a plant after Safeway, well, hell, it’s not going to fare very well with such a moniker. It will wilt. And whither. And tilt. And tither.

“And I love me the Safeway down in Fremont. Ummmm. Ummm.. That Safeway, you know it? It’s off Fremont Blvd on the corner of (I space out, nodding, having no experience with the Fremont Safeway whatsoever). And then the one in Castro Valley. I tell you that one. It has a real good nursery. I think that’s where I got Mr. Safeway and Mrs. Safeway. She doin okay, but Mr. Safeway…..”

She heaves a giant sigh. The demise of Mr. Safeway weighing on her.

Then, slowly, the women rise and head out. The time now 9:43 PM and counting.

“Oh! It is Time to GO!” Safeway Woman announces. “I don’t think they like it if we get out of here late, now do they?”
“Nope,” I agree, moving aside so the Beauteous Asian Swimmers can sneak past me. Sigh. Why couldn’t I have shared a lane with those two tonight instead of mom and son?

But we did all share something in Utopia, right? The giggles were contagious. The energy in Utopia frothy and fun. This is why I continue to go through all the hassle to get here. The stupid lack of parking that brings me to tears. The mayhem in the pool that threatens my sanity. The ickee bathrooms with wet gunk on the floors.

Utopia and its women. This is why I come. And tonight, thanks to Safeway Woman, who seems to be a new addition to the scene, we all can share a giggle, a laugh, or a look of astonishment.
And bemoan the abuse of Mr. Safeway?

Not me, no siree. Mr. Safeway got what was coming to him! After all he's put me through!


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