Saturday, September 16, 2017

3 Scenes.....

“Arrrggghhhh! Too hot!” DL hisses, pulling her big toe back out of the hot tub, grimacing.
“Yeah,” I agree, “it does feel really hot today. Even for me.”
Botticelli woman floats blissfully in my favorite corner, a beatific smile edging out, nods toward the temperature gauge, “They took the needle away.”

DL and I both nod. The needle that tells the temperature has been gone for weeks.
“So, you have to believe yourself,” Botticelli Woman advises. “Or not.”
We both laugh. “Do you believe yourself?” I ask DL.
She shakes her head, “Never.”

Everyone laughs as another woman enters, serene until she too feels the too hot water. “It’s HOT!” she exclaims.

“Yes, it is,” we all agree.
DL is perched on the side of the tub, her large brown eyes sparkling.
“Do you wanna go in the sauna?” I ask her.
She nods.
We do. I notice BW woman heave herself out. Her pale skin is bright red. Like a wrinkled overripe tomato at the end of its lifespan.
That hot tub really is too hot! But like Sandy said, last week, "They took the needle away so we can’t complain.”
I like to complain, so the lack of a needle wouldn't stop me. But I honestly don't care. Besides, I got a scene out of it. So there's that.

***
As we enter Utopia, Sandy's holding court as usual. “I’m glad that worked out for you, M. You deserve it.”
M nods, stumbles out of the sauna.
“Hello Ladies,” Sandy greets us.
“Hey, Sandy, how’s it going?” I ask.
“You really wanna know?”

We all laugh. “How was the pool?” she asks me.
“Well, there was a bit of a minor miracle tonight.”
“Do tell,” she says as DL plants herself on the bottom shelf, her hearing ear at the ready.
“I walked out onto the deck and the pool was full. Every lane had at least 2 people and some had 3 circle swimming.”
“Oh, joy,” Sandy harrumphs, leaning toward me for the story.
“Yeah, so I asked the lifeguard who was ready to get out. You know, cuz supposedly he’s paying attention…..”
“Lemme guess, he had no clue.”
“Yup. How’d you know?”
“Swimmer’s intuition.”

We all chuckle. I continue, “But back to the shocker. He told me that he’d move a slow swimmer out of the fast lane and then I could have her lane to split with this speedy cute guy.”
“Really?” Sandy nodded, impressed.
“Yeah, I was shocked. So it worked out. But it was crowded. The lanes are so narrow. I’m always afraid that someone is gonna kick me.”
“I hear you there! And let me tell you, if someone kicked me, okay, I could deal if it’s in my side or my leg, but if they kick me in the teeth? There’s gonna be a problem. And not just a problem with my teeth, but a problem with the lifeguard! You know what I mean?”
“Oh, yeah!” I grin as DL’s belly mirth starts to rise.

“Our friends from Southeast Asia, no offense, but they all learn to swim by doing the breaststroke and their kicks….well, let me just say, if one of them kicked me, there’d be hell to pay.”
We all chuckle and I think to myself, Did she just make an offhand racist remark about the swimming styles of Southeast Asians? I’m not sure. It could just be an observation she’s made over the years, and though I’ve never thought about it, she could be right. Though what about the two beautiful Korean women who swim like dolphins in the sea? Or are they not the Southeast Asian population she’s referring to? Where is Korea anyway? Is it considered part of Southeast Asia? Which countries are? I need to google that and get back to you…..
My sense of geography is haphazard at best.


***

“THE TIME IS NOW 10 O’CLOCK PM AND THE DOWNTOWN OAKLAND Y IS CLOSED!!! PLEASE GATHER YOUR BELONGINGS AND MAKE YOUR WAY UPSTAIRS. THANK YOU FOR BEING MEMBERS AND GUESTS OF THE DOWNTOWN OAKLAND Y!!!!”

Again, the hellish blaring intercom. Why? DL covers her ears. Sandy and M shake their heads. I grin. “Can’t they just turn down the volume?” I ask.
“Evidently not,” Sandy sighs as she slips on her white sweat pants, draws the string closed.

M stands next to her, her intense conversation about Oakland homeless encampments interrupted by the stupid intercom.
“You’d think that after just one complaint,” M holds up her index finger, waves it at all of us. It is the number 1. “….that they’d fix it.”
We all nod and laugh. Right. Like one complaint would fix anything at the downtown Oakland Y. or 10 complaints. Or 100.
Like Sandy said a few weeks ago, “They’re immune to complaints.” Which goes back to the missing needle in the hot tub. Complaining would not fix the situation.

I gather up the last of my stuff, cram it in my gym bag, heave it up into my arms, head out of the lockers. “See you next time,” I call out, DL waves.

“Yes, Ladies, see you next week,” Sandy says. M waves and nods.

Are we a member of her club yet? I hope so!
I’ll let you know next week for the next installment of Poolpurrs. Meanwhile, I'm going to file the umpteenth complaint about the intercom system. And the lack of the needle to gauge the hot tub temp. And....

Nah, just kidding. No complaints from me about the Downtown Oakland Y.
After all, it is Utopia....

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Pool toys, Pringles and Cockroaches

“The water main went out at my Club the other day so I had to swim here,” Sandy sighed, spritzing herself with a healthy squirt from her Utopian Spray bottle to cool down.
“How’d that go?” I ask.
“It was fine. Until I hit something with my hand.”
“What do you mean?”
“At first I thought it was a kickboard, or the lane line, but then when I stopped to assess, I saw it was a toy.”
I laugh. “Yeah, they like toys in the pool at the downtown Oakland Y.”
“Which is fine, but not in my lane. I had half a mind to pick it up and fire it over at the lifeguard.”
“Like he would have even noticed.”
“Exactly,” Sandy shook her head, leaned back into the hot wall. DL was below. I could see the belly laugh in its silent giggle.

“I noticed tonight that the swimmer next to me, in the lane next to the family chaos section, was just swimming through the toys," I start in. "At one point a pretty pink ball was blocking his way and he just plowed right through it, not missing a stroke. I was very impressed. I would have stopped. Hailed the lifeguard. Thrown the ball back at the kids. Yelled that the toys belonged in that side of the pool. Etc. etc. etc. Like it would have even mattered, right?”
Sandy and DL both chuckle. “Yeah, I hear you…," Sandy said.

There was a moment of heated repose before Sandy began again. “Did you see all of those signs to bring your friends and family last Sunday for Labor Day?”
“Oh, yeah, I think so,” I said, still thinking of the swimmer with the pink ball.
“Well, when I went to my usual situation where my locker is there was a family and I’m tellin’ you they had a goddamn picnic going on.”
“Really?” I encourage.
“Yup. They had quite a spread: sandwiches, fruit….Pringles.”
“Pringles?” I crack up, noting that DL does too.
“Yes, and so when I went to open my locker, hell if I was gonna move away to get dressed, I told them, “You know, there are cockroaches in this place.”
DL bursts out laughing. I join in. “Cockroaches!” I exclaim.
“Yup.”
“And what was their response?” I ask between mirthful breaths.
“Nothing. They just shrugged and continued their picnic. It didn’t faze them at all.”
“I’m not surprised. But cockroaches. That is disgusting!”

“Exactly,” Sandy nodded. “One time, I just got a plastic bag and positioned it over a roach, scooped it up and took it upstairs to the Powers that Be and said, ‘Here you go. What are you gonna do about it?’”
“And they got right on the case, right?” I joked.
“Yup,” Sandy sighed loudly.

“I can’t believe you actually captured one in a plastic bag.”
“Hawaii. They’ve got bugs there,” Sandy responded, Hawaiian native and seasoned bug capturing pro that she was. And I remembered how once, when I was staying at this hippy dippy place in Kailua, I heard this huge ‘thunk’ in the middle of the night and when I turned on the light, there was an enormous bug that looked like an alien from a Sigourney Weaver movie plastered on the wall opposite my bed. I screamed and opened the door and tried to get it out, yelling, flailing my arms, throwing flip flops at it, but it just hung out there, serenely, like a plastic brown creature from outer space that had landed for the duration of the night. Hawaii does have bugs!
“Well, I’m sure they don’t have cockroaches at your Club,” I smiled.
“Nope,” Sandy agreed, rising to head out of Utopia. “See you Ladies on the other side.”
“I’ll bring the Pringles!” I offer, following her out.
Sandy snorts, slinging her towel over her shoulders as she ambles out into the locker room and heads for the showers.
Before turning to close the door, I see a movement under the bench on the cement floor. Tiny copper antennae wriggle, exploring.
A cockroach?
ARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!! I think, scurrying out of the sauna to escape the wild beast.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Lane Lines and Macaroons.....


“Let me ask you this,” Sandy’s slathering lotion on, preparing for her final exit.
“Sure,” I say, rubbing in my own Safeway brand. DL sits serenely on the stool behind me, spacing out? Eavesdropping?

“Have you noticed anything different about the new lane lines?” Sandy asks.
“What do you mean?” I grin. “I mean, they’re new. They’re in the pool. Which is a big improvement over old and NOT in the pool. I actually had to go to Berkeley to swim before they got the new lane lines.”
“Really?”

“Yeah, it was chaos. I couldn’t even swim one lap.”
“I understand.” Sandy grabs the red zippered top of the sweat suit leisure ensemble she likes to sport. Tugs it over her wet hair, starts pulling her crap out of the locker to fill her gym bag. “What I was going to ask was, did you notice that the pool had fewer waves in it?”
“What do you mean?”

“Well, someone was telling me how these new lane lines are Wave Barriers. That they create a calmer pool with fewer waves.”
“Uh…well, I’ve never heard of that. I think that fewer waves have to do with fewer people in the pool and then those fewer people aren’t creating Splash Sandwiches.”
Sandy chuckles, “I hear that one. But this person was emphatic about how new and improved these new lane lines were and I was just wondering if you noticed a difference.”
I shake my head, “Nah, honestly, I think that’s hogwash. I mean, any lane line is going to help the splash situation. It’s when there aren’t any that it gets to be a problem.”
She nods, “I understand. At the Bellevue Club there are no lane lines.”
“And I bet very few people.”
“You got that.” Sandy dries off her flip flops, stuffs them in her gym bag.
“So, if there are only a few people swimming I can see how no lane lines could work,” I continue, warming to my topic. “But not here. It’s anarchy here without lane lines.” I shake my head, remembering Dante’s 9th Circle Swim of Hell a few weeks back.

“ATTENTION MEMBERS AND GUESTS!!!! THE TIME IS NOW 10 O’CLOCK PM AND THE DOWNTOWN OAKLAND YMCA IS CLOSED! PLEASE GATHER YOUR BELONGINGS AND MAKE YOUR WAY TO THE EXITS!!!! THANK YOU FOR BEING MEMBERS OF THE DOWNTOWN OAKLAND YMCA!”

The intercom is deafening. DL covers her ears. Sandy shakes her head. “Can someone please explain to me why they can’t just use one finger to hang up the intercom instead of slamming it down?”
We all laugh, including the women unseen in the rows behind us.

“They have to slam it. It’s a theme of Noise Hell. Why is it so loud tonight?” I ask.
“It’s been that way for a while. People have complained.” Sandy shakes her head in resignation as she heaves her gym bag over her shoulder.
“Whaa whaaa whaaa intercom…..wha whaaa wha….intercom!” I joke.

DL produces a beautiful sea foam green box from her bag. Holds it out to me: “Do you like macaroons?” she asks.
“No, not really.”
“Me neither.”
“Where did you get them?”
“Frankie.”
“Oh.”
“She brought them all the way back from Paris for me.”
“Doesn’t she know you don’t like macaroons? I mean you’d think a lifelong ex would know such a thing.”
DL laughs. “I never thought of that, but yeah, you’d think so, but she didn’t….. I guess.”
“Well, I guess I could take them for Ian.”
She brightens, holding the pretty box in front of me to take. It’s enticing. Seductive. But…..
“Oh, but you know what,” I say, suddenly too tired and hungry to even think about the macaroons and all they represent let alone take them off her hands. “I think I’ll pass. Sorry.”

She’s slightly crestfallen. Or is it my imagination? I feel bad, but I really can’t take them. I almost ask Sandy if she’d like them, but then think that might be overstepping. So, DL puts them back in her bag, the sea foam green disappearing under the navy zipper.
For a moment, I want them. They’re so pretty. So what if I don’t eat or like macaroons? And besides that, as usual, I’m starving after my swim.

But this momentary macaroon desire passes as I turn to toss all my stuff in my bag.
“Night, Sandy,” I call out.
“Good night, Ladies. See you next month.”
I grin.
Only Sandy would think to say that. That next week will be September.
Any significance to this?
I don’t think so.

Though now, as I head up the stairs next to DL, I think of September in Paris. Of cafes, and wine, and fancy women clip clopping down the cobblestones in their stilettos. How the hell do they do that?
Maybe they live on those beautiful macaroons. Such sweets build balance and beauty. No waves for these women. The lane lines are always there. Guiding them down Parisian streets toward lovers and cocktails.
Damn, I wished I'd taken those macaroons!



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