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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