Sunday, November 26, 2017

Special Magic

“You sound just like my twin sister!” Sandy jokes as I try to croak out a “I’m headed to the pool” farewell.
“Yeah, I have this cold,” I shake my head. “I need to swim it out.”
“I wasn’t gonna say that, but glad you did.”
I wave instead of more croaking, head out to the pool, which on the night before Thanksgiving at the Downtown Oakland Y I expect to be empty.
It’s not.
Every lane is packed. Kids are screaming and hurling toys. The lifeguards are circling the deck, actually paying attention to the mayhem.

I choose a lane to split with a swimmer who seems to have the least amount of splashing. But then she gets out. I spy a Large Man at the wall. Damn, he’s getting in my lane. I hate sharing a lane with Large Men, esp. if there’s a Large Man on the other side of me too. I’m in a Large Man Splash Sandwich, being tossed back and forth between Man Tsunamis.
It’s hell. The 9 circle, of course.
I press on. Get through my swim portion of my workout, swallowing only 10 gallons of water, before grabbing the kickboard, peeling off the mask, and putting on my flippers.
Ah, mobility at last! And I can see. The Mayhem still abounds, but over in the corner of the walking lane I spy the Beauteous Linda Norton chatting with a beauteous blue turban woman as they both serenely stretch and float.
Damn. That’s the way to swim at the Y! Not swim! Both women look so calm and engaged. They don’t have that frenzied aspect that I always have whenever I try to swim my laps here. They just chat, and lift a leg once in a while and then float a bit.
Plus they have their hair in marvelous cover-up situations.
TBLN has her towel tucked under and around her head in some sort of intricate get up. How the hell does she do that? I wonder. Her hair looks like it doesn’t get wet at all! I need to ask her how she does that towel wrap.

And later I do. After Utopia banter about movies, (You must go see Ladybird); art (Carol can paint the three eyes on the back of DL’s head); and heat or lack thereof in the new Utopia (They just installed that new heating unit and it’s not hot enough,” Sandy harrumphs. “I think people are saying that it’s too hot. Well, hell, if they don’t like the heat, they should go in the steam room, you know?)

Then….DL leaves. It’s plenty hot for her. Sandy turns and sighs. BLN rises serenely, her marvelous Towel Head still firmly in place. I hail her before she leaves, “Linda! How do you wrap your towel like that?”
She gives me her Mona Lisa smile as she glides out the door, “Special Magic.”

All the women laugh as the BLN exits.

“She is so funny,” one woman exclaims, chuckling still.
“Yup, that she is,” I agree.
Later, I tell DL the ‘Special Magic’ explanation for the towel wrap and her eyes light up. “That’s fantastic, CJ. I think we can use that phrase for many things.”
And she’s right.
Michelle Pfeiffer in Murder on the Orient Express: Special Magic.
The cat eating the pills hidden in her treats: Special Magic.
The pool lane empty and warm and free of Big Man Splash Sandwich: Special Magic!!!

Sandy and I: twins? Now, that would be the most Special Magic of all!

Just like Mariah and Cassie on the Young and the Restless.
Or Adam and Stuart on All My Children.


Stay tuned....there's more Special Magic in the future. You can count on Utopia for that!

Thursday, November 16, 2017


“Did anyone turn in a purple water bottle?” DL takes a chance. Asks the 12 year old at the front counter of the Downtown YMCA: Time: 9:59. 1 minute till closing.
No way is she going to get any action now, right?


12 year old girl (actually, she’s probably 25) makes a pretense of glancing around behind the counter, a look of intense bored concentration. “I don’t see anything.”
“I think I left it upstairs,” DL continues. “I was on the treadmill and the bikes.”
“I’ll go take a look,” 12 year old nods, trots out of our sight.
I glance over at DL, shrug. “I gotta set this stuff down,” I motion to my hugely laden gym bag.
“Sure,” DL and I walk over to the chairs by the front door. I plop my bag down next to Large and In Charge Lifeguard who’s plugged into something, staring into space.

I stare at him. Wanting to fuck with him. What can I say? Oh, yeah, my favorite, complain about the pool temperature.
He sees my stare, takes out his earplugs, “WHAT?” he looks at us, aghast at our effrontery to interrupt his plugged in state.
“Nothing,” I say.
“Okay, well, why were you staring at me?”
“We weren’t staring at you,” DL says. “We’re just waiting.”
“Oh, okay.” He glances at me. “I thought I did something wrong.”
I grin. “Actually, you did.”
“WHAT?” Now he’s pissed off, mildly so, but I like it.
“It’s all your fault that the pool was cold tonight.”
“What are you talking about? The pool was 84 degrees!” he proclaims, shaking his head, and starting to plug in again. He’s had enough of the stupid middle aged women hassling him.
“It was NOT!” I try not to shout. “I wouldn’t have been cold if it had been 84!” And it wasn’t. I’d even talked to another swimmer and asked her if she had been cold. She’d paused for a moment, then nodded, ‘Yeah, it was a little chilly tonight.’

Too bad I didn’t have her here to back me up. It’s always just me complaining and then the lifeguards, 12 year olds and other sundry Y employees roll their eyes at me. Complain complain complain. It falls on deaf ears.

I stare at Large and in Charge. He seems genuinely incensed at my claim that the pool was cold. I think he’s lying. Why? Just to fuck back at me.

12 year old returns. It’s only been a few minutes. Did she really go all the way upstairs and scour the premises for DL’s water bottle?
“I don’t see anything,” she murmurs, turning away from us.
Surprise surprise.
She’s lying too.
Later, in the car, I mention to DL that I didn’t think she’d had time to really go upstairs and look for the water bottle. She probably just ducked around the corner, counted to 50 and then returned. Then lied to us.


Why is this? Is it just easier to lie? I think so. Sometimes. Those little ‘white’ lies—the typical ones done out of politeness-- just roll off the tongue. ‘Oh yes, your hair looks fabulous!’ When in actuality it looks like shit. Or, “Gee, that production of Oklahoma that your community playhouse put on was marvelous!” When in fact no one can compare to Shirley Jones!
Or sometimes the lies serve a darker purpose: my all-time favorite: “The shake machine is broken” from my stint as a soda jerk. This lie came so easily to me as the stunned family of 5 stood open mouthed, disappointment lining their mugs. No way was I going to make 5 milkshakes 3 minutes before closing! The lie worked perfectly! They got cones instead. Or maybe they just left. I don’t remember. But The Lie did wonders for my mood!
And so, tonight, the liars at the Y can be excused. I get it. It’s just easier. Esp. when you’re about to close. But poor DL! I bet her purple water bottle is up there somewhere.

Or not. Maybe 12 year old clerk took it. Saw how very pretty it was. Snatched it for herself.
Would she? I mean, a water bottle? Isn’t that kinda gross? Of course, DL is NOT gross, so maybe when 12 year old saw DL she thought, hell, the only way I can get close to someone so beauteous is by lying and then stealing her water bottle.

Yup. I bet that’s what happened.

I’m going to run this theory past DL. In the meantime, if anyone sees a pretty purple water bottle at the YMCA, can you please turn it in to the lost and found?

And do NOT give it to the 12 year old.

I don’t trust her!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

That's What I Would do!

“Oh…..sorry…sorry…so sorry!”

I had felt the short stabbing pain a moment before. A kick to my neck. My bad side of course. I’d been placidly kicking on my back, enjoying my warm-down, after the blissful swim at Joanna Banana’s Claremont Community pool.

And then, wham! The kick!

After her 'so sorries', I watch her hot pink cap disappear under the lane line in a watery blur as I rub my now aching neck. Apology made. On to the next disaster.

What the hell? I mean, why do people do that? I get that she was trying to climb out of the pool at the steps. That she had to dive under my lane to do this. But, c’mon. She had a ton of time to do this. Why pick the exact moment before I turn at the wall?

I tell Joanna this later, and she just cracks up. “I know! I hate it when people do that! I time my laps.
I swim a 50 in 50 seconds. That means that there are at least 40 seconds, 45 seconds even, to duck under my lane line when I’m not at the wall. And I tell myself, why do people not figure this out the same way I do? Why doesn’t everyone think the way I do? I mean, when I was supervising people at work and they did some dumb ass thing, I’d think to myself, why didn’t you do it like I would have? Doesn’t everyone think the same way I do? I mean, c’mon people. Get it together. Think like me!”
And we all crack up, me, Joanna and Ian.

I have to agree. Why didn’t Kick Me in the Neck Lady figure out that she could have dipped under my lane line at any number of points in time without kicking me! All she had to do was either time her lane crossing to before or after my turn at the wall. If she had waited till I turned, then she would have had a full minute (I’m not as speedy as Joanna) to dive under the lane line and make her way to the steps. Even the slowest turtle could do that!
But no. She had to choose the precise moment that I come to the wall right before I turn around to dive under and wham, she kicks me and then she’s all apologies. Plus!Couldn’t she see I was on my back? That my vision was obviously skyward rather than herward?
“Well, at least she apologized,” Joanna grins.
“Yeah, there’s that,” I shake my head.
“But why did she have to choose that moment in the first place?” Joanna muses, laughing.
“Exactly!” I laugh.

Why oh why can’t everyone think and behave just like me? I think of this all the time. Why can’t that driver of the monster red truck just let me merge in front of him onto the freeway? That’s what I would do! Why can’t the cat pee inside the box instead of outside of it? That’s what I would do! (If I were a cat!) Why can’t Ian agree with everything I say? That’s what I would do….okay, maybe not. But you get my drift!
If everyone followed the same pool etiquette that I do, then it would make the pool a much safer place to be. Not to mention the world a much better place to live!

Because as everyone knows who knows me, my thoughts and behaviors are perfect.

At least in the pool that is!

Mad as Hell!

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” Remember that line? Remember that movie? Network , right? What was everyone so ma...