Tuesday, December 24, 2019
“Hi,” I stop to signal the swimmer in the crowded Christmas Eve day pool. “Can I share the lane with you?”
She glares at me. This is hard to do through foggy goggles, but she manages it. “Can you just swim with someone else who’s been here longer?”
I stare at her, amazed. Is she refusing to share a lane with me? At the YMCA? Hell, that’s not okay! It’s not like she’s at her private country club with her own private lane that no one else is allowed in!
And, for chrissakes, it’s Christmas Eve day! The pool is closing 8 hours early! Every lane is full. She can’t just tell me to go somewhere else. To swim with someone else that’s been here longer?
In minor shock, I say, “How can I know who has been here longer? Obviously, I just got here!”
She sighs. I am so tiresome. “I just want to swim by myself for a while….” And then she turns away from me and proceeds to swim languidly down the middle of the lane.
Well, you stupid cow, we’d all like to swim by ourselves for a while, but it’s a holiday and it’s crowded and did I say, this is the goddamn YMCA!!!!! Not the Claremont!
I move over to the next lane, and ask the woman there if I can split the lane with her. She nods, sure, and then moves to one side. Easy Peasy!
Halfway down the lane, I stop and holler at the lifeguard, who’d sat there watching the entire interaction with You Can’t Share My Lane Woman. “Did you hear that?” The lifeguard tries to act interested, but she’s not. “I asked her if I could share her lane and she refused!!! Can you believe that?” The lifeguard nods, imperceptibly. She is so bored. But she makes a mammoth effort and begins motions to get up off her pretty little ass. Like she's gonna go talk to the woman?
“Nah, that’s okay. Don’t bother,” I wave her back down. “I don’t want to swim with someone like that anyway.”
And I start swimming down the lane, thinking, not much Christmas spirit there. No Christmas at the pool today. I sure hope I don’t see her in the sauna. Cuz I’d sure let her have it. But hell, it’s Christmas. Who wants a confrontation with some Lane Grinch? Not me! I’d rather have the Pool be like it was the week before…...
“Wow! The pool is so marvelous today!” I give K a tired grin over the empty lane between us. We’re the only ones in the pool. A Saturday afternoon between Parent Tots and Rec Swim.
“Yes,” she beams back at me. “Everyone must be Christmas shopping.”
“Good for us!” I proclaim. “I’m skipping Christmas this year,” I confide. Then I wave my arm over the surface of the calm water, “The Pool is Christmas!” I exclaim.
Her smile widens, “The pool is, indeed, Christmas.”
And, I think yup. Cuz what is Christmas? It’s magic and friends and family and presents. Of course, lots and lots of presents! And surprises! I remember all the Christmases where I and my sisters would wake at the crack of dawn, tumble out into the front room to the tantalizing smell of Mommy’s Christmas cinnamon bread, and Grandma Birdie and Aunt Tea would already be there. I always knew they’d be there, but still….it was such a known surprise to have them there to greet us. “Merry Christmas, girls,” they’d say, sipping their coffees, eyes sparkling.
Then we’d tear into the presents, ripping wrapping, uncovering Puss n Boots Princess Books, and fuzzy slippers, and oh, so much more. It was always the best!
And, so, that day, with the empty pool and just K there with me, it was Christmas. Cuz what could be better than an unexpectedly empty pool on a Saturday afternoon?
Magic! Surprise! And the best present ever!
The pool is Christmas!
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