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NICE? OR JUST SPACED OUT? (EPILOGUE TO STOP BEING SO NICE!)

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So, out of curiosity, I decided to swim past the 9:25 time last night to see if the lifeguard would kick us out.
It was a calm night at the Oakland pool—the wild winds probably keeping even the hardiest swimmers at bay. (Yes, even though the pool is indoors, it’s a psychological thing, you know? If the weather’s cold, then the pool is less appealing.)

Yet there were a few of us. Chinese Guy Bad Butterflier. Stringy grey haired square woman. Timer guy in Hawaiian Trunks with cute girlfriend stop watching his intervals.

And me. I’m back up to swimming half of my swim again. My arm is better. The exquisite pain lessening. Though it’s still not 100%, so I moved into the walking lane at 9:20 and watched the clock. 9:25 came. I glanced up at the Bored Lifeguard who was making zero move toward her whistle. Interesting. Maybe the 9:25 enforcement last week was simply that one overzealous guard?
In any case, tonight, I just kept swimming. Till 9:30 when over the intercom I hear, “It is now 9:3…

Stop Being So Nice!

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“POOOOOL CLOSED!!!!!” Puffy Pasty Lifeguard bellows and whistles.

I pause in my kicking, glancing up at the clock. It’s only 9:25; the pool has always closed at 9:30. What’s up? Special holiday cheer for all swimmers? You thought you’d get that last 200 yards in before the whistle, but no, time’s up. Get out and get out and hey, would you just get out of the pool already?


I glance around at the other few swimmers in the pool. There are only a few of us this 23rd of December. Everyone’s at the mall? Or out of town? Or they got the memo about the pool closing 5 minutes earlier this evening and decided to stay home and watch Happy Holidays from NBC?

“Don’t we get till 9:30?” I holler back now.

She shakes her head, blows on her whistle again at one lagging swimmer. “Nope. Pool closes at 9:25.”
“Since when?” I ask.
“Since about a week ago,” she answers, as the last straggler stops at the wall. Perplexity all over his mug too.

“They should put signs up or something so we know about the ch…

Elephant Tattoo Adonis

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“Is that an Elephant Tattoo?”

Of course it is. I can see that plainly. But what else to say in the thrill of the moment, when paused at the side of the wall after kicking kicking kicking ,so amazingly boring, for the past 45 minutes, and then lo and behold a young Indian Adonis rests at the side of the wall, sporting an elegant elephant tattoo right below his collar bone?

Yikes.

I am in love.

Of course, not all of my readers may know about my obsession with elephants. It began about a year ago, in the class Art and the Symbolic Process, part of JFK’s Masters of Transformative Arts Program. We were all to pick one symbol to make art from all term. I chose the elephant because of a baby elephant dream I had and also because I saw the silhouette of an elephant during the first night of class meditation. I initially thought it was a mushroom, but no, it was the ears and trunk of an elephant.

So, now, tonight, at the Oakland Y, after kicking endlessly since I still can’t use my little ar…

Exquisite Pain

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“You sure have Strong Legs!” Water Walking Weirdo gives me a strange sideways leer.

I’d seen him earlier when I’d been kicking back and forth back and forth back and forth in one of the lap lanes: so boring! But I’ve somehow mysteriously injured my arm and while the Nurse Practitioner, when she examined me and I winced, pronounced I had “Exquisite Pain”, she also told me that it would take several weeks to resolve. I was to rest it.

This meant, no swimming. Can you even imagine?

I’d been going crazy. But then I texted the Lovely I who’d suggested that there were other ways to be in the water: “You can kickboard. Or use the water belt. Or even water walk.”

Duh. None of these would be using my arm, so on this Sunday, here I was at the Oakland Y, fin kicking mightily with the kickboard, hoping WWW would leave before I switched from kickboard to walking.

He didn’t. Much to my dismay.

I’d observed his strangeness while I’d been kicking. He had a lopsided grin and seemed to be singin…

It Should Be Illegal!

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“It should be illegal!” Aurelie hisses, clucking her tongue as she dries her wet hair.
I laugh, lightly, but really it’s not funny. Having benefits (health insurance, sick and holiday pay), for so long, and then poof! The Powers That Be take it all away has been no laughing matter.

“You know,” Auerlie says, in that quiet but passionate way she has (Do all French women possess this fire?), "they have money…,” she shakes her head, sadly, resignedly, “they just don’t like to share.”


“Unlike France!” I exclaim, not really knowing anything about the politics of France, except for a PBS special on unlimited sick pay for workers (What are they supposed to do? A French worker, out on sick pay for several months had said, when asked about the lack of sick pay in America. Go to work sick?)

Yup, that’s exactly it. Go to work sick. And while Auerlie’s passion helps me feel slightly vindicated about it all, taking away a worker’s benefits isn’t gonna be illegal in America anytime soon.

How …

Courage to Move

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“I lost my contact.” It is more of a resigned announcement, rather than a plea for pity or a cry for help.
She sags on one of the little square benches, her great folds of flesh spilling out of her suit. Shaking her head, she sighs mightily.

I plop my gym bag down on the locker room floor, letting my fins slide to the ground. “Ummm…..” I squat down, scanning the grey cement.

“My eyes are terrible,” she moans, “and I have to drive home…..”

Laughing softly, I commiserate, “Yeah, my eyes are bad too. Guess that’s one of the hazards of middle age.”

She smiles ruefully, sighing again as she starts to feel around on the floor for the lost contact.

“Is it clear?” I ask, scanning futilely. Why do they make the contacts so goddamn hard to see when they fall out as they always do? And the wearer is blind. Couldn’t they turn hot pink on hitting the ground? Or hell, phones are always playing cute little tunes. Why not a contact? It falls to the ground, and “I heard it through the Grapevine” c…

The Entire Month is my Birthday!

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“I’m going to be 39! Next week! 39! I am SO old!”
Shaking my toweled head, I laugh, “Oh, you are SO young!”

Stunning African Dance Woman opens her eyes wide, sparkling, “Really? Cuz I sure don’t feel that way.”
“Well, I know what you mean. Those ‘9’ years are hard. And then the decade one looms on the horizon. But your 40’s are the best if that’s any consolation.” I sink into the hot bubbles, sighing softly after successful navigation of Butterfly Mayhem Man in the lane next to mine.

“That’s what everyone keeps telling me!” SADW exclaims, glancing over at her friend who’s been soaking into a jet.
“I keep telling her that,” Jet Woman nods, turning slightly to gain the best jet action. It’s serious business.
“I know, huh? You do!”
I’m trying unsuccessfully to remember 39. It was so long ago. I give up. Nothing coming to mind other than the warm water therapy at hand. And the birthdays.

“Yes, I do.” Jet Woman doesn’t quite roll her eyes, but I can hear the eye roll.
“How’s it goin?” D…

IT'S THE GESTAPO!

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“Oh, Carol! I didn’t know you come upstairs!” Aurélie grins at me as I pull down spastically on one of the weight machines.
“I try to come a couple of times a week,” I say, glancing over at Ian who’s pulling his own weights. “How’s the pool?”
“Oh, it is good. Very good. You know? No one was in there today. I don’t know what is with that, I asked the lifeguard. Maybe it’s the weather?” Aurelie shrugs as only the French can shrug, glancing over my head at the couple working out on the leg machines. “That is my daughter. She graduated. She’s back now, with her boyfriend.” She gives a little frown, then sighs softly.
“Oh, that’s nice for you, isn’t it?” I ask.

She shrugs again. “I don’t know. Maybe….” Her voice trails off, distracted.
“She probably came to Californian for the weather,” I joke, vaguely remembering that Aurelie’s daughter had been at college somewhere back East.
“Yes, yes, that could be it.”
“Though with the drought now, the weather’s not so great,” I sigh, thinking about…

That’s No Defense

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“I do not swim in straight line.” With an elegant little shrug and a beautifully sheepish smile, the swimmer I’ve asked to share a lane with makes this announcement.
What can I say? This is a first. Sure lots of swimmers at the Y don’t swim in straight lines, but most won’t admit it. (Or don’t know it.)

On the other hand, how do I share a lane with a Crooked Swimmer?
I glanced over at the lane I’d just vacated that was now completely awash in Butterfly Testosterone Situation. I can’t go back there, and so, I just smile at Crooked Swimmer and say that it’s okay. I can swim around her.

She nods, then ventures off in a shaky floaty stroke.

Shaking my head, I follow her. She’s not moving fast, so if we do run into each other, well, we’re not gonna end up in the emergency room.

And we do run into each other. But this is later. For about 20 minutes, I think she’s making an attempt. I catch her at one point when turning at the wall and compliment her, “You’re not doing too bad with stayin…

Grizzly Guy, Hunky Firemen, Pregnant Swimmer: Oh My!

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“What’s up with That Guy?” Penelope nods toward the wiry grimacing little man on the torture machine. He’s making strange grunting guy noises with a face that wrinkles up in agony. His intense powder blue eyes watering at the sides. His strange little body is clad in giant workman boots, blue jeans, big belt and black slinky top over a slight pot belly. For a moment, Penelope was worried that the black slinky top was a body suit for the pool.

Shit. What if Grunting Creepy Man was a swimmer? What if she had to share a lane with him?
She wouldn’t. She’d run back up to the treadmills and walk with DL and watch So You Think You Can Dance rather than share a lane with him.
DL gives him one of her Sicilian Glance Overs. “It’s a Guy Thing.”

He grunts on the machine right next to the one that Penelope wants to do next. But she can’t. His Creepiness exudes into the air with Stay Away from me Vibes.

DL starts on another machine and Penelope follows her, still eyeing him. DL glances over at h…