Friday, August 10, 2012

Life Without Decorum

I didn't swim today.  I love swimming.  Why didn't I swim?  The Renton Aquatic Center was beautiful.  The day was perfect, sunny and seventy-seven degrees.  Nick and Adrian were happy and shouting as they rolled around in the wave pool with their friend.  They went down the water slide a half a dozen times.  They floated around the lazy river.  They even ran through the spray of the kiddie section.  But I didn't swim.  What the heck was wrong with me?

I'm not sure.  Here's my excuse - I didn't swim because I was with another mom who couldn't swim because she had stitches that needed to stay dry.  It was stupid.  There was no reason I couldn't leave her alone for a while.  She's an adult.  She knows that life isn't fair.  She had a book to read. 

Is that really it? Nope. I'm lying to you. I was lying to Mike when I told him too. He knows that I love to swim.  I didn't swim for a totally different reason. 

It started out badly. See, when I was getting ready this morning, I pulled my jacket out of the dryer. So, when we were waiting in line to get into the pool, I got a little chilly. When I grabbed my jacket and put it on, I was talking to my friend. I didn't notice that a pair of my underwear had dropped off of my jacket onto the sidewalk, crotch up. I blithely chatted until I turned around and saw it.

"Hey, there's a pair of ..." I said before I recognized the color, the age, the places where the elastic had stretched. Could I just vanish into the ether? No. I had to lean over, nonchalantly pick them up, and bury them under the towel in my beach bag. The look on my friend's face told me she'd seen them. The look on her daughter's face said so too. I tried to go on chatting as if nothing had happened.  It was futile.

By the time they let us into the pool, it was hot.  The wave pool was inviting.  The lazy river quickly filled with people on inner tubes.  There was a line for each of the two slides.  In the main pool, the lap lane was empty.  I looked at it all afternoon as I chatted with my friend.  I could have jumped into the pool and start doing laps. I'm not a bad swimmer.  I'm slower than I used to be, but I can still do everything but the butterfly for at least a length of the pool.  If I'm honest, the breast stroke hurts my back, but I can still do it.  Why wasn't I willing to get into the water and swim in front of my friend?

Here's a bitter truth:  Doing laps in a pool isn't my favorite thing to do. 

This woman is a new friend.  I haven't let her in on one inevitably obvious fact.  I'm a dork.  I'm happiest in a pool when I'm just goofing off, doing back flips, hand stands, the crawl/backstroke corkscrew.  I have to tell you that I could never do a normal handstand when I was young, but I learned to do it in the water back then and I can still walk a few steps across the pool with my legs straight up, toes pointed.  I really don't want to think about what that might look like these days.  I usually don't care.  Remember, I'm hanging around with kids most of the time, not with adults.  I don't usually have to think about what I look like while I'm in the pool.  Kids just respond to the games you play, shark, dead dolphin, washing machine.  It's fun, but this was different.  I was with another mom.  There was decorum to think about.  I couldn't pretend I was a synchronized swimmer with ten other girls moving exactly as I did.  Did you do that when you were a kid or was it just me and my cousins? 

And then there is the question of the swim skirt.  I don't believe that women should have to cover up a lot to swim.  A basic tank is all I should need, but this year, for the first time, I have a swim skirt.  Before I spent the money, I never thought about how I looked in my bathing suit.  Once I was in, I felt as comfortable as if I were wearing jeans and a nice turtleneck shirt.  Remember, I love to swim.  When I'm playing in the water, I'm not thinking about how I look in my bathing suit. 

So, I'm not sure why I even bought the swim skirt.  It doesn't cover my varicose veins.  My thighs are pretty lumpy, but the skirt doesn't cover that either.  I don't know why I've suddenly become self-conscious about an ordinary tank, but I have.  The other problem with the skirt is that when I bought it, I had a black bathing suit, so I bought fuchsia.  At the beginning of the season, I bought a new suit, a purple tank.  By itself, my bathing suit doesn't look bad, but with the shorts, I look like I'm trying out for my fifth Olympics.  There's that dreaded decorum again. 

I didn't even put on my bathing suit combo today.  I put on my sunglasses and my hat and sat in my tank and shorts on one of the chaise lounges lined up along the fence.  I was a wall flower.  I had no illusions about looking like Grace Kelly in my hat.  I sweated.  I talked while I ate my salad.  Thankfully, I didn't spill anything onto my shirt like I usually do.  I was awkward getting up out of the low chaise lounge.  I tried to chat my way through.  I did pretty well at that part.  We talked about our kids' development.  We talked about her surgery and I asked thoughtful questions.  I tried to talk to her about books, but she didn't bite.  We went on about healthy self-images for girls.  We talked about school.  I like to think I made her forget about that ratty pair of underwear lying on the sidewalk.  I never gave her a chance to see me walk on my hands, toes pointed, in the pool.  I never even took a couple of laps.  I sat with my varicose veins were turned away from her. 

I suppose had a little decorum, but when I got home, I was hot, sweaty, sticky from sun screen, and I was a little sad.  I didn't swim today.

Thank you for listening, jb

No comments:

Post a Comment