September 30, 2006

Fun Piled on a Bun

(Don't feed me no bologna.)

It will be a great day when I have my own washer and dryer. At present, it is far off in the unforseeable future. I don't like it one bit.

I've had it with laundromats all these years. What with the constant quest for laundry quarters, the not finding out a washer isn't working until it's too late and you have to transfer your sticky, detergent-dripping clothes to another machine while lamenting the loss of the aforementioned precious quarters; the suspicious inspection of the machines for crayons, tissues, and leaky, inky pens that have been washed; the kids running through the joint screaming and crashing the metal carts into everything and everyone; the change machines that only like dollar bills that are at a medium stage of wear and tear; and, my personal favorite, not finding out your dryer didn't work until the cycle's enough to drive you to drink.

Tonight I decided it would be fun to spend my Saturday night at the laundromat. I managed to have some strange muscle spasm in my arm while carefully pouring bleach (why or why did I stop buying the "no splash" kind?) and poured it all over the machine and myself. (I am completely disinfected, now.)

True enough, I've had very colorful experiences in laundromats. There was the dingy little laundromat in the Bolton Hill neighborhood of Baltimore where the elderly Black ladies gathered around giggling and whispering as the male stripper hung up his delicates. There was the time in Richmond that I was so aggravated with the Jehovah's Witnesses that would come in and harass me with their little magazines while I sat on the table reading; the only way I could get them to stop trying to talk to me about God was to tell them I worshipped the devil. (I like to think my soul was prayed for that night.) Ahh...good times...

Gotta head back over--the dryers should be done in two minutes, Allah willing.

September 29, 2006

Swimming Etiquette

I like to swim.

I swim laps at my YMCA a couple times a week. It's one of the most enjoyable and relaxing things I do all week. I like the soothing, repetitive motions and the gurgling noises of my own bubbles in my ears.

I'm not a fast swimmer by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm not a complete slouch, either.

My pool is divided into 5 lanes: 2 for "slow" swimmers, 2 for "medium" swimmers, and 1 center lane for "fast" swimmers. I know my place. I usually swim in the slow lanes, but once in awhile if I feel spunky enough I might move over to the medium lanes.

I try to time my swims when the fewest number of people tend to be using the pool, but it doesn't always work out. It's not that big a deal if it's crowded, though, because when you follow the "swimming etiquette" rules posted on the bulletin board, everybody can pretty much fit. These rules are very simple: if there are two people in the lane, you split the lane in half. If there are three or more, you "circle swim." (This is just what it sounds like--everyone swims in a circular direction around the lane so that you can always be swimming.)

Yesterday afternoon I was swimming along--minding my own business--and splitting the lane with a very nice, older Australian woman. A young girl comes along and joins us in our lane. Now normally you're supposed to talk to the other swimmers in the lane to ask if you can all circle, but no matter--the Australian lady and I just automatically switched to circle swimming to accomodate her.

This new girl bugged me a little off the bat because of her frilly little white eyelet bathing suit with little tassely flourishes all over it. (This is business, baby--we don't come here to pose on the side of the pool and tie our tassles. Leave the virginal farm-girl country bumpkin suit at home.) Once she started swimming she really began to piss me off.

I hate to be fucked with while I'm working out. I'm on a mission here and my time is valuable.

She was a much faster swimmer than the Australian lady and I, and she seemed intent on demonstrating this to us. While circle swimming she would quickly swim up directly behind us (the equivalent of tail-gating), huff dramatically at our slow speed, and then swim back to the wall to kill time while us lumbering sea turtles finished our lap. When she got bored with that game, she started passing us by swimming underneath of us as we were doing our laps.

Go to the faster fucking lanes, princess.

The last straw came when Laura Ashley decided she wanted to play chicken with me. I saw her swimming directly toward me in my half of the lane in the wrong direction. Unimpressed, I kept swimming forward waiting for her to pull one of her flashy little switchbacks. She kept swimming toward me.

I was thoroughly pissed off by now--not just at her, but that someone would ruin my peaceful Zen-like trance that I go into while swimming. I stopped swimming and stood up in the lane with my legs planted firmly and my hands on my hips.

(Oh! I must have been a mighty display of power in all my silicon-capped, goggled glory! Plus, I looked particularly bad-ass because I had some nasty track-mark-looking bruised areas all over the inside of my arms from getting some bloodwork done earlier in the week. All I needed was some fierce-looking biker tattoo and my image would have been complete.)

She ran directly into me, with her head smacking into my stomach and her arm smacking me on the shoulder. She looked up, pretending to be surprised and tugging on her tassels.

"Sorry, I didn't know you were there," she sputtered breathlessly.

(Yeah, right.)

"Do you know what 'circle swimming' means?" I asked, and then dramatically sashayed around her to finish my lap. (Okay, maybe it wasn't so dramatic. Everything is kind of in slow-motion in the water anyway.)

She left soon after, and the Australian lady and I swam companionably together for the next 40 minutes or so.


(Don't even get me started on the "Russian Gliders" that swarm around you like piranahs at 11am.)

September 25, 2006

Wood legs and bow legs and no legs at all...

Struggling with eternal questions:

Why am I here? Why are any of us here, really? And where are we going? How will we get there? And what if we don't like it once we get to wherever that is? Can we come back? Will there be anything to come back to?

Why am I typing this?