Friday, June 18, 2010

What do you say to a Naked Gramma?

The Lion's Holladay Pool near our house opened a few years ago--and I was right there on the first day--anxious to get a little exercise and "chlorine therapy".  For several years, I've had an annual pass.  I love to swim--never mind that I'm "wasted" for the rest of the day.

Two days ago, one of those awkward moments when someone you know fully clothed shows up poolside and recognizes you.  Regardless of the mileage on the liver spots and wrinkles -- even a modest suit on both of you is barely enough to keep from making eye contact and disciplining yourself from glancing, below the "Mason Dixon" Line.

OK, in this case Gramma was a dear friend--and she wasn't naked--but our greeting was "tight" at best.   It's at those moments you work hard to say just the right thing--and "good to see you" just isn't one of them.

This morning I was sitting in the hot tub with five or six older women when someone came down the steps and began visiting with one of her neighbors.  Their conversation soon was animated and friendly--and I got up to climb out just as my friend from many years ago sat on the steps and blocked my exit.  I didn't say anything-- just stood there patiently waiting.  Her friend picked up on my need to leave and said as much to my friend.   She shifted her position in the warm tub and kept chatting away.

I could have left without saying anything, but I extended my hand and said, "Hello, Peggy!  Jon Howe."  She paused in mid sentence, instinctively grabbed my hand, smiled, nodded, "Oh, hello" in one of those "what do you say to a Naked Grampa?" moments and went right back to her conversation.   In the pool, with very little between you and your friends from the clothed existence, best be brief and be gone!

There is great value in shy.   Being too forward, especially in these swim suited moments casts you as an Insurance Salesman in a stalled elevator.  I've discovered that rather than proposing--I'd better react than act.

In the early morning, the exercise classes and gramkid swim lessons draws quite a crowd to the Lion's Pool. With my Santa beard, I fit right in.  I've noticed certain interesting behaviors--like the lady who is careful not to get into water over her collar bones--and is made up and coifed to the nth degree.  Maybe it's for self image, but I'm guessing she's out to snare an eligible fella swimmer.

One of my favorite personalities is a slight, older woman who teaches little ones to lose their fear of the water.  She has a collection of learning hula hoops, floating blocks, little foam fish.  I enjoy watching how good she is with these youngsters.

Then there's the Jewish tag team best friends swimming instructors.  They are all bluff and bluster--full of effusive compliments--keeping things rolling and their young charge's always moving.

One willowly gramma in sweat shirt and pendleton plaid proper collar is there to help Sissy with her support and a thirty towel.  She and her daughter support the troops--and she patiently lives for it.

An 80 something coctail olive on a couple of toothpicks with a smooshed in face walked and rolled his way to the dressing room.  His legs were so skinny--and his giant belly was encased in a floatation belt.

The cool teenage lifeguards have developed the sheik mystique of a greyhouse or perhaps giraffe.  They are "above it all" whether on their stainless steel tower or walking back and forth with giant salami-like floatation bouys under their arms--ever ready.   

Then there's the elegant Moms--who come to read paperback novels, always slender, snug slacks and big sunglasses in touseled sun streaked hair.  One of them took her place while a young daughter swam laps--and luckily I spotted her quickly.   The last thing I wanted to do was haul my blubber out of the drink in front of her and flash a shy smile.   Sometimes it's just easier to paddle around until she leaves.    No such luck.  She was there for the duration--and a waterlogged half hour drug by.   Finally I moved out of her eye line and hoisted myself quickly into the dressing room.

I wondered, why someone who has let himself go as I have in favor of whatever tasty morsels get packed in on forks and spoons over a lifetime of gastronomic enjoyment---why worry.    Don't know, but I tend to be a little self conscious. 

For swimming, I would rather enjoy the indifference of strangers than endure judgemental glances and tight little laughs of embarrassment.

What do you say to a Naked Gramma?  Absolutely nothing, if you can avoid it!  JWH

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