Facade

Day 1

“You have to look the part.” This was said from the twenty-something year-old pool manager to a forty-something year-old woman at the pool. She twitched. I overheard but did not process.

Day 2

I noticed the woman again; again she was with her two teenagers, a son and a daughter. On the surface I thought, isn’t that nice.  Unusual that these teenagers spend so much time with their mother at the pool!

Day 3

I notice the family of three. They are sinking lower into their cabana lounge chairs. They have been there a long time today without moving much. The mother looks tired, as though she could sleep but she doesn’t. The back of her chair is in the fully upright position. She is covered by a blue fuzzy blanket. She asks the staff person to close the door as a breeze has come up and she feels cold. Later, she and her daughter leave and bring back Styrofoam takeout containers with hot food and cold smoothies on the side.

Day 4

The mother and daughter are in their cabana again. Daughter has a dreamy, far away look in her eyes today.  As though gazing into a mirror, she holds up her cell phone. It has brought her away from this place. They have a collection of haphazard totes. An hour later, the son arrives and is greeted. He walks over and comforts his mother, patting her back. She is also far away and appears furlong, barely responding. The son carries most of the bags and the three leave together. It is 8pm.

Last Swim

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My hotel pool is closing to local swimmers now that summer is on its way. On my second to last trip to the pool, a healthy, ten-year old girl kept cannon balling behind me as I attempted to do laps. The fall out was extreme and the waves prevented me from swimming for a full three minutes. I also found it highly startling. She would then swim perpendicular to my pool length laps.  Her mother was close by and never said a word. I looked at the mother and informed her of my PTSD. “Oh is she bothering you?” she asked demurely…

I know when my number is up.  I decided that although I never miss a swim, perhaps it would not serve me well to go to the pool on the next and very last day of the season. That is what I decided when my swimming friend called and asked if I ‘d like to join her at the pool for the last time. Well, safety in numbers I thought and I agreed. I was happy to have this cheerful last swim. I arrived and my friend was already in the water and no children in sight. Sigh of relief.

Over the season, I developed several defensive maneuvers to keep obnoxious children and their parents at bay, such as positioning myself as near to the parents as possible so that they get splashed too; using my technique of treading water in place of lap swimming to stay out of the line of fire; praying out loud; looking a child in the eye while pointing out that I am old enough to be their grandmother; blocking out noise by humming or chanting loudly; swimming in a very slapping, splashing manner (just like kids do); fake coughing like I am sick and might vomit; take a stance as though I might be peeing; not bothering to wear my modesty cover-up in case someone might be offended; taking a slow time in the single use bathroom in case a screaming child might have to use the toilet urgently (this one is totally ineffective because most children pee in the pool).

For next year, I think I’ll sharpen my cannon ball skills.  That and a good Hail Mary may just save me.