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Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Paper Bathing Suit Caper

I am carving out a life with the same dedication that Degas exhibited when he molded his statue of Dancer Aged 14.  When Degas died in 1917, there were 150 wax or clay sculptures of her found in his studio. They were all various representations of his vision of his famous fourteen-year old dancer.  My point being, through a series of approximations, we move toward our chef d’oeuvre, whatever that might be. I have a sense I might be doing so currently. I believe I am doing so with humor as one of my most important tools. 
I am a walking comedy routine so far as I can tell. I actually laugh out loud when I do something silly.  How about the time I accidentally made a peanut butter and ketsup sandwich?  The new squeeze bottle of jelly was easily confused with familiar squeeze bottle of ketsup.  What about the Thanksgiving I went to Richardson’s Candy Kitchen in Deerfield, MA? I bought twelve small chocolate turkeys to set at each of the twelve diners’ places on Turkey Day later that week.  I carefully tucked them away so the children wouldn’t find them.  I never did find them!  These little gems of misadventure make me laugh. What can I say? 

This week, I added one to the list.  I have been flirting with the idea of joining the pool in Vineyard Haven.  They have a introductory special at this time of year. I packed up and headed over after completing my volunteer duties at the community greenhouse. I was ready to bag the whole effort, but something whispered in my head,” Forward, move forward.”  After all, how many renditions did Degas make of his dancer? That takes commitment, intention. I WILL go exercise in the pool.  After all, going to the pool is a little like going to church -- you begrudge the effort it takes to get there, but you feel so damn good afterwards! I signed in, descended to the locker room and exchanged pleasantries with a health club member before I realized my bathing suit was not in my bag with my towel. I knew for a fact that I did NOT have the stamina to drive home, retrieve my suit and return for an exercise session. What to do, what to do?  I went back upstairs to the front desk and explained my conundrum.
At which point, I was introduced to a pseudo-oxy-moron, a paper bathing suit.  For the pleasure of stripping down and donning a one-piece suit made out of a Tyvek-like matierial, I plunked down $16.  The girl at the front desk offered her pitch and ended with, “You’ll be our first customer, be sure to let us know what you think!”
When I tugged it on, the only give in the suit came from the elastic around the legs and the arm holes. There was barely enough extra fabric to allow movement. My subtle curvature was a bonus. Because the suit billowed with air around the abdomen and rear, I rustled as I walked. I pulled open the door that led out to the pool. To my relief, I had the impression that I was the only person in the pool area. I deposited my belongings on a chair, and took stock.
I was relieved to find I was apparently the only person at the pool. I entered the pool slowly. The water was cold, much colder than it was the last time I was there -- about eight years ago.Bit by bit, I acclimated to the water; in the same way, it came to my attention that there was actually a young man sitting at the corner of the pool near the Jacuzzi and steam room. I pointedly disregarded him as I went through a series of pool exercises that I used to do three times per week. If I became self-conscious, I would never get through the routine that a physical therapist orchestrated for me. After all, did Degas brook interruptions as he worked? Twenty-five minutes later, I was cold. So cold.  
I stood up to get out of the water and discovered that my paper bathing suit clung to me like wet paper towel.  Ever feature of my body was covered, but somehow accentuated by the Tyvek. What was worse? Upon getting out, water formed a pillow around my middle. It appeared as if I were wearing a wet diaper, a very heavy, wet diaper.  The elastic around the legs of the suit was so tight that the water stayed put, not draining until I slipped a finger under each side of the suit and let it whoosh, gushing to the floor. The sensation was reminescent
of the first moments of going into labor.  
When I glanced down at myself, I laughed aloud. I looked absolutely and utterly ridiculous in my high fashion paper bathing suit plastered to my skin. I would have covered up with my towel, but it was my only towel and I wanted to reserve it for when I got out of the Jacuzzi. I was intent upon warming up.  I trundled over to the Jacuzzi where the same young man still sat perfectly still, with no distractions such as a phone, a book or an iPod. How many young men today sit in one place for half an hour? Just sit? It seemed odd and slightly off to me.  
I kept my backside out of view as I lowered into the 103 degree water. I submerged myself in the rolling cauldron of hot water quite blissfully. I must have dozed off. I woke when the Jacuzzi stopped.  The young man offered to turn it back on so I wouldn't have to get up to do so.  I declined at first, then thought better of my decision.  “Yes, please.” 
I was actually hoping that he might l e a v e in the next twelve minute cycle so I could make my very exposed exit just a little more privately.  Never mind the video cameras I noticed that were sending a live feed to the front desk of the gym (which is shared by a hotel.) Sigh.
As I contemplated how I ever got myself in this predicament, the young man said his most polite goodbyes.  It was at that moment that I focused on the electronic box strapped securely to his left ankle. That could not bode well. So, was I alone in a pool area wearing a wet napkin of a bathing suit with a seemingly polite young man or a hardened criminal under house arrest? Were there cameras still watching us?
After he took his leave, I skittled backward (bottom away from video camera) with my towel wrapped around me until I reached the door to the Women’s Locker Room. I pushed my way into the off-camera privacy. Just as I was peeling off my bathing suit, I caught a glimpse of a long-legged thin woman whom I did not recognize. Then it came to me -- it was my own reflection in the mirror! 
I LAUGHED OUT LOUD, the sound of my laughter bouncing off the tiled walls. I dressed quickly, still chuckling. As I pulled open the locker room door to head back up to the front desk and street level, I pondered what other humorous gaffes were in store for me. I turned to glance one last time at the screen behind the lobby desk that showed nine views of the pool area. The pool was glass smooth.

Heading to my car, my own laughter trailed behind me like a shadow.

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