January 29, 2007

The Case Of The Too Small Speedo

I don't want you to think I dislike old people. First of all, that's not even remotely true. Second of all, that's a statement that would come back to bite me in the ass faster than I could strap on a bullet-proof ass protector. Third of all, I'm getting older every day and I'm sure I've got a pretty good chance of turning into the same type of old person I make fun of.

I suppose the truth is that I am sometimes just in wonder of certain things that elderly people do. Like, for instance, the way many of them act like complete anti-social wackos.

Let's take this morning's swim as a fer instance. I'm piddling around in my lane doing my long Aerobic swim. The lane next to me is reserved for what they tend to call "leisure" activities. What that means is that, in order to be allowed to recreate in that lane you must provide one of two things. First, you can show a photo ID indicating that you were born sometime around the turn of the century (any century turning is accepted). Otherwise you have to bring a note from your doctor with visible proof that you are suffering from one or more of the following ailments:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthritis
  • Full paralysis of at least one limb
  • Partial paralysis of at least two limbs
  • IQ no greater than 36
  • Fluent in any Eastern European language (or Sanskrit) with absolutely no comprehension whatsoever of even the most basic terms in the English language.
So, as I said, I was minding my own business in the lane next to the leisure lane when I noticed a somewhat older gentleman approach. This so-called gentleman was clearly ready to do his laps as he strode across the pool area proudly clad in his one-size-too-small Speedo with a blue swimming cap covering his head and swimming goggles firmly strapped across his mustachioed face.

Expecting him to jump into my lane, I was pleasantly surprised when he dipped into the leisure lane. As I continued on with my laps, I noticed him standing on the end of the leisure lane stretching out his arms and going through his checklist of workout preparation techniques. In the process of this preparation, a very old, very Russian couple climbed into the leisure lane and started doing their walking-cum-breastroke activities. It became clear that Small Speedo guy was quickly incensed. I stopped my swimming for a few minutes - I had to see how this one played out.

Can you move over to one side of the lane? Speedo guy yelled at the Ruskies. The couple peered back at the goggle-clad wonder with a look of confusion in their eyes.

Would you pleeeeease move to the other side of the lane so I can swim!? he yelled again not quite as friendly as the previous time yet adding a bit of hand gesticulation to help get his point across.

The Russians clearly would have none of this. You go somevere else! the old many screamed back. Vy you can't svim dair - or dair!! he yelled, pointing at the other lanes.

This was the point I thought I'd be nice before we found ourselves in the Cold War, Part Deux.

Excuse me, I said to the Speedo King as I moved closer to the lane line buoys. That lane is usually reserved for leisure activities but you are more than welcome to share my lane if you like.

He looked at me and harumphed. Well, he spat, I....uh....um....arrrrrrrrrgh.......uh...I guess they're right.
And then slowly and somewhat reluctantly, he dipped under the lane line marker to join the lane I was in.

Situation resolved, I thought. I've done my good deed for the morning. And just as I was about to continue my workout I heard him begin to speak.

Um....uh.....how much longer long you going to be swimming for?

Odd question, I thought, but I'll play this one through.
I've got about 1200 meters left, I replied. But you're more than welcome to use that side of the lane.

So you'll be a long time then, huh? He persisted.

What the hell?! I thought to myself. Does he have a problem with me? Does he just have a problem with people in general? Does he expect to come swimming at a crowded YMCA and have the entire pool to himself?

I suppose I will be, I said. Again, you're more than welcome to share the lane if you like and I'm sure it'll work out just fine.

He harumphed some more but I couldn't have any of this. As he was about to say something else to me, I pushed off the wall and continued my swim.

When I finished the 50 and returned to the wall I noticed Sir Speedo wasn't there any longer. I looked around for him only to notice that he had moved two lanes over to share a lane with somebody else.

Was it me? What did I do wrong here? I was baffled. I looked at my bathing suit to make sure there were no gaping holes or offensive markings. Nope, nothing. I thought about my stroke to assess whether I was spastic enough to cause a lane-partner physical harm. Nope, feelin' pretty fluid.

Whatever, I thought. I finished my workout.

As I was back in the locker room drying myself off and getting dressed to leave, Speedo man walked in and headed towards his locker. As he walked over, he passed by another man's open locker, reached down and took the sitting stool from in front of that locker.

Hey! said the Open Locker guy. Why did you take my stool!? Aren't any of those good enough for you? he continued as he pointed to a pile of about 10 other unused sitting stools.

Ease back, fella, Speedo said. I didn't notice your name etched on this particular stool.

Are you kidding?! the guy responded. It was right in front of my open locker with my stuff on it!

And so, just as suddenly, I realized that it wasn't me. It wasn't the Russians. It wasn't the lane lines. It was a need to have the world revolve around him and his little Speedo. It was selfish and self-centered and the feeling that everybody else is in the wrong. It is attitude. And not just any attitude, but a bad attitude. An unhealthy, unfriendly attitude.

How do people get through life like this? It seems to me that when your own personal luggage is filled to the brim with so many suitcases of anger, that you'd end up missing out on the joys of life and living and happiness and harmony.

You can share my lane or not, it doesn't matter to me. But do me a favor, leave the attitude - and your eensy teensy teeny weeny little blue Speedo bikini - somewhere far away from the rest of us who are trying our best to keep on smiling and laughing and enjoying our life moments.