A few weeks ago at dinner, a new friend, S, self-described as “the unreliable bird by the river”, asked me if I liked to swim. I love to swim but had to admit that I left my bathing suit in England. She said, “I could probably unearth a bathing costume for you”. That cinched it. I would never miss an opportunity to wear a bathing costume. And our shower hadn’t worked for over a week. I’d been washing my hair and my body in the kitchen sink. I knew there would be showers where there was a swimming pool. We made a date for me to pick up my costume. I took the stairs.
On the way I worried about what I always worry about when bathing suits are involved. Would it be wider enough for my wide parts and have enough fabric to keep me from feeling like my bits were on display. S handed me a suit. I held it up and thought, that’ll do. The next morning when I tried the suit on it seemed okay though the cups may have been a tad large. Okay, two or three tads too large. They had the conical shape of a 1950’s bra though it wasn’t me making that happen. Shower, swimming. I soldiered on. When I went to pick up S she offered me a pair of socks to fill things out.
We had to sign in. And make a decision about whether we would get a card for a number of visits or pay as we went. And what was the best subscription. And would they take my American credit card. And S had to translate for me since my French is not good enough to follow all of that. All this while a line of French seniors formed behind us … French Revolution anyone?
Card in hand, I spot a vending machine with goggles for sale. I’ll go without earplugs but not goggles. I dig around in my purse for coins, plant myself in front of the machine and manage to figure out which are the adult ones and how many Euros I need to shove in the slot. This also takes a great deal of time and, by now, perspiration on my part.
Entrance to the pool works a bit like a metro station. You slap your card against a dot on the turnstile. When it clicks, you walk through. Unless your card doesn’t quite work yet. You slap a few more times, look back at the desk and the new line forming behind you, dash more sweat from your brow and pray for intervention.
The dressing rooms are like cabinets. About 24” wide by 36 inches long. There is a tiny 5” deep shelf that is supposed to support you as you change out of your clothes and into your suit. Clever me, I’m wearing my suit. I take off my sweater. Unsnap my jeans, bend to untie my boots and …. a knot. I do everything I can to untie this thing and it only becomes tighter. S hears me mumbling and offers to help. I start laughing. She steps over, already dressed for the pool and tries to untie my boot, no luck. Finally she calls over an attendant who very kindly gets a nail clipper for me. I am freed.
The pool was grand, the shower even better.