Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Shallow End

Shin splints have sidelined me from my usual exercise regimen of step, interval training, hiking and Zumba.  Instead I’ve been using the rowing machine, doing abdominal work and lifting weights. 

I’ve also added water aerobics to my schedule and have taken a few deep-water classes to get my heart pumping without impacting my injured leg. 

Today, the Y didn’t offer a deep water class so, while participants grooved and weaved in the shallow end of the pool, I stayed on the deep side and followed the instructor (modifying my movements as needed).

What do you think of whenever water aerobics gets mentioned? Do you think it’s silly and sissy? You aren’t alone. In my experience most folks laugh and conjure up images of plump blue-haired ladies bobbing around in shower caps to Rod Stewart singing “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy.” 

But – let me tell you – it can be very challenging!  And I admire every single person who has the courage to strap on a Speedo and take the proverbial plunge.

There I was this very morning: Huffing and puffing in the deep end.  Concentrating on my movements. Churning the water like a shark chasing chum.  Cross-country skiing, Peter-Panning, mini-moguling, windmilling, starfishing and hoedowning.

I failed to notice the senior men paddling around me (during the recreational swim designated for the deep end). As the hour progressed their circle tightened until I had to watch carefully where I was kicking. A few lingering smiles, a few nods, a few too many g'mornings.

When I climbed out of the pool and headed for the showers, a trio of septuagenarians stood in my path.  Stood where they didn’t need to be standing.  Poised to accidentally-on-purpose talk to me right in front of the women's locker room door which is a full 50 feet away from the men's locker room door. 

Time out. 

I just want to say that this brings up all sorts of conflicting and uncomfortable feelings.  If these men were my age (55) or younger, would I mind as much? Would I be flattered? Would I be affronted?  Would it be creepy? Would I be intrigued?

I want to be nice. I see no reason not to brighten a stranger's day – and mine – with friendliness. Even if someone is testing the slightly lecherous water, I think it’s best to assume the best and hope it turns out to be the case.

So I smiled broadly and wished them all a great day.  And then one of the white-haired gentlemen stepped toward me to prevent me moving.

“Excuse me,” he said, licking his lips and leaning toward me, “Excuse me, but you look just like a beautiful Russian lady I used to date. May I ask you your background, your nationality?”

What would you have said?  Because all I could come up with – as I ducked around him and into the safety of the women's locker room – was “Scots-Irish.”

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