You just knew it wasn't all over with Madge, didn't you?
I scared her off the other day with my Teacher Look, but she must have been feeling under the weather, not quite her usual hideous self. Maybe she had a sniffle, a headache, or a sudden smiting with fire and brimstone from above. Who knows? Anyway, we had another encounter in the pool today and the old bat was in rare form.
So I was in the pool, naturally, doing my usual routine. I'd been there for about twenty-five minutes and was deep into cardio and feeling good, which was, incidentally, a feeling that was going to be leaving me shortly.
Madge came in - she's recognizable because she always comes in wearing a yellow bathrobe with a duck on the back - and I didn't worry about her because there were three open lanes. I was in my usual "step lane," the lane I always use because the lap swimmers don't like to use it: the set of steps that the handicapped use to get into the pool descends into the lane and shortens it by about six feet. So imagine my surprise when Madge came down the steps into the pool and hollered at me, "I'm swimming in this lane now, so MOVE."
The aquatics director happened to be walking by on the pool deck just about then and her head whipped around, her mouth and eyes open in astonishment. Me, I wasn't really much surprised. So I was ready for her.
I looked her square in the eye. "Can you say 'please'?" I asked with a tight smile.
"No," she said shortly. "This is lap swim time and you're not swimming laps, so move."
"I'm not moving because you are so incredibly rude. You can't come in here and demand that people move," I said determinedly. Because, listen: I don't want to start things with people. I don't. I'm not that kind of person. However, I'm no stranger to the fact that some people don't respond to either niceness or reason, which leaves standing up for yourself in a dignified yet rock-solid manner. I'd never scream curse words at anyone, especially an ancient old lady who looks like a manatee. But I'll be squizzled if I'm going to let some pushy old harridan order me around like she's Catherine-the-Freakin-Great, either.
The aquatic director spoke up: "Madge, this is not just lap swim time. This is lap swim and water jog time and you can't tell people to move."
"THIS HAS ALWAYS BEEN LAP SWIM TIME," Madge trumpeted, whirling about in the water like a hippopotamus preparing to charge.
"Well, it isn't anymore," said the director, frowning and putting her hands on her hips.
"I'VE BEEN SWIMMING HERE FOR SEVEN YEARS AND I AM SWIMMING IN THIS LANE," Madge shouted.
I drew a deep breath and looked her straight in the eye, feeling like I was getting ready to draw my revolver to fire the first shot at the OK corral. "No, you're not, you big bully."
Madge recoiled in shock. "You," she spluttered, "are MEAN." Which seemed a bit of the pot calling the kettle dirty bottom, but Madge is obviously one of those old folks who is more than willing to use her advanced age into manipulating people into doing her bidding.
"MADGE," bellowed the aquatics director, looking like she was fixin' to jump into the pool and drag Madge out by her hair, "either move to another lane or GET OUT OF THE POOL."
"You're not really swimming," Madge said bitterly, looking at me hatefully. "What you're doing doesn't count." (Like that floating-on-the-back and using her hands as paddles maneuver she does is equal to a 500 meter freestyle at the Olympic trials.)
"Maybe not," I said evenly. "But whatever it is or isn't, I'm doing it in this lane."
Eating with Ellie: March to Your Own Drummer - African Peanut Stew - The 90th recipe I made with the Eating with Ellie group is African Peanut Stew, and can be found in Ellie Krieger's book You Have It Made, on page 271. The...
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