I'm kind of proud of that title. I flatter myself that it sounds like something Jane Austen might have come up with. Er, something with which Jane Austen might have come up. Up with something Jane Austen might have come?
Anyhoo, Madge, the elderly woman I encountered at the YMCA pool a few weeks ago, the one who told me, obnoxiously, that she was going to swim in my lane? I met her again today in the clear, chlorinated waters of the shallow end. All the lanes were in use by lap-swimmers; I myself was moving into my fortieth minute of high-cardio aqua aerobics and was feeling particularly sassy.
So when Madge came down the steps into the pool, she didn't look in my direction. But she did start moving toward me with a purposeful stride and it was pretty obvious that she was going to come up to me and attempt to commandeer my lane in her imperious way. I was all, like, grimly, "Hells to the no!" and was ready to square off with her, if I needed to. Because remember, I am both a mother and a teacher, which means that I am possibly one of the bossiest people alive, except for maybe Hugo Chavez. And one of the mores of a peaceful and prosperous planet is that people need to learn to wait their turns. Old or young, poor or wealthy, people need to stop being so freaking pushy and acting like the axis of the world runs through the middle of their ridiculous heads. For heaven's sake, just BE POLITE.
So I left her approach me, and when she got within six feet, I turned the ol' laser eye on her, that look which clearly says Do Not Frigging Mess With Me. It's not so much an entire facial expression as it is a dangerous glint in the eye, that same one Mel Gibson had in the Franco Zeffirelli-directed Hamlet, when he put some manners on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. It's the same look I give to whisperers, note-passers, eye-rollers and sigh-heavers. And it works.
Madge stopped short and looked around, nonplussed, probably searching for someone else to persecute. Seeing that there was no option, she turned and went back to the steps, climbing out to sit on the bench, just like everyone else does when they're waiting for a lane to open. And while her head was turned away, the lifeguard caught my eye across the splashing of four swimmers and gave me a double thumbs-up.
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