Monday, September 23, 2013

Timing Really Is Everything

I've become very aware over the past few days of just how crucial timing can be.  In big ways and in little ways.

A little way: the other day, I hopped into the pool for a swim.  The guy sharing the lane with me apparently didn't see me on his return trip to the wall, because he did a flip turn and totally splashed the shit out of me.

I'm sorry to phrase it so bluntly, but that's what he did, and I think it best that I not mince words about it, since I was really kind of annoyed by it.  So, there.  I said it. 

Splashing someone on a flip turn is an action that always raises my hackles and gets my dander up, because I'm always a bit suspicious when someone does that kind of thing.  I confess: I tend to think maybe they're doing it on purpose.  Because I find it very hard to believe that the person who did it really and truly didn't see me standing right there in front of them, just slightly off to the right.  I'm as blind as a bat, with like 20/800 vision, and even I can see dark-colored, bathing-suited, human-sized masses through fogged-up swim goggles.  In the POOL.  During LAP SWIM time.

I mean, what else could it be, really?  It must be a person.  (It had better be a person.)  And I've seen people do wonderful flip turns and not splash people.  So... I'm just saying.  It shows a lack of awareness, at the very least.

But anyway.  He did it.  It's done.  I got over it (sort of), and moved on.  I began my swim.

When I returned to the wall, he was standing there.  He began waving at me vigorously and yelling, "We can split the LANE.  There's only TWO of us.  We can split the LANE.  Until someone else comes!!!!!"

Yes, I know.  This is why I was standing there like that when you splashed me, because I was going to ask you if you wanted to split the lane.  And it would seem to me that when I nod and start swimming down the same half of the lane I just came back on, it means I heard you, so you don't need to keep yelling "TWO!" after my retreating figure. 

If I can hear you with my ears under water, I'm pretty sure it means you're yelling.  Again, just saying.

So anyway.  I swam for a bit, and then a woman joined us.  I saw her, because I'm like that.  I look where I'm swimming.   But wouldn't you know it, when I got back to the wall, the guy started waving vigorously at me and yelling again.

"We have to swim in a CIRCLE.  There are THREE of us now.  THREE.  THREE!!!"

He actually held up three fingers at me.  I considered holding up one, but I didn't.

Shortly after this incident, I realized I was too annoyed to swim anymore, so I got out.  I felt certain it was only a matter of time before he began waving and shouting at me again and I just couldn't deal with any more of that kind of thing.

Oh, and did I mention he took up the entire lane when he did the Butterfly?  Yeah, that too.  So I swam with the anxious awareness that at any moment I might be inadvertently punched in the face.  Oh well, it's over.  It was just bad timing on my part.

Because if he had said any of these things when I first entered the pool, I probably wouldn't have cared, because at that point, I was thinking, "We should split the lane!  Let's do that!" and I wasn't feeling at all aggravated.

Meanwhile, we found out yesterday that my little section of RI is under a "boil water" advisory because e coli levels are apparently a bit high.  (FYI, I call it "mine," but in fact, I typically share a large portion of the state of RI with quite a few other people.)

A friend dropped by to tell me the news.  He was a bit chagrined because he had been using the contaminated water to make the baby's formula for an entire day.  I was going to tell him that he really shouldn't worry because given the number of bacteria and viruses we're all exposed to on a daily basis, e coli is really the least of anyone's worries, quite frankly.  Of course, infants are somewhat more susceptible, given that their immune systems aren't fully developed, but if you look at infant mortality rates across the past century, really, that baby stands a better chance of survival than many did in previous generations--and not all that long ago--even with being fed bottles laced with e coli.

I did not say this.  As I opened my mouth to do so, I thought of the many times that friends have kindly alerted me to the fact that sometimes--just sometimes--the things that I may find comforting are not really comforting to... other people.  (They never, ever use the phrase "normal people," and this is why they're my friends.)

A friend once explained to me that it's simply that, in my world, knowledge is power and because I like to be prepared for the worst, I find disheartening information useful (albeit disheartening), and I then think of that information as simply "useful," forgetting that it can be a bit disturbing and unexpected to be suddenly (and earnestly) presented with these kinds of odd facts.  More or less out of the blue.

She gently pointed out, "It can seem a little weird to people who don't know you."

I must say, I was very glad she had alerted me to this when I went to a movie with a couple of people I had only recently met.  When I heard one of them whispering to the other person, asking what the prostitute had just said and what it meant, I knew it was best not to lean over and explain what "half-and-half" is.  They will simply have to find out for themselves.

So anyway, I have spent the day boiling whatever water I need, and each time I do, I think of all the times on Saturday and most of Sunday that I just cheerfully used the water, unboiled and unaware that there was any kind of problem.  Because apparently, the water samples were taken "late Friday," and we didn't get the boil advisory until "late Sunday," so in my book, that's a full 48 hours to load up on a whole lot of extra e coli.

So I sent an encouraging "holla!" out to my intestinal tract and reminded it that "we can handle this."  Because it already houses e coli anyway, so what's a few extra house-guests on a weekend, really? I then spent the remainder of the day trying not to think about the fact that e coli gets into the water supply via the intestinal tracts of others.

I think at least part of my devil-may-care attitude is stemming from the fact that I have to read John Hersey's Hiroshima for class this week.  So although I will be devastated and outraged if I come down with a stomach bug (because that's what E coli is, really: a good old fashioned stomach-bug), I suspect that even if I do, I will think, "At least I'm not suffering from the impact of an atomic bomb."

Added to this is the fact that I had a nice ego-boost to compensate for a very disappointing image last spring.  Last fall, I bought a spandexy-type top and tights to wear when I ride my bike in the colder weather.  When I put this outfit on in the spring, I was shocked to realize just how unforgiving stretchy materials are.

I mean, I knew that I had put on 5 lbs over the winter, but I had no idea it would look like that.  It seems to me some of that weight could have been distributed around my wrists or ankles, or on the back of my neck or something.  It shouldn't have all gone to my mid-section.

Anyway, today I put on the same spandexy (yes, that's a word) outfit and I thought, "Well, see, now, nothing wrong with THAT!"  So that was a nice change.  

Like I said, timing is everything.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."