sure i’m gawking, but not in that pervy kind of way

I don’t get this whole Superbowl thing. I guess our state’s pro team is competing today and I hear they have been fairly sucky for decades, so it’s some big deal they’ve got a shot. But I don’t understand why in the world people who don’t follow or know much about football suddenly suspend their life and spend all day watching it and all the exhausting hoopla that accompanies it. I guess it helps justify an all-day party; at least that I can understand. And heck, there’s always the chance we might see some illicit partial nudity again (although I hear the Stones are playing the halftime show and I’m not sure I need to see Mick Jagger’s man-tits anytime in my life, no offense to Mick whom I love).

Superbowl Sunday is nice break for those who don’t participate (in our case out of apathy, not any intentional statement), because everyone stays home and the world at large is relatively mellow. Today we hit the road to head to Sequim’s amazing public pool. My kids are no longer, if they ever were, fragile creatures to handle carefully in the water. Of course like all Mamas I do have that Totally Silly Overblown Fear for my children; mine is that they might drown or be swept away in the water. Funny I should also enjoy swimming and have lived on the West Coast my entire life. Or maybe that’s why I have that particular fear. Today I watched as my kids climbed in and out of the water, supremely confident. Nels in a pair of jean shorts that Sophie was wearing only months ago; Sophie in a too-tight Walmart bright orange sequined suit her Grazdma bought her. My husband is in shorts he keeps adjusting so as not to give an unintentional eyeful to any of the little kids who spend their whole time underwater in googles.

I am fascinated by body-watching at the pool. You see people in their skins in a way that seems so essential. A man strides out of the dry sauna, so tall and large as to be almost startling, his beautiful ruddy brown skin taut across his protruding yet powerful belly. A swarthy rail-thin grandsire sitting with legs dangling in the hydro pool and holding his preteen grandson as familiarly as a pet, stroking the boy’s hair with a wonderful tenderness. An adolescent girl with translucent, perfectly pale skin and three rings in her face and long gleaming limbs folded around a horridly cramped body posture that hates itself. In the showers, a stylishly slender woman of fortysomething, bent over helping her son rinse off, the two cheeks of her backside collapsed and swaying as gently as large palm leaves. Women corpulent, fat; women whose abdomens and thighs have fold upon fold and ripples in every crease. A woman near seventy with thighs barelled and scarred and pocked, but the smoothest, palest breasts and tiny fresh pink nipples younger-looking than my own.

My daughter is confident, stripping her suit and putting her clothes on and tugging her seal-wet ponytail and bundling up her towel. She tells me, “That was a pretty good time at the pool!” and marches ahead to wait in the lobby. For lunch we head to our favorite coffee shop in town and the kids eat their veggie sandwiches on dark bread that their Daddy packed; pretzels, hot steamed milk. A small cup of cranberry walnut ice cream. Ralph and I talk in the drive home and watch the children droop further and further into sleep; their skin shiny and clean and filled with a satisfied exhaustion.

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