Dips at the Pool

November 25, 2008

On Saturday I dragged my sorry, skinny carcass down to the former Lake Victoria Hotel, in awkward transition to the New Libyan Hotel. I found a private cabana with striped canvas walls that could be pulled down for a truly private experience. However, mid-way through creating my private cave, a guy with a navel the size of a navel orange decided to join me.


Luckily I had my iPod on, which communicated “no communicado” loud and clear to me, and surprisingly, him too. I abandoned thoughts of privacy as part of me didn’t really want to be in such an intimate closed-off proximity with my new friend. His belly button, clearly not an innie, kept pulling my eyes over in his direction like a magnet. I could see it out of the corner of my eye the whole time, even as I tried to read my book. Earlier he passed by me wearing a burgundy t-shirt that read “LIQUOR…she’ll like it.” Ew. No I wouldn’t. Then I imagined licking his navel and had to swallow back the vomit in my mouth.
I ordered a soda water from the pool boy in too-big white running shoes. He walked in carefully placed baby steps with his wobbly tray, like he was trying desperately to avoid all the cracks, so he didn’t break his mother’s back. A hairy behemoth cannonballed into the deep end, jackass-style. When he surfaced he proceeded to nose jet three times. I watched as a young boy flung himself in the deep end with a red lollipop, unaware and unconcerned about nose-jet floaties attaching themselves to his lolly. He submerged several times, and came up licking. I was horrified. The couple beside me suggested that next time the nose-jetter got in the pool, that perhaps he should take off his sweater. How true, there is technology for that. If women worry about French and Brazilians for an audience of one, Mr. Sweater-Nose-Jetter could have the decency to remove the fur on his back. I’ve massaged his type, and I know they shed like golden retrievers. How could I enter the pool now? If any of his hairs or snot clung to me I would surely scream and drown.
The sun beat down and sweat ran in tiny rivulets down my ribs and legs. I had to dip in at least once. I had enough bacteria in me anyway, no new bacteria would even dare enter my system. I managed one lap consisting of 10 lazy strokes and a float in between. This is when the Wales rugby team arrived with their rock-hard beer guts marching before them. In true macho fashion, they had brought their little rugby ball too. Two guys found a patch of grass the width of a bowling lane and began flexing their biceps and sucking in their guts. It didn’t take long before they thought chucking the rugby ball across the pool was a fabulous idea. I dunno, is it just me? I have this aversion to hard things being thrown in my general direction at high speeds. It might stem from the time at summer camp when I stepped off the bus and Tim Doyle clocked me right in the head with a Frisbee. Oh, how I wanted to cry and curl into a shrimp-ball, but had to laugh it off instead. Tim Doyle was the hunkiest kayak instructor at Red Pine Lake. I could take a Frisbee to the head, no problem.
The rugby ball sailed back and forth, and a crowd of sleazy UN guys flip-flopped by. Each of them had a temporary love interest on their arm. I thought of their wives back home as they took to the water, teaching the Ugandan women how to swim. The swim lessons were more like underwater heavy petting. For three hours one of the couples played one-handed catch with a nerf ball. Obviously they were platonic because the other two couples were like Saran Wrap, twisting their limbs together as closely as possible on the lounge chairs and laughing hysterically.
After my week of rice and bananas, I was eager for some substance, and when I saw a croque madam go by, I knew this would put me on the path to wellness. All the perfect elements were there: buttery bread, cheese, ham and pineapple. I waved to the tip-toeing pool boy and ordered. I examined my skin for wayward stranger’s pubic hairs and settled back in my lounger.
A tiny Asian women strolled by with a parasol, already wearing her swim goggles. In fact, she sat down and sucked back half a bottle of Coca Cola through a straw with pursed lipsticked lips, with her goggles still on before entering the pool. I guess it’s okay to wear sunglasses at night if you can wear goggles as sunglasses during the day. Corey Hart was ahead of his time.
The thing about swimming is, it just doesn’t look pretty. There’s no way to hide a desperate gasp for breath, and as I watched a few lappers with angry snarls and pained grimaces on their faces–sucking in air before their next few strokes, I decided to stick to running.
A lady in her 50s approached the poolside with great trepidation. The assholes were still chucking the rugby ball, and acting very much like they were at a frat house party. I watched the woman pull at the unforgiving floral fabric of her suit, and I was sad and shy for her. She swam laps with her head above water the whole time, and a weak smile on her face. I wanted to hug her and buy her chocolate bars.
All day the pool area smelled strangely of pancakes and not quite enough chlorine for my liking. I like the guaranteed sanitized scent, when the chlorine burns your eyes and nasal passages and immediately eats away at your bikini. As the sun lowered in the sky, the pancake smell finally gave way to the smoky grill and the flesh of fish and goat spitting on the embers.
My croque madam arrived with a heap of chips (service is friendly, but not necessarily efficient, it is recommended that you place your order two hours before you anticipate being hungry). I ate it as fast as a bulimic before I could think about consequences. I was beginning to feel like someone with a lethal peanut or seafood allergy. I had to refrain from asking the pool boy, ‘’excuse me, but, is there shit in this?’’ Indeed, there was more shit in the pool, including a lot of UN saliva, so I couldn’t go too wrong with a croque madam.
Between greedy bites of madam, I watched a lily-white guy walk as proud as a peacock in my general direction. He was smiling like a Cheshire cat as he approached two kids sitting cross-legged on loungers by the pool. “Hiiiii!”He bellowed, startling me even. ‘’Wanna make pretty picture? Do you know crayons? You make pretty picture with crayon!’’ He handed the kids colouring books and crayons in a Santa-like fashion. I looked at this guy with a knitted brow. Why was he speaking English as a second language? He marched back to the other side of the pool, letting out a big sigh, like he had just given these poor African children hope. Now, not to poke fun or be judgmental, but the dork had given colouring books to two kids at the four star Lake Victoria Hotel. Their father had just walked up to the bar to get the kids Cokes and a plate of fries. Dad wore what I suspect was an Armani suit and had an iPhone pressed to his ear. The kids were head-to-toe in GAP outfits. Hell, the kids were probably American! I couldn’t help but think if this guy had walked 10 minutes in any direction from the hotel, he would have found kids who had never seen crayons. Kids who would have taken the crayons and eaten them for that matter.
I stayed at the pool until the sun dropped into a hot orange ball on the horizon. Until the UN guys left with their pseudo wives and the kid finished his snotty lollipop. I walked home in the dying light, sticky and content. My skin kissed by the sun and my body beginning to feel like my own again, not Kate’s Moss’ rack.

Categories: Into and Out of Africa | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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