Sunday, March 3, 2013

This Wasn't Supposed to be My YMCA...

        Ever see those beer commercials where, from the dude’s point of view, we see that a really hott girl is approaching, until we find out he’s wearing Beer Goggles, or something of the like and it turns out to be Betty White, walking towards him?
   
   (I don’t actually recall a specific beer commercial where that happened, but just go with me on this.)
 
       Oh – I should mention that as I write this, I’m sitting in Shelley’s favorite carpool line. I’m one of the Early Birds for Carpool – the Range Rovered Early Birds and I get here at about 2:30 every day and park outside the school gates. When the car in front of you starts, you turn your car on and everybody pulls forward. The Range Rover in front of me just turned on, but it was a false alarm: she was just turning on the AC because there are about five of us that landed in a section of the line to which the sun has direct access. Shelley’s AC hasn’t been turned on since the cross-country trek out here – lemme tell you what Grace did for AC: MOVED TO THE PASSENGER SIDE.
        No seriously – the passenger side is in the shade. Sorry I’m NOT sorry for being innovative when it comes to-- wait. Cars are moving forward. Excuse me while I vault over the console.

        Beer Goggles and console-vaulting aside, (I’ll come back to the Beer Gogs, I promise) this story begins with my drive home from work. If I finish work any time between 5 and 8 PM, my trek home will involve sitting on the 405 for about 2 hours, like a zombie. So in order to fight said Zombie Apocalypse, I decided to kill time at the Santa Monica YMCA one afternoon, recently.
        This was going to be epic, I could already tell. If the Green Hills Y was crawling with pfh’s (that would be “potential future husbands,” credit: LG Carroll) the SMY would literally be overrun with them. I was so ready to find my own personal Eric Taylor:


        As I pulled into the parking garage, I noticed a sign that said something to the effect of, “California State Law legislates that we tell you that parking here could cause cancer and damage every cell in your body and could make you give birth to seriously deformed children.”
     
         Whatever. Nothing could come between Coach and me. Let the already-deformed-in-my-womb-children try.
     
 I rode the elevator upstairs with two young kids and their mother, who was toting a Disney Princess bag. I remarked, “Love that bag. There was nothing like that when I was their age. I had some Belle socks and that was it…
        She laughed and replied, “Yeah well none of these princesses were around when you and I were little…”
        I wasn’t sure if I should be flattered that I apparently seemed mature enough for this woman to think I was a peer… OR OFFENDED THAT SHE THOUGHT I WAS CIRCA 35 YEARS OLD.

        Whatever. Nothing could come between Coach and me. Let the geriatric insults try.

        So I walked up to the counter and showed my YMCAs of Middle Tennessee card and was told that I could leave the card and my ID at the front desk and use the facilities. Inexplicably, I’d left my wallet at home that day, but also inexplicably: had an expired passport in my purse.
        So I handed it to the woman, with my Y card and mumbled, “It’s actually expired, but it’s got my identification…”

…Sure wish I hadn’t said that.

        She proceeded to tell me that an expired passport absolutely would NOT suffice, and while it genuinely had nothing to do with the Eric Taylor that awaited me inside, I was not going to let this go. She tried to tell me that I couldn't use an expired ID because “if something happened while I was on the premise… we need an updated identification card…” These two sets of ellipses alone, in her little speech, alerted me to the fact that there was no real reason to deny me entry, based on a date stamped on a card: she was just following orders. Which is great… unless they’re totally useless orders.
        I was holding up the line in my arguing with her and she finally shooed me to the side, to be dealt with by some woman she called Louise.
        SHE WAS TURNING ME OVER TO LOUISE!? ANYONE BUT LOUISE! HOW COULD SHE POSSIBLY--
        Oh. Turns out Louise was the reincarnation of Aunt Bee, from Andy Griffith, who sidled on over in her rolling chair with a crinkly, “What can I do for you, dear?”

        I knew what was going to happen about 1.5 seconds before the words flew out of my mouth: I was going to lie, and straight-up-Neal-Caffrey my way into the YMCA.


        I don’t think that I’m actually capable of ‘purring,’ even though it’s a very admirable ability, but if this were my life as a Catherine Coulter FBI thriller novel, the words I said would be followed by “she purred,” as I flashed a smile at Aunt Bee and toyed with my pearls:
        “That woman told me that I should just give you my card and ID and I can pick them up when I leave?”
        LET THE RECORD SHOW: I’m not proud of this moment. I’m not proud of smooth-talking Aunt Bee into letting me into the Young Man’s Christian Association with an expired passport when I knew it was "against the rules," but I’m also fortunately not Jafar, or some other villain from a Disney movie that I TOTALLY WATCHED DURING MY CHILDHOOD,  CAUSE THAT’S WHEN THEY ALL CAME OUT, so my qualms were few.
        Measly dishtowel in hand (I’d just like to mention that the hand towels are unlimited at the Green Hills Y, but here in Santa Monica they’re more stingy, probably due to the ridiculous save-the-whales laws everywhere – DON’T get me started on the time that a woman tried to charge me for a plastic bag at Micahels’ because it’s literally “illegal” for them to offer plastic bags to customers) I made my way to the locker room, quickly becoming more disheartened by the step:

…I wasn’t going to find Eric Taylor, here.

And on top of that: I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN.

        Allow me to explain my thinking, and why I’d been under the impression that I’d be in a mecca full of Eric Taylors. In Nashville, the Y is the place for good-looking, up-standing, young and single (and ok who isn’t also thinking “well-bred and well educated”?) men to work out. It is. It’s like a watering hole, or something. 

So foolishly, I thought I’d find the same, here.

        But how could I, when the watering holes of Santa Monica are those hippie self-workout scenes on the beach? Or worse: Equinox?



        I could rail against the joke that was the weight room, with cardio machines that were seriously from 1970, but as promised, I shall now bring it back to the Beer Goggles.
        I was doing abs on that contraption that allows you to lean down when you’re perched on your side, to work the external obliques, when this older gentleman approached me, and looking back, I think I truly expected a reverse of the Beer Goggles: the whole YMCA venture had gone so completely wrong that I thought it only fair that the universe bestow a Tim Riggins upon me, at least.

…But as this man got closer, I only saw more age lines on his face: no T. Rigg for Grace.
     
        I was so disappointed by the bleak outlook of my future at this point that I was only half-listening to whatever this guy said. Something about how he damaged his back on this mechanism back in ’75. I’m not even making that up. Or maybe something about “when he was seventy-five;” he could have been 90, for all I know.
        Fortunately, my experience afterwards at the Santa Monica Public Library was a little more thrilling: the only open seat at the “study tables” (where I could plug in my computer) was next to a gentleman who looked something like this:



        Should I be arrested for the above picture? Probably. I took it at the airport last May, to send to my mother, in response to her asking if I had any celebrity sightings at Los Angeles International. The caption read: “Of COURSE there were ZERO sightings – I’m flying Southwest. BUT the PFH gods DID bestow this little gem upon me…”
        Some people steal things, for the adrenaline rush. I take pictures of hott guys and try not to get caught, for the adrenaline rush. (I should also remark that this has inspired a later post: "This Wasn't Supposed to be my Special Skill," about taking stalker pictures
I’m clearly so off track right now, it’s a joke. But LET THE RECORD SHOW: I risked exposing my truly-stalker behavior, just now, ALL for the sake of entertaining the people.

And as for the Santa Monica YMCA, I will quote my personal American Idol, Kelly Clarkson: NEVER AGAIN.


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