Friday, August 18, 2017

The Lifeguard

She stands about 5 foot 11 inches. Her tan is bronze. She likes the golden shimmer of her skin because it makes her look skinnier than when she's pasty.  Of course she's not "fat", she's only 22. But she is "thicker" than most of her friends and won't truly appreciate the shape she's in until she's let it all go at the ripe old age of 36.  That's when places like Weight Watchers and The YMCA will take her money like candy from a baby.

She walks around the edge of the pool with her arms swinging out from her body like she has on an invisible utility belt worn by State Patrol's finest. You can sense the power she has with her seniority. She's been working this municipal facility for 2 seasons longer than any of her co-workers and she likes to remind them of it often.  "Back when I started..." was your cue to leave if you didn't want to hear a story about how the bureaucracy of city management has made it so easy to get your whistle and red flotation device. 

Secretly, the children call her The Pool Nazi.  Her whistle sounds long and loud right before she points out the offender for all to see.  "No Running!" she bellows in a voice that is unmatched by prison guards manning The Yard.  Her chest puffs out each time she makes an infraction public.

She seems invincible, but her reign of terror is about to end.

I watched as my tiny 5 year old climbed the stairs to the slide. She has knock-knees and pigeon toes so when she walks her booty sashays left to right. It only accentuates her youth and her very squishy tooshey.  In her frilly bikini she reminds me of a puppy with a belly full of milk.

The Lifeguard is at the top ensuring that no one is under the height requirement. Her tool of choice is a metal pole that swings out from the handrail. If it clears your head, you're too short and get shamed into taking the stairs back down.  My baby knows she's tall enough, this isn't her first rodeo.

The Lifeguard lowered her mirrored aviators as my baby approaches. "Feet against the post" she barks. She swings the metal post out, positive that she's judged her height correctly. Only she was wrong and that metal post swung into my puppy's head like a wrecking ball.  I consoled my baby until her sobs subsided and then I sent that brave little thing down the slide.

The Lifeguard tried to apologize, but I wasn't having it. Any tender emotion I had went down the slide with my baby.  I wasn't going to need words for her to understand that she was about to be demoted. She took her sunglasses off to look me in the eye and I held her gaze.  I cocked my head slightly as if to say "you've been warned." I could see her shoulders slump and her chest deflate.

No other lifeguard was watching, they were too busy doing their jobs. But in her lofty tower she felt exposed and on display for all to see.  She was not perfect, and now she would have to act accordingly.