Ah yes, the relaxing effects of an afternoon swim. That was my plan yesterday. A little treat, an hour or so off from the kids to unwind, recharge and soothe my sleep deprived mind and body. I will float in the pool, wallow in the hot tub and clear my head in the eucalyptus scented steam room, thought I, and therefore, skip home to my beloved children a new, better, smilelier mum.
Except it didn’t quite go down like that.
I had forgotten that the swimming pool is a minefield of potentially awkward situations.
First I had to negotiate my way through the changing rooms. Now, there is an art to deciding where to get changed when there are no closed cubicles. I am not overly prudish but neither am I one of those gym bunnies who is fine displaying their wares to all and sundry so I try to find the perfect spot. Preferably round a corner, a bit hidden from view, not too near anyone else who is changing and as far away from any yelling kids as possible. I get enough of that at home thank you very much.
I found my spot and was beginning to enjoy the fact that I could get ready without having to balance a baby and prevent a toddler from locking himself inside the nearest locker.
Lack of Zen moment number 1: discover that swimsuit is still damp from the last time I went swimming as I forgot to hang it out. Struggle into damp costume which is made all the more unpleasant by the fact that it contains much additional Lycra as it was bought to keep post baby tummy in check.
Get into damp costume, wonder why the very fit and non wobbly 20 year old near by is giving me such pitying looks.
Lack of Zen moment number 2: realise I still have my woolly hat on.
No matter, I remove hat and head for the steam room. I can feel my heart racing already, not from anticipation of a lovely, relaxing steam but from fear. It is a mixed area, blokes and ladies, and you can’t tell from the outside if there is anyone already inside. Years ago I was in a hammam in Milan with a friend of mine. We were in the steam room and this bloke was already there. We were chatting happily away when through the steam I saw my friend’s red face turn very pale. She whispered that we needed to go pronto and not to look at the bloke. I looked at the bloke. He looked back and continued playing with his bits. I haven’t really liked communal steam rooms after that.
Lack of Zen moment number 3: enter this steam room, stay approximately 2 minutes until a bloke comes in and make a swift exit, knowing that he thinks that I think that he also must be a weirdo.
Feeling somewhat frazzled I head for the hot tub. There are 2 hot tubs and there is a distinct art to which you choose. If someone is occupying 1 hot tub you go to the empty one. If both are occupied then you choose the one that has only got women in it. If both have men in them and their hands are under the water you turn around and walk away. This time one is occupied by a bloke so I choose the other one. The lovely bubbles massage my achy back and I start to feel zen. Until bloke number 2 arrives.
Lack of Zen moment number 4: bloke number 2 announces to bloke number 1 that he chose the wrong hot tub as mine looks way better, nod nod wink wink. I leave the hot tub area.
Finally, I get in the pool. It’s gorgeous, just the right temperature and completely empty. The only person around is the usual life guard. I leisurely swim up and down feeling my cares wash away. I flip on my back and glide through the water with seal like agility, eyes closed in happiness.
Lack of Zen moment number 5: I open one eye and realise that I have swum half a length of the pool with my right boob out.
Who said swimming was relaxing?