The Landlubbers Club

My fully clothed buddies and I are in the pool area at the gym, breathing the heady aroma of chlorine. Normally we pretend there is no pool because we don’t think of ourselves as swimmers. Translation: we don’t have the guts to scamper the twenty feet from the ladies’ locker room to the pool with our thighs showing.

However, our brave buddy Janis is taking the plunge. We’re here to cheer and be on hand to rescue her if she gets in trouble.

There’s not much chance of drowning, since this pool is four feet deep, and Janis is five-foot-ten.

She’s tastefully attired in what we used to call an old-lady suit with a skirt, but this little number is very flattering.

“From Victoria’s Secret,” Janis says as she inches her willowy body into the pool. She looks terrific.

“Is that one of those miracle suits?” I ask.

Janis is already under water.

“They’re supposed to make you look ten pounds thinner by squishing your middle with girdle fabric. Only problem, if you have flab like I do, it has to go somewhere.”

“Thus the cunning, camouflaging skirt,” Linda says. “The real miracle is how you’re supposed to breathe with your middle in a vice.”

“I have a suit with a comfortable shelf bra,” Toni says. “But my shelving doesn’t match the shelf anymore.”

“I want to get one of those tankini tops with boy surfer shorts. No need to wax or shave.”

“I wish I could shave off a few pounds,” Linda says.

“Don’t they call that liposuction?” Susan asks.

“I’m not so worried about a suit, but I hate getting my face in the water,” Linda says. “If I could swim without getting my head wet, I’d be the first one in the pool.”

“Yeah,” Susan says. “I took lessons in college but always got water up my nose.”

“You could try the backstroke.” Toni passed junior lifesaving as a teenager, so she knows all about swimming.

“What about nose plugs?” I ask.

“They seem like good idea,” Linda says. “My cousin was into synchronized swimming, and she bought nose plugs by the dozen. But since I don’t like to get my face wet, I never tried them.”

Janis stops to catch her breath. She’s wearing a gunmetal gray swim cap.

“Is that thing keeping your hair dry?” “I hope so,” Janis says. “My aunt Beulah did water ballet until she was ninety. She had a pink suit and a bathing cap with a pink rose on top. It kept her hair dry.”

“Remember those flower-head caps from the ’60s?” Susan asks.

We do. And we want them back.

“That settles it,” Toni says. “I’m taking up water ballet. I don’t care if my toes won’t point. I want a pink swim cap with a rose.”

“Before you put your cap on you’re supposed to wet your hair with regular water and conditioner,” Susan says. “That way the chlorine doesn’t have a chance.”

“Sounds like a lot of trouble,” I say. “But then my entire hair-care arsenal consists of one bottle of Trader Joe’s shampoo. I hear chlorine gives your hair extra body.”

“It makes frizz,” Toni says. “And if you have light hair like me, it’ll turn it green.”

“Since I don’t plan on getting wet above the neck, I don’t need to worry,” Linda says.

“You could keep your head above water with pool exercises,” I say. “I hear they’re really great for the arms and legs.”

“What about the waist?” Toni asks. She tries to stick her flat stomach out.

“If you want a waist, you’re going to have to get some hips,” Susan says.

Toni’s as skinny as when she was in high school, but we like her anyway.

Janis swims back to our end of the pool. “My heart’s pounding. This is great exercise.”

We see this is true, but we’re not yet quite ready to take the plunge.

“What about the Jacuzzi,” Susan suggests. “Couldn’t we bubble in there after Pilates and then just kick our legs a little while we watch Janis swim?”

“We could do that without nose plugs or bathing caps,” I say.

“I’ll bring the bonbons and movie magazines,” Linda offers.

Susan says, “I’ll bring a thermos of pink martinis.”

“They’ll match my new pink swim cap,” Toni says.

Janis finishes her laps and climbs out of the pool. “Wow, the steps are steeper than when I got in.”

She’s dripping water everywhere, and she’s our hero.