Practice

(Trigger warning: violence against old ladies)

Last night, I kicked an old lady in the belly.
In my defense she was crowding me.
I thought I just got her leg or something.
It didn’t feel like a belly.
It felt like a leg, or a foot.
And when I was hanging at the end of the lane wiping fog off my goggles and she told me what had happened, I said “I’m sorry.”
Those exact words.
In my defense the pool was really crowded and people in the Austrian pools I’ve experienced have no pool culture.
Normally, you have a lane and you swim laps in it clockwise or counterclockwise.
In a systematic fashion, in other words.
In this pool last night, the left half was being used by kids training for some team and the lower half of the right half was full of very large persons with neoprene gloves standing around for a fitness class, and everyone else was sort of swimming around in what was left over.
Not that it really matters. I also feel uncomfortable in a pool with strict lanes, because what George Carlin says about driving – how all the other drivers are either idiots (slower than you) or maniacs (faster than you) also applies to swimming and I am usually an idiot but sometimes also a maniac, and I don’t like myself in either role.
So I was relieved when my wife got sick of it (and probably didn’t want to listen to anyone else I kicked tell them about the hip operation they just had) and we left and asked for our money back.
We didn’t get our money back but we got credit to use the next time we swim.
It won’t be on a Tuesday, that’s children’s day and they’re the worst.
On paper, Monday looked good – the whole right half of the pool was free, but that’s the difference between theory and practice for you.
Practice is always fucking with you.