I've been quite tender about the Equinox swimming pool, even rather complimentary.
It plays a nice supporting role in my new book, almost Oscar qualified -- it did, the pool, transform my life. After my Englishman left this planet, my body decided to give up walking. Lie down. Die.
Bullied into swimming, I survived. Became friendly with the fierce lean young woman in red Speedo who did three laps to my one. This was when the pool was still L.A. Sports Club; a year before Equinox came with its Super Pac and decided the club needed upgrading. The gym is near the 405, you see, which is setting major examples for why home improvements don't -- I mean don't -- improve.
So the 405, which I've told you has won the Worst Traffic Awards in USA over the past five years, must have inspired Equinox; the department of competitive corporate power games; the fix-ups that create fuck ups.
Everyone agrees the pool was the best in L.A. That's why some of us pay membership fees rather than buy Ferraris. That's why we perch forever, waiting for a lane, fall in love with the staff, the parking guys. Milton, all Johnny Depp allure. And Jose, with his concerned bear hugs. And all this, the appetizer for the long swim down the mesmerizing cool of the sky-lit lanes.
I learned to walk again because to get to the pool from the changing room you have to climb fifty-six steps. Why not make it Thirty-Nine steps, I wondered, in honor of the movie. I could think of thirty-eight other movies as I climb. During the first months, I'd have to stop, every three steps. Breathe. Now the staircase seems no more daunting than the steps to my back door porch. No big deal.
And, at first, swimming 15 minutes felt like a challenge; now a half hour is nothing. I like to come in the evening when no one is here and I can swim as long as I like. The lights are low, and you see the Moon and the romance of the night sky.
So. Just before Thanksgiving; I approached the stairs to find a ragged strip of cloth binding the pool steps, and a notice:
"Due to improvements, you'll have to take the elevator to second floor, walk across gym to pool."
In a bathing suit?! Through the burly network of robot exercise machines and their steely alpha people in forceful workout mode. And, then, (what?) to come back through that ferocious arena, all wet, dragging towels? And for how long?
That was only the half of it. Not only was something needing to be done to the stairs (which had been re-tiled six months ago), but now the great glass walls around the pool were sullen, hung-over with drop clothes. "Improving the tile." We were told. "Fixing what needs not to be fixed," said Red Speedo. "Only about 10 days," informed sources confirmed.
"Yeah." We agreed. So very not convinced.
Pool was embarrassed, as I am, saronged in wet towels, skittering through the muscle brigade then down through the sleek lobby.
You can handle everything, I remind myself, recalling that they did have robes for executive members. I suggested to management one might make robes available for mortals during the reconstruction period; was presented with man's robe. Started to put it on. Filthy. I placed it on manager's desk. So what is this?
"So sorry. You'll have robes in a few days. And if you leave your keys, or ID with us you can use one."
Trust. A trusting management is such a comfort. My keys, I explain, are with Milton and Jose who park my car. That's one. Two: I don't leave ID with anyone. Just as it was with the 98 steps -- who recalls -- I'm now used to walking invisible in wet towels through the gym. May try it at Landmark on Saturday nights to see if they'll find me a seat at a movie I want to see.
So anyway, it's been 10 days; soon the pool will be done! And for Christmas I will pretend Equinox is my cruise ship and swim everyday, lounge on the new couches, drink protein smoothies to toast the New Year, and write something or other.
Not likely. Our sources in Benghazi tweeted Red Speedo and me that the pool will be totally closed for two weeks, during December. Guess which weeks. I myself will bypass the 405 -- go speeding up the coast highway to Malibu and take up surfing with that guy in Zuma. No one owns the ocean. Not yet.