It was freezing in the locker room at the indoor swim center on Wednesday night. I was there with my four year old, who has finally started to like his swimming lessons because he wants to swim like Qi Gonn and Obi Wan swim in The Phantom Menace. I don't think that the Jedis yell "cannonball!" while they jump into their mothers' arms from the side of the pool, but even Jedis have to start somewhere.
When you walk into the swim center on a freezing evening in January, you're thinking only about why someone didn't force you to put down the crack pipe before you even thought about putting on a damn bathing suit and getting into a pool. Then it's a little warmer in the vestibule, and you think it might just be bearable. As you sign in in the front lobby, your shoulders unclench a little more. You walk into the locker room, and it feels quite comfortable, even balmy right near the sauna. Then you enter the glass enclosed natatorium, and it's a tropical haven of rest. The swim lessons take place in the "leisure pool", which is heated to about 80 degrees or so. Orchids would flourish in there. You spend 30 minutes or so in the lovely warm water, helping your four year old paddle with a flotation device under his arms, then catching him as he jumps, then bribing him with potato chips if he'll try to float on his back. Then the class ends, and the gradual entry into the humid warmth of the natatorium is reversed. First of all, despite the signs EVERYWHERE imploring people to PLEASE, for GOD'S SAKE, come into the pool area through the locker room and not through the emergency doors, because anyone walking past those emergency doors in a wet swimsuit will be assaulted with a blast of frigid air, someone always comes clomping through the emergency doors just as we're walking past them in wet swimsuits and damp towels. Then, the locker room that seemed pretty toasty when you were entering it from the cool lobby which you'd entered from the freezing cold parking lot is suddenly not so delightfully cozy anymore. It's like a walk-in at a slaughterhouse. We shower, and start to feel our extremities again, although the four year old's lips have turned bluish purple. Wrapped in towels, we find our locker so that we can get some damn clothes on.
Here's where it gets funny. Something you should know about me is that I'm RIDICULOUSLY modest. (Shocking, right?) I'm totally fine in a bathing suit, and in fact, I spend a good 30% of the summer dressed in little else. But naked in public is out of the question. Out, I tell you. And the women's locker room at an indoor pool totally counts as "in public". So getting out of the wet swimsuit and back into my clothes always presents a challenge. On Mondays, it's not so bad, since there aren't many other things going on at the pool and the locker room is relatively quiet. On Wednesdays, however, there are Masters' Swimming classes and practice for high school teams. Meaning that the locker room is FILLED with people when the 4yo and I are ready to change.
The first order of business is to get 4yo dressed and warm, so I have a few minutes, surrounded by chattering teenagers and unabashedly jaybird-naked older ladies, to remain securely wrapped in my towel. Maybe they'll get dressed quickly and get the hell out! And maybe monkeys will fly out of my (decently covered) ass! These people are in NO hurry WHATSOEVER, and I can't just stand here. I'm near hypothermia. So I resort to The Procedure.
The Procedure is performed as follows:
1. Re-wrap the towel, ensuring that it is firmly fastened, but not so tight that mobility is restricted.
2. Take off the bathing suit. This is a Procedure within a Procedure. You must first take the straps off your shoulders. Then, ease the suit downward so that it's entirely below the towel. Checking the towel once again, you then slip the suit off altogether. Now, you're dressed in just a towel. Check the towel again.
3. Put on underpants and pants (underneath the towel, of course). This part's pretty easy.
4. Slip a bra on OVER the towel. When you're sure that you're covered, you can allow the towel to drop a bit so that the bra can be fastened.
5. Put on your shirt. You're dressed and no one has seen a thing!
The Procedure is adjusted as needed. Key to the effectiveness of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is the ability to recognize areas for improvement, and to incorporate those improvements in revisions. I realized on Wednesday night that if you wear a zipper hoodie, of which there is no shortage in my dresser, Steps 4 and 5 are noticeably easier. Thus, these steps will be updated in SOP Version 4.1.2. I will alert all readers when revisions are approved and finalized. Meanwhile, Version 4.1.1. will serve you adequately should you find yourself cold, damp and nearly naked in a wide open locker room. You're welcome.