I learned this week that I’m more Baywatch Babe then Golden Girl. Normally that would make me sing and dance and go buy a new outfit, but instead, I was stricken. Seriously. I’ve been depressed ever since it happened.
I swim. It’s how I get my exercise. And in order to swim year-round, I purchased a membership at our local university pool, since it’s indoors. It’s usually a treat to swim there, but in the summers it gets crowded. And that’s great; everyone has a right to enjoy the water. But it’s hard to exercise with people screaming and kicking and splashing in your face.
A few weeks ago, I arrived a little early, expecting to sit on the bench and wait until the pool officially opened. Lo and behold, it was already open, and there was a class of ladies and gentlemen working out! No children or teenagers, or young adults who act like children or teenagers, anywhere around. I’d found my tribe!
I looked at the lifeguard. “Is the pool open?”
“It’s senior swim,” he said. As in, senior adults.
“May I join them?”
So for the last several weeks I was a senior. They loved me, and I loved them, and we swam happily ever after. Until yesterday.
Yesterday, as I sat down on the bench to put my swim cap on, a sweet young lifeguard plopped down beside me. “I have to talk to you,” she said.
“Okay,” I answered, wondering what in the world she could want to say. I mean, she’s adorable, but she’s not my tribe.
“Yesterday, my boss stopped by during senior swim, and he wanted to know why you were swimming. I want you to swim. You’re great; you’re polite and respectful and there are only a few people in the pool at this time. But my boss said I have to tell you that you’re not allowed to swim. It’s their time.”
“Oh,” I said. I wondered if these people knew how old I really am. I mean, if AARP lets you in, one would think the senior swim would give you a pass. “How old do you have to be?” I was totally ready to whip out my drivers’ license. I belong with the seniors, I tell you.
“I don’t know,” she said. “Since you’re already here, you can swim today, but in the future we need you to wait until one o’clock.”
She was so sweet about the whole thing, I didn’t have the heart to argue with her. Plus, it’s a compliment, really. They think I’m young.
They think I’m young!
That’s a good thing, right?
But no matter how nice a compliment it may be, rejection never feels good. And they never, ever once, asked me how old I am. And I’ll just bet they don’t card all the other people in the senior swim class. I feel discriminated against. And my feelings are hurt. And I’m just plain depressed about the whole thing.
So today, I dragged myself to the pool during the regular hours, telling myself that if I saw the boss, I’d show him my driver’s license and prove that I’m old. AARP and all.
I saw him.
I chickened out.
I don’t like confrontation.
I tried to exercise in the crowded pool, tried to ignore the people playing tag and swimming in my path again and again. When I got splashed, I just turned away and pasted an I’m-not-really-smiling grin on my face. And I reminded myself that I’m grateful to have a place to swim at all.
I’m grateful to have my mother’s genes, that lie about my age in a nice way.
And I’m grateful that God is good. Even when I get kicked out of my tribe.
Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly-perfect children, and far too many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com.