I am giggling to myself , camped out on the top floor of SBAC which has undergone extensive remodeling. I was heartbroken last summer when they did away with the pro shop and the new corporate ownership has definitely changed the club and not entirely for the better though the fancy pilates studio is nice. I found a plug after much searching to do a quick blog with a head’s up about a few good pieces in Sunday’s “Review” section the New York Times.
But I have to explain why I look like a mental patient, laughing to myself as I sit on my Macbook Pro sipping the carrot/apple/ginger/low cal frozen yogurt shake I dreamt about at length during my nap and decided I simply had to have though I am meeting J at Fresco for dinner in an hour. When I walk up to the desk to explain I am here only for a shake, not to work out, there is what seems like a new (and not nice) lady next to the blonde with whom I had words a few months ago over my 4PM arrival and desire to swim for 20 minutes. And she glared at me.
For those of you who didn’t know me then, there is a blonde who’s been here some time. She is now apparently engaged and very proud of herself for finding someone to put up with her (till death do they part) and to give her a fairly impressive rock. I wrote a public Facebook note about her–”Don’t Fuck with Victorian Chick!”–when she so irked me I had to unleash my verbal wrath on this insufferable woman, about 30 I’d guess. She doesn’t look a day under her age, by the way, from the neck up, though I realize my standards are coastal: Southern CA and NYC (plus anything within an hour of the city). We have different standards of beauty, weight, and youth on the coasts.
As I wrote in my note (and subsequently in milder form on Victorian Chick), the people who work at SBAC from the janitors to the trainers, the teachers to desk people, are all wonderful. The old manager and I (and my mother who intervened on my behalf) had words but she was a great woman who did so much for breast cancer charity. She threatened to cancel my membership because the minuscule locker room has nowhere to chill out after a steam. So apparently someone complained that I would lie down or stretch a bit on the benches. It isn’t my fault the bonehead SB architect built locker rooms the size of closets! She was actually quite cruel to me in her letters and on the phone and I cried a lot about it. That was oh, 12 years ago.
I love Flavia and Lourdes, both maintenance women, who have known me a decade I think and it really is a family. We speak in Spanish exclusively and I always laugh a lot with both of them. But this chick is a piece of work and never, since 1998 when I joined, have I met a more irritating person here. I was across the street at the DMV and a couple years ago, I got the non-primetime membership which knocks off about 30 or 35 bucks from the monthly dues. This means that for over a decade, though I never used the club from 4 to 8 (I came at 8PM on weekdays and 6PM on weekends before the 8PM closure), I was paying the full membership dues. The DMV was typically efficient so I arrived an hour late, at 4PM, and wanted to swim 20 minutes. The desk girl wasn’t great but she was young and who cared.
Then I got the blonde. She used to work the desk and I had already had a conversation with Her Highness about the cafe’s closure, at which point she informed me that she was “assistant to the assistant manager.” Apparently this was supposed to induce a kind of awe and wonder in me and when it failed so to impress, her winning personality emerged in full force.
So when, in my post-DMV mood (which was not fabulous, I admit), I launched into my “I’ve been overpaying for for this overpriced gym which is the only option in town for anyone who is accustomed to a nice gym in any city in the country, not to mention the 10 years I paid full price when I only came at 8PM” spiel, she wasn’t thrilled.
Now, you have to understand: people in Santa Barbara think SB is heaven. If you dare to disagree, you’re regarded as some kind of heretic and treated as a pariah. My boyfriend’s mother, a doctor from Brooklyn and a Barnard girl, dared to say something at a dinner with some people from the temple (where they did not feel at home at all) and it was nothing like what I would have said if people were being rude to me and then asked, “So, how do you like it here?” She was mild as can be and when she said, essentially, that they hadn’t found their niche (25 or so years in Houston prior to the move), the house guests from the temple were just terrible and rude to her. There is only one Reform temple in SB so they aren’t members of a temple, for the first time in their lives.
I proceeded to list every major gym I’ve worked out in on the East and West Coasts for the last 20 years and explain that the only reason this club can get away with charging as much as SCLA and Equinox is because it’s a podunk town which masquerades as a city…. You get the point. (J would call this “Victoria making friends again….” I can’t help it: this is the Dad side of me, which oddly horrifies my mother when it comes through me, but bothers her very little when it is in fact The Ordin behaving this way.)
So she got her hackles up and issued a veiled threat: “Well , if this is how you feel, maybe we should reconsider you [sic] being a member still.” That was it. I was pissed. She said she wouldn’t be spoken to in this manner and I said that was a good thing because I had no more use for the conversation either, a sort of My Cousin Vinny tribute (“I got no more use for this witness”) and asked to speak to her supervisor. Unbeknownst to me, the once desk girl and later “assistant to the assistant” was now in membership.
Julie Barker comes out, a lovely woman I knew in the days she was in bookkeeping and she politely explained that corporate had installed some kind of Stalinesque surveillance hooked up to the computers and if the desk person had allowed me with my non-primetime membership to work out, she could have been fired. All that blonde–who lost a lot of weight and has a good body now but a sort of sunken face with as much makeup as Snooki–had to say was that the policies had changed radically and she was sorry, but that I would have to use a guest pass to work out. Done. Problem solved. (Before her weight loss she was kinda, well, the word my father would have used for her volleyball thighs would have been horsey.)
Instead, the blonde super-thin Snooki of Santa Barbara with a rock on her hand had to take me on. This, by the way, is a bad idea on just so many levels. First, I write every fucking thing that happens to me on Facebook, however mundane or trivial. I have repeatedly gotten the kindest words from my FB friends and readers, saying some version of the following: “You write about shit I don’t care about at all and some of it is so mundane I cannot even believe you’re writing about it and yet you make it so entertaining and interesting.”
And even if not on my wall, I write marathon comments on the walls of others and if you piss me off in a service capacity I will destroy and/or humiliate you with a torrent of words you can only begin to imagine and dread. My Facebook husband has written about my horrible long screeds along with my verbal velocity and won’t even argue about a serious issue in writing as he simply has not a chance to keep up with me.
Now, blasting an asshole at the car wash or a bitch at the club happens very little as I am super low-key about service in restaurants, very tolerant of the vast majority of service people. I don’t get upset when cars cut me off. I’m very easygoing. My rule is this: I can tolerate stupidity and incompetence, as long as the stupid person is fully aware of his/her stupidity and makes no pretense of having a brain. Stupid and nice is cool. Stupid and arrogant or rude: sorry, this doesn’t fly with me.
I ended up using one of my two guest passes (a policy of which I was unaware) and attacked the water for 20 minutes. I hadn’t swum that hard in a long time but I was so pissed off that when I called Mom an hour or two later, she said, “Wow, I haven’t heard this kind of anger in years! ” (That was when it was directed at her.) We had a good laugh about the whole thing.
Alas, I am meeting J at Fresco at 6:30 and must go. But I wanted to note a few pieces worth looking at in Sunday’s “Review.
1. ”Down with Everything,” by Thomas Friedman. I hang with Republicans on FB in the main but more liberals in real life. To conservatives, Friedman is the anti-Christ, along with Paul Krugman. How many of them are qualified to render judgment in matters economic is an open question with me but that’s why I remain so intimate with hardcore Republicans. We do not get into it. I haven’t read Friedman since his book, From Beirut to Jerusalem. A brilliant man I know says that was the last good thing to come out of the man, who it turns out, is uber-rich. Not like 500K a year sort of rich. He married some sort of heiress and has a shitload of money. I don’t think he really presents himself as a .05%-er but I could be wrong.
It’s about Francis Fukuyama and the burdensomeness of our checks and balances, in particular the Senate confirmation process and filibuster. I’m not endorsing it, but it’s well-written.
2. “Teach the Books, Touch the Heart,” by a veteran public middle school teacher in Manhattan. It’s beautiful and its main point is that “what is lost in our zeal for testing is learning to love literature.” These are the stories which you will never hear in the bashing of teacher’s unions. I know teacher’s unions are often very destructive. But teachers are saints. They do the most important work imaginable and we can’t give up on teachers just because some of the unions are full of belligerent and incompetent people more invested in union power and self-aggrandizement than the education of our youth.
3. ”Is Therapy Forever? Enough Already,” by Jonathan Alpert, author of “Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days.” I haven’t read this piece yet but I’m thinking it would be fun and fabulous to review. Analysis and therapy are topics which obviously interest me deeply and I think I know a lot about both of them, both from the study of theory and the experience of praxis across modalities.
Okay, I have to run. Happy Thursday!