12 November 2005

Tan Lines

I finally made it to the pool next door. It is part of the pretty much defunct amusement park. There is the Ferris wheel, which I have seen turned on once; the race car circuit, which occasionally has drivers; and two of those death-defying rides that take you way up on a track, then let you free fall back down. I have yet to see those in operation.

Apparently, when it was first opened, maybe ten years ago, it was packed on weekends. Now, about the only thing in use is the pool on weekends. And it is an odd pool. The whole thing is only about a meter and a half deep. The water doesn’t even reach my shoulders.

But I wasn’t there to swim. I was there to get a tan. I figured about an hour in the morning sun would do for a start. I arrived at 10:00. There were already a fair number of families sitting around or splashing in the water. I found an empty deck chair, one of 6 in the whole place, and stripped down to my swimming costume.

Leaning back, I surveyed the scene. I was the only white person there. The rest were Korean and Japanese, with the requisite Vietnamese nannies in tow. And I was the only female in a bikini. A few of the little girls had on one piece suits. A few moms had suits that covered more than even the most modest American bathing suits. The teenage girls swan in t-shirts, bras, underwear and track pants.

The stares started immediately. Kids hung on the lip of the pool and glared at me. One came over, bent down, and tried to peer under my book to get a look at my face. Then there was this woman who kept swimming up to the edge of the pool, standing there, and just staring at me. After the third time, I thought that maybe she was someone I knew and I didn’t recognize her. But I don’t know anyone here, so it couldn’t have been that.

I walked into the water a few times to cool off, but did no swimming. After 45 minutes, I was hot enough, and probably tan enough for the first day out in the sun in months. An odd scene, it was, but the sun felt great.

I’ll go earlier next time and possibly avoid being the local freak show.