Bit of Fiction: Defamiliarization [1200 words]

2015 9-14 BoF2

Beauty in the Mundane

Unattended toddlers were left to their own devices frolicking about on the zero entry side, screaming and running to the constant roar of the lifeguard whistle. Their mothers took refuge at a safe distance from their rambunctious mayhem and the toddlers’ safety was under the sole mercy of a teen lifeguard preoccupied with the female lifeguard in the two piece from across the way.

The group of ladies arranged their chairs in a semi circular motif which would lead one to believe that they were huddled around a campfire nursing s’mores on sticks, but they were not. They were all rather impeccably well-groomed, ages ranging from late 30s to early 40s. The quintessential suburban moms had their mandated uniforms and norms, which consisted of Lexus SUV’s, oversized Michael Kors or Coach Bags, and black Lululemon black leggings.The PTO extraordinaires, the Heisman trophy winners of bake sales had an air of superiority to them, especially when it came to crossing paths with mothers who chose to work outside of the home. It was just like the cliques in high school when all the cool girls united in their collective coolness deliberately alienating those deemed not worthy to be in the company of their embodied coolness. ‘I wasn’t cool back then either,’ Marisol thought to herself with mild amusement. She regrettably was particularly well dressed due to a meeting with potential clients. And it was with even more regret that she had to clickity clack right passed the gaggle of gossiping ladies in her Nine West faux leather pumps in order to reach the other side where the lap lanes were. Marisol could not help but internally cringe with every step as her heels like a full arsenal of Clydesdale galloping down the side, the sounds embarrassingly prolonged by echoing off the surrounding tiles. She was painfully aware of how overdressed she was and the cool girls were all too inclined to confirm her assumption with the head-to-toe once over inspection, which women are keen in doling out to disavow other women.

She sat a few paces beyond the group, just close enough to where the 8 year old were taking their weekly lessons to observe without getting wet. This week they were reviewing breathing techniques in the freestyle before progressing on to mastering the complicated butterfly. The instructor was wiggling her hand in the air to simulate the body movement in a butterfly when Marisol’s attention was abducted.

“Did you hear about Emma?” one of the mothers said out of the blue.

“Yeees, O-M-G how terrible! I feel just awful for the family. We should do something for them,” one of the mothers responded.

“I know! I can’t believe it” another chimed in.

“Yes that’s an excellent idea. Let’s create a drive for the family and ask for donations” another replied.

“Maybe we can start a fund called the Emma Fund where people can donate cash if they don’t have the time to shop?” yet another mother interjected.

Then without prompting all of the ladies said in unison enthusiastically,  “bake sale!” followed by an overzealous laughter, which bordered on cackling. The conversation quickly turned to depict every minutia detail of the status of little Bobby’s potty training. Dreadfully, exceedingly, vivid details of the frequency, consistency, and size of his stools were all contemptuously shared as if this particular toddler’s feces could cure cancer. Marisol was one of the two captive audience members, the other was a father looking increasingly uncomfortable by the conversation on hand.

When the conversation seemed to have lulled, a particularly heavy set woman asked the lanky one how long she had planned to breastfeed and before the poor woman could respond, a hell’s gate worth of declarations boomed uncontrollably from the other mothers.

“One year,” one said proudly.

“Eighteen months,” boasted the other.

“Almost two years, but then I had to stop because my nipples just couldn’t take the teething” another bragged followed by a sleuth of uh-huhs and head nods.

Yet another triumphantly declared, “I’m still breastfeeding mine and he will be turning 3 next month!”

An exuberant amount of accolades erupted, “great job,” “wow,” with the occasional “you’re such an awesome mom.” Marisol stifled a laugh and couldn’t help but to roll her eyes at the women’s correlation that the length of breastfeeding is some sort of definitive measure of how awesome a mother was. The incessant revelations filled Marisol with such disenchantment. Is this really the conversations of her fellow women? The never-ending and idle chatter about poop, nipples, and comparing the length of breastfeeding as if they were competing for a mother of the millennium badge of courage?

Marisol let out a small sigh. There were very few moments when the decision of returning to work after the birth of her twin sons haunted Marisol but there was always a lingering doubt within her, like that nagging feeling that the stove was left on rushing out of the house. Then when she was treated to conversations of this caliber, any residual doubts quickly abandoned her with haste. She allowed herself a minute to let the noise of the clucking hens fade from her mind. She inhaled deeply and tried to breath in the moment, to capture the mundane so as to not to take it for granted. The overbearing aroma of the chlorine, the intolerable humid stale recycled air of the enclosure, the thunderous splashing as the instructor unleashes the new batch of fish in their assigned lap lanes. All quite ordinary and yet special when a mother doesn’t spend every waking minute of every day with their children.

Marisol redirected her attention to her eldest by 37 seconds. She observed his effortless movement through the water. She marveled at his graceful glide gently parting the water from his path. Every stroke had a balletic fluidity, even the manner in which his hands cupped the water escalating his momentum forward was filled with elegance. He tilted his upper torso every other stroke to restock his lungs with oxygen and his legs fiercely propelled him without breaking the water’s surface. The water his arms thrust behind him looked like diamonds being carelessly tossed in the air.

Then Marisol casually scanned over to two lanes over to observe the youngest. His speed easily outpaced his brother but without any of the charisma, or the fluidity, or the grace. His limbs thrashed about wildly conjuring small tidal waves in his wake, dousing the neighboring lanes. He pummeled and trounced his way through the water; and on several occasions over the summer, Marisol had to thwart lifeguards’ rescue attempts by calling out, “NO he is not drowning! YES, I am sure he is not drowning. Yes, he does know how to swim. Yes, he did pass the deep end test. And no, it’s just not very pretty.” There’s a certain unorthodox spastic quality to his technique. Reminiscent of the bumblebee. Just as the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, he shouldn’t be able to move through the water at such a ferocious pace. But just like the non aerodynamic bumblebee, he defies all reasons and science and charges ahead of everyone in the class, every time.

Rong Rong Name Stamp

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