The Pool Politician

22 Jan

It was a quiet evening swim.

Nearly every lane was in use but my fellow swimmers were silent (sometimes there are thrashers and splashers and breathers).

Often there is music playing over the loudspeaker, but not loud enough that you can hear it once you pull your swim cap on. Today, there wasn’t even music.

The only sound was my thoughts and my inward cheering every time I completed another lap.

And then…cutting through the silence…came a loud and cheery “Hi Everybody!”

Except it sounded like “Hi eddyduddy!”

But first, let me back up.  He entered the pool area, all 3 feet tall, maybe 4 years old, with his entourage…Mom…aka, Campaign Manager. They may have left the women’s changing room in parallel stride but his eagerness to get to the pool had put him a solid 10 feet ahead of her by the end of the hallway. She trailed behind carrying the swim supplies.

While everyone was in the same swim costume, he exuded an air of someone wearing a suit.  His bright green swim trunks and rash guard seemed somehow more stately than those of his fellow swim tots.

So he said “Hi eddyduddy!” and was met with nothing…no returned greetings, no waves.

Not daunted in the least, he tried again “HI EDDYDUDDY!” Even louder and clearer than the last time. It was impressive. And then, having made a grand entrance and welcomed us…to the pool…we were already in…he moved onto the schmoozing aspect.

A lesser politician may have chosen to focus on the demographic he identified with – the shallow pool full of similar tots with similar swim suits and of similar height. Not this cheeky little fellow. Nope, he made his way around the very deep pool talking to those of us in Speedos with goggles and swim caps and fins and lap counters.

Next thing I knew, there was a little neon green body, hands on knees, peering down into the water at me. “Hi person!” he said as I did my freestyle breathing (in, out, in, out) across the pool. I’m pretty sure he would have shaken my hand if I had stopped mid-stroke.

I left the pool a little later chuckling at his gregarious nature. He reminded me so much of a local old-school politician, shaking hands and kissing babies.

Forty minutes later, I was stretching after my run at the back of the gym. And there he was – damp pool hair and a warm winter jacket – waiting for his mother while she spoke to the front desk clerk. Or maybe that’s what he wanted us to think. Maybe she was waiting for him. Because he weaved his way among the cardio equipment, not disturbing anyone or touching anything but making his little presence known (it was quite a little confident stride he had).

“Good job going up and down!” to the woman on the elliptical.

“You look pretty tired” to the man on the treadmill.

“I did that at the lake once” to the boy on the rowing machine.

“I like your shoes” to the girl spinning on the bike.

And then, when he stopped before me, “Hi! I saw you earlier. You were in MY pool!”  It was not said in an annoyed or possessive manner, but clearly stated as fact. He knew who I was. I was in his pool. He had approved this. He managed to be assertive without being cocky.

And then, back to his campaign manager. A quick wave and nod to us all as he left as if to say “Continue on, poor gym people, while I sell myself to another adoring crowd.”

I bought it, hook, line and sinker.

I can’t tell you what “it” was. I am not sure what he was selling.  Only that he was really really really good at selling. So good in fact that I didn’t need to know what I was buying. Just that I was buying from him.

I am becoming that person who votes based on charm, good looks, likability and self-confidence. Good thing I am only voting for MIT Pool President. But look out “eddyduddy” because I’m pretty sure that he’s on the fast track towards bigger things.


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