china chronicles: swimming episode
swimming in a pool with a bunch of chinese. never thought of such a concept. i was almost grossed out by the thought of it. afterall, they don’t call it the yellow river for nothing. just kidding. so me and Zhang, my step-mom’s sister-in-law took me to an indoor swimming pool. she showed them her card and they punched a hole and gave her a key. she showed me the signs, “this is the exit, this is the entrance.” i was about to walk in until she took me to the other side where we repeated steps 1-3. lucky for me we did because i was informed that this side was for boys and the other was for girls. so Zhang gives me a towel, a swimming cap, some goggles, some soap and some flip-flops and sends me off all by myself.
i go in and see a whole bunch of little kids running around. so i’m trying to find my locker in this crammed room with screaming little boys — uh, now there are screaming little naked boys. i still don’t understand that whole slapping of the butt thing. especially screaming little naked boys’ butts. i still can’t find my locker so i walk around some more. shower room. didn’t need to see that. finally find my locker and change.
walk out to the olympic sized pool. i start walking around wondering if i would be swimming by myself too. guy stops me and asks me if i’m going to swim and i say yes. ”then where’s your swimming cap,” he says. ”i don’t use one,” i say. he retorts, “you have to, it’s a rule.” great, jared in a swimming cap. too bad i didn’t see myself in the mirror. sorry, no pictures. i find Zhang and we jump in and start swimming. kinda cold. swim swim swim. in march about a thousand little kids. i was later told that in the fifth grade, everybody has to take swim lessons. there are adults and littler kids too. one chubby little girl in a tube decided to come over and say something that i didn’t understand and splash some water in my face. ”alright,” i said.
we decide to take a break and sit down a bit. we talked for a while. she asked me if what i was wearing was made for swimming. i looked at her kinda funny and said yes. she said she had never seen swimming suits like mine before. ”really?” i said. i look around and notice that all the males, old and young, skinny and not so skinny alike, are all wearing speedos. man, i was glad i brought my own.