She created quite stir as in her drunken state she slipped off her bottoms and slid into the public pool. To make matters MUCH worse, a handful of younger boys happened to be at that end of the pool to witness the entirely unexpected exposure. The boys, of which my son was one, were rapidly corralled to the other end of the pool while this woman was verbally berated by hostile onlookers.
I enter the scene as I was dusting the sand off my feet, completely oblivious to the stir that happened moments before. My son informs me that there is a lady in the other end of the pool with her bottoms off! “Maybe you shouldn’t go there right now, even though that’s where all of my stuff is,” says he. Another mother walked toward me, steam escaping her ears, reporting that she has in no uncertain terms dealt with this lady and has called security.
I am repelled by drunken conflicts with an anaphylactic reaction – but I reason that my boys stuff is down there, so I walk with the other mother and urge her not to say anything – we can just go get our boys things and then leave. This sounds like a sane and safe plan to me. The other mother who I don’t really know tells the bottomless woman in the pool that she needs to, “get it together.” I am not certain what “getting it together” actually is in this circumstance, but an instruction like, “Ma’am, you seem to have lost your bottoms, may I help you find them?” may have been more helpful, direct and less shaming.
My throat is literally closing over with anxiety. I notice that when the distraught mother beside me shamed and condemned the exposed woman – it gave her partner license to do so also. He became verbally abrasive with her, clearly irate and increasingly angry. None of this was getting this womans bottoms back on.
Virtually unable to breathe, I stepped into the water and said some gentle version of the “May I help You?” statement. As it happens, the woman and the bottoms had been reconnected and all regions seemed to be appropriately covered. I missed how that happened, and that was likely for the best.
I walked back with my sons clothing items and slid into the pool, thinking I had dodged a sketchy social bullet. An acquaintance of my son exclaimed to me, “That woman down there is sick in the head!” I corrected him, my husband distracted the boys with a game, and I started the doggie paddle towards her end of the pool. Now I need glasses to see distance, but you could see the mans angry countenance from a mile away; the woman was crying and clutching the edge of the pool. Shoot… the sketchy social bullet just pierced my heart.
I swam up to her and asked her name and where she was from. Becky from Baltimore. Well Becky of Baltimore, I’m Lori Anne of Canada; “You ok honey?” We chatted and I asked her about her fella, “Is he mean to you at all?” She said, “No, not really, but my former fiance sure had been,” more tears flowed – the pool level rose on account of it. She said he was real angry with her right now, as there was kids in the pool. He said, “Maybe his friends had been right about her.” More tears… “I’m just not that sort of girl, you know?”
“I know honey, of course you’re not.” (Little does she know there is no ‘sort of girl’ that takes her clothes off, no particular ‘sort’ at all…) She goes on to explain that they had been out on a cruise and had too much to drink and she took her bottoms off because she thought she had shorts on. She had been too drunk to realize she had actually taken off her bathing suit bottoms.
“Oh girl, it was just a mistake. A right honest mistake. You are not the first girl to do something foolish while drunk, and you most definitely won’t be the last,” I say. (Many a girl has been drunk on words, drunk on false hope, drunk on padded promises and dropped her dignity along with her garments.) I move in close and put my arm around her. I stroke her hair; she seems so little. She looks at me as she wipes her eyes and says, “You’re so pretty.” “Love is beautiful girl,” I think but I do not say…
“May I get you a towel and help you get out of the pool? Would that be alright?” I ask. She nods and indicates she’d like that. I clamour out, getting her a towel, on my way, I say to the man, “She’s not the first girl to do something like that, and she won’t be the last. ” I look him square in the eye and then I pat his shoulder – he visibly softens.
The fire of his shame loses some of its strength.
When I get back to her, I help her up the ledge where she sits for a minute, looking so young and fragile. She says to her fella, “I didn’t do it on purpose.” Her face just so crushingly vulnerable and small. He nods… it was an understanding and accepting nod. I notice he is calmer now. She is easier to be kind to, now that he sees some stranger thinks she is worth being kind too. I wrap the towel around her and guide her to the chair beside her fella. I hug her hard, she hugs hard back. I kiss her cheek, she sits down, they talk real nice like. I walk away, now I’m the one who’s crying.
A man came up to me as I was walking away, and said, “Well that was real nice of you – seems like there was more to the story.” I can only choke out, “There always is more to the story…”
I wonder if I need to expound on the moral lesson here, and I find myself nearly unable to. It is too close for comfort, too painful to try to bring more clarity at this time. I’m still weeping for her, for me, for any women who has been intoxicated on a noxious substance only to render her garments and her dignity; to be reviled, cursed and judged by both strangers and her spouse alike.
No… there is no such thing as “that sort of girl.“