It's the swimming. The separate swimming. Praise the lord for his mercy.
I shuffle into the dressing room, clad in fluorescent crocs and a colorful but not especially flattering bathing suit. Goosebumps rise on my limbs, strands of wet hair cling to my neck. I try to avoid looking in the mirror. I defy any woman to look good in a bathing cap and goggles.
Let's face it, all females have hang ups about some part of their body. If you don't believe me, read the beauty columns in magazines, when beach season is approaching,. "How to get rid of cellulite in 20 days". "The 5 step guide to a smooth stomach". That's before we even start with the tans.
Here no one cares. There are no fake tans, nor waterproof makeup. If you don't own a bathing suit, no problem, underwear under a T-Shirt will do the job. A bikini, a housecoat, it's all good.
As I plow down the swimming lanes I catch fragments of conversations drifting by. Women greet each other, stop mid-lane and chat. It's a Friday morning , so they swap recipes, and tips for getting Challahs to rise. It's like a cozy club. Girls morning out.
In the showers I hear the French women discussing the best places to go for legs, eyebrows, facials. The Americans pull on scarfs and snoods, all the while comparing Sheitel fashions, ponytails vs. falls. They scurry to their cars and rides and cabs. Ducking in before anyone outside can glimpse them in their current raw state.
Mixed hours begin. I stay on a while, to bask in the sun, with a hot chocolate from the machine. Old men, with potbellies bulging over miniscule swimming trunks, clamber into the pool. The secular women arrive. The emancipated, the free. They slip out of tracksuits, join the men in the water. I can’t imagine swimming in mixed hours, running the risk of bumping into men I'd much rather keep my distance from. I'm glad that I'm out now, sitting on the grass, covered up in a sweatshirt and skirt.
It's not one of the standard reasons, but it is another reason I'm happy that I'm Frum. And do you know what the best thing about separate swimming is? Unlike the grocery store and library, and despite being in Shidduchim, I don't need to wear makeup to the pool!
5 hours ago