miðvikudagur, apríl 25, 2007

morning swim

For a whole pack of reasons relating to my new joerb, my swimming routine has moved from after work to before work. And it's a whole new world out there. On my first 6:30 a.m. trip out to the pool at Laugardalur, just past the predawn "roll 'em out boys" unveiling of the yellow Strætó buses from their big, sad bus yard, I pulled into the parking lot to find a whole new crowd of old men, too. They were lined up that first morning in a big pack, mobbing the glass doors of the pool. I was there a shade before 6:30, too, so I joined in the crowd just as the pool lady finished her prep work and walked over to unlock the door. The mob shuffled past her with determination, making a bumble-beeline for the locker room. Nobody showed an Árskort. These men belonged there. The locker room was a mad rush of old dudes claiming their favorite lockers and getting changed amidst old-dude conversations. By the time I got out to the lap lanes they were already well stocked with slow-moving elderly swimmers.

It's the same at one of my neighborhood pools, Vesturbær. When I first got there, there were maybe 20 men crammed up at the doors, getting rained on. It was like Macy's on the morning after Thanksgiving, or Filene's Basement on bridal sale day. And V-bær is even worse in the lap lane department. There are so many men swimming in each lane that it can look from above like a conveyor belt. I am thinking about adding my other neighborhood pool, Seltjarnarnes, into the early mix, forming a sort of Holy Trinity of morning swimming. I'll let you know if that has a similar gate-storming crowd. I'm hoping it has less old sailors in the lanes.

And this morning I witnessed my first argument in the pottasamfélagi. I was sitting there minding my own business, soaking in the hot water, when an old, weary-looking mustachioed man entered and immediately struck up a heated exchange with a younger, darker man. I didn't catch the beginning, but the rough exchange following the kickoff was something like, "I know what I said, and I didn't say that!" "You're lying. You're a lying man." "I know what I said." "You're always lying." "I never lie!" It was Hot Tub Smackdown 2K7!

When I came back from the steam room, the mustachioed man had been forced out and two of the remaining men were discussing his character. This kind of exchange was something I have never witnessed at the pool, or really anywhere else here. (Or maybe I just wasn't savvy enough to pick up on it before.) I guess all the old men in Iceland can't be friends.


Blogger cK said...

Some grudges just linger.

I went back and Count of Monte Cristo not long ago. The whole thing. All 1300 pages. There was a passage in their about old men being expert at bitterness.

You've should have said to them, "Can you believe the crowd here in the morning?"

Blogger Djaddi said...

Was the other man an immigrant?

Yeah, V-bær can get a bit busy. They should dig near the pool and add a few lanes :)

Blogger JB said...

CK: Yeah it was bad enough that I got up and left the tub. But some rubbernecking tendency kept me lingering at the top of the stairs to catch a few more bits.

Djaddi: Well, we're all immigrants in Iceland. 874 pride, baby. Seriously, I believe both men were native-born 'Landers.

I often wonder when V-bær will get an extreme makeover. Those swimming lanes are about as narrow as a coach-class seat.

Anonymous Nafnlaus said...


Það virðist standa til að lappa upp á laugina a.m.k. ef eitthvað er að marka þessa frétt af mbl frá því í nóvember á síðasta ári:

"Innisundlaug verður gerð við Vesturbæjarlaugina innan tíðar og verður byrjað á verkinu strax á næsta ári [2007]. Er þetta fyrsta meiriháttar framkvæmd við sundlaug í Reykjavík frá því stóra innilaugin í Laugardal var tekin í notkun."


Blogger JB said...

Sindri: Wow, I didn't know that. New indoor pool in the 'Hood, yo. It doesn't appear to me that any work has begun yet, although up the hill in Seltjarnarnes they've lopped off the entire entrance to that pool and dug a giant hole: 170's answer to Boston's Big Dig, I guess. I wonder if they'll be putting in a baseball park to complete the íþróttamiðstöð. Wouldn't that be something? It's nice to live in a place where things are always being fixed and improved.

Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

Welcome back. I've missed reading your blog!


Blogger Maja said...

Wow! A fight at the pool between old men. That's pretty funny!

Blogger JB said...

Ooof, this morning I ran seriously afoul of some local Seltjarnarnesslaug swimming traditions. The "rules of the road" in Icelandic swimming pools are "always swim on the right". This way 3 or 7 or 20 people can share one lane and never collide. But it seems in slow Selty that this hasn't caught on with the early-morning old-timer crowd. I went crawling down the right half of Lane 2 this morning, focusing on breathing and suddenly ran smack into Old Lady 3. The rules there seem to be to split each lane into two, with each person staying on their side. This is bollocks because then only two people can use each lane. But it seems to be the Local Way and who am I to come in with my newfangled Reykjavík city ways and tell them how to swim?

Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

I sincerely congratulate you on your use of the word 'bollocks'.


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