This was photographed by her then husband, Terry O’Neill the morning after she won an Oscar for Network.
I got into a fight with a pregnant lady today. I’m not proud of it. I’ll tell you what happened as objectively as I can. As I’ve written about before here, I like to start my day with a swim at the pool where I have a membership. In the winter, it’s not too crowded, but in the summer it’s very hectic, almost the entire day, with people trying to swim in one of the five lap lanes. Today, when I got to the pool, I saw that lane #4 was open, but the others were occupied. I also saw there was one name on the waiting list, but I assumed that person was gone or had already gotten a lane and was no longer waiting for an available lane. I even looked around to see if anyone looked like they were coming toward the pool. I wrote my name on the board that includes the waiting list as well as who is in what lane. I wrote my initials in the box for #4 and started to disrobe. As I was shedding my clothes (I was wearing my suit underneath my clothes), a 30-something pregnant woman walked over to the lap pool from the other pool, a family pool where she’d been swimming. She saw that my name was on the board at #4 and then began to get into my lane. I said, “That’s actually my lane.” She said, in an English accent, “No, it’s my lane, I was on the waitlist.” I explained that when I came to the pool, the lane was empty, so it was my lane. She told me that one of the workers was supposed to be watching to tell her when a lane opened. I told her that he did not do that, that the lane had been empty for awhile. She went to complain to the guy and I got in the pool and started my swim. After my first lap, “Victor” came over to tell me that it was her lane. I said that the lane was empty when I got there. I also said that she could share the lane if she wanted. The lanes are a bit too narrow to share comfortably, but the rules of the pool are if someone wants to share with you, you have to let them. When I told her we could share, she said, “I’m NOT going to share a lane.” I said, “Actually, it says right there on the board that you have to share the lane.” She said to me, “You’re going to kick my BABY!” I said, “I won’t kick your baby, I know how to share a lane. You’re welcome to share the lane, if you want.” And then I resumed swimming. A few minutes later, there was another available lane, but I noticed that she didn’t take it. Apparently, she left the pool not long after our scene. The entire time I was swimming, I vacillated between righteous indignation and exploring the possibility that I had behaved poorly. Actually, I can tell you right now, I did behave poorly. I should have just taken the high road at the beginning and said, “Fine, take the lane, I’ll take the next one.” I didn’t do that, though. By the time I was done with my swim, I was ashamed of myself. I played out how I might apologize the next time I saw her. Maybe we would become pool friends. I do love England.
Then something happened. As is my ritual, I shower after I swim. I bring my pants and towel into the changing room with me while my shirt hangs on the chaise lounge. When I came out of the changing room, I started to put my shirt on and I realized my shirt had been covered by a wet towel for at least 30 minutes. It was soaked. Someone had put that towel there on purpose. I said something to Victor who acted like he didn’t know what happened. I said something to the pool manager who feigned shock and outrage. The pregnant lady was long gone by this point. I really don’t know who soaked my shirt, but I thought about it the entire 90 minutes I was walking around wet at work. Some might say that it was my comeuppance, but I actually thought it was sort of funny. I also enjoyed telling the story to my co-workers, who graciously agreed with me that she was most in the wrong. I’m sure that she spent the day telling her friends about the effeminate fat American guy who stole her lane at the pool, too. In fact, there is a possibility that you reading this have heard the account from both sides at this point. And if you have heard her version and my version, be honest, who was in the wrong? If you think it was me, don’t tell me.