Met a dancer named Mary Lou at Crystal Hot Springs . She’s the grandma of Ally–17-year old Head Lifeguard ever since she saved a child’s life with CPR last summer. Ally’s family is hosting T-Day for all the relatives. “It was Ally’s idea,” said Mary Lou. “That’s her in the watch tower.”

“I saw her up there,” I said. “She seemed so serious, not like the other kids.”

“Ally’s been like that since her dad died. It was five years ago, a medical condition and they could have saved him. Now she wants to go into medicine. She was the state champion at the CPR training, that’s why when it happened she had just come back from that. It was on KSL!  But the mother was screaming. It really affected her. It was after they closed when she found the kid floating in the pool. The others were all just trying to get out of there and if Ally hadn’t gone back to check… Well she went back to work the next day but they had to send her home. She was all shaky, you know? So they made her the head over the other guards and gave her passes for everyone in her family.”

I hadn’t done more than nod sympathetically and say things like, “wow,” and “oh man” during her tale, but Mary Lou kept leaning in and suddenly we were Besties.

“We’re the Petersons’,” she said, indicating a handful of heads bobbing in steaming hot springs at the deep end of the Olympic Pool. “Isn’t this great!” she insisted, closing in on me.

“Weightlessness is a wonderful feeling,” I could only agree. After a few hours of steaming in foggy freezing brilliant glittering sun and hot water your mind dissolves and it’s all about feeling.

Mary Lou is 5′-2″, eyes of hazel, loves to dance, married to a man who loved to dance until he was partially paralyzed by a stroke a few years ago. “We just roll him in his wheelchair down the ramp into the pool. You can see the water marks on his chair.”

When I turned to face the frosted sheltering curve of the Wasatch Front, Mary Lou turned too, synchronizing her moves with mine, talking about her family, her ward, her life up to right now. I thought at first she must be drunk but her breath had no trace of alcohol and she was certainly alert and coordinated. After a while I removed my wide-brim hat and sunglasses. She stopped talking for a moment but she never stopped her graceful underwater dancing.

The lowering sun setting Mary Lou’s short, tousled, henna-red hair ablaze. A plain-spoken, make-up free-woman of a certain age from Clearfield, in my face, hiding nothing, wanting only to be engaged.

She met her husband at a dance and eventually he would be appointed Dance Master for their LDS Stake? Apparently, that’s a paying job? But that was long ago.

Gov. Warren Bangerter was in their ward. “He was just a regular person like you and me.” She taught him how to Cha-Cha! She went to his inauguration and his funeral, too. Parking was a nightmare. They left early.

Mary Lou would not–or could not–stop talking, dancing all the while in slow-water-motion, swaying, stretching, turning in her sensible blue flowered swimsuit with a modest skirt. Reminding me of no one so much as my wife, another dancer. What is it about dancers that make them so hypnotically attractive if by chance one happens to focus on you?

“That’s my son, Gerald,” she said pointing out a tall, balding man with a grey beard whom I had taken for her husband because of the way he was anxiously watching as Mary Lou surrounded me, my back to wall. I was hogging the jet of hot water debouching at my feet, heat traveling up my ankles, knees, thighs, hips and spine, zinging all the chakras. “Gerald’s even taller than my husband, six-foot eight! He hunches, though, ‘cuz he’s self-conscious. Stand up and show us how tall you are!”

Obediently, Gerald rose to his full height and Mary Lou laughed triumphantly, swimming over to stand up under his out-stretched arms. “See, I don’t even come up to his shoulders!”

“Mom?” Gerald tried to get her attention. “Mom? I’m going to go look for the others.”

Then it was just Mary Lou and me and the mist…

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