Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pleasure and Danger

For our anniversary John and I spent two days at Aerie House in Provincetown.  Near the small greenhouse where Steve, one of the owners, raises orchids, a hot tub faced the ocean.  The air temperature was thirty-five degrees; the sun did not have much heat; dressed in shorts and a skimpy top I would have to descend two flights of outdoor stairs in the freezing air to reach the tub.  Never mind, I had to get into the hot water: my joints ached.  I raised the lid and turned on the jets.  The water churned and steamed.  In seconds I was in.  I leaned back and let my legs float.  As soon as the first shock of pleasure diminished, I noticed the warning signs nailed to the wall.  The pregnant and elderly were in danger.  I was older, certainly not pregnant.  We were cautioned not to go into the tub if we had taken drugs or alcohol, not to use the hot tub alone.  I was alone.  Ten minutes in the tub was the limit.  If the soakers wanted more, they were advised to get out, take a shower, and then go back in.  There was a large clock--not a chance of missing the time.  There were emergency phone numbers, directions to the location of a first-aid kit.  The water steamed; the heat sunk in; my muscles un-kinked.  I lay back again.  An aging person in danger.  More than ten minutes had passed.  To the east the jetty made a pretty broken line; the lighthouse seemed bravely small, the horizon tender.  I gave myself more time.  I sat up straight so my neck and shoulders were in the cold air.  Not for long.  Back down I went into the delicious heat.   The wine bottle I would open for dinner had a warning label; the cigarettes I used to smoke did as well, the food I eat measured for fat.  So many warnings.  No doubt, you can think of more.  These warnings do not spoil pleasure or frighten me.  I regard them calmly.  How does that happen?  Some say the young think they are immortal.  What about those of us who are no longer young?  The avid desire to live pleasurably is stronger than so many warnings, isn't it?