OPINION: On Queen, Lady Gaga, and pacifiers

Mar. 16—"You're imagining things."

I hear that almost every day. I probably say it every day. It's a kinder way of saying, "You're lying," or "Those mushrooms you got into this morning are finally taking effect."

With the misinformation, disinformation, and computer-generated images we're subjected to, it's clear that someone is always "imagining things." Career politicians don't have much of an imagination, but they do lie their fool heads off, and their fans — who apparently rhapsodize over the possibility of having their crotches grabbed by the object of their affection — believe whatever spews from their maws. There are still people who believe Pizzagate was a thing, and that the Earth is flat.

"Alternative facts" are often chalked up to a good imagination — or a bad one, depending on your perspective. And sometimes, naivete is to blame for inaccuracy. There are still folks who think chocolate milk comes from brown cows.

You may have noticed I often write about topics that could fall under the umbrella of, "A funny thing happened on the way to The Fit." To get that paraphrased pun, you'd have to be a stage or film buff, or at least know a lot about Roman history. But it's not quite accurate; the funny things happen at The Fit, not on the way to it. And nine times out of 10, they happen in the natatorium. But whatever happens, usually happens because some young, wet-behind-the-ears student hasn't been around since the cooling of the aforementioned Earth. I've educated quite a few whippersnappers on pop culture history, and they always look at me in amazement, before they comment, "Wow, you must be old!"

The pool had been closed for three weeks, due to some nebulous repairs. It was back in action the first of last week, and I arrived Monday to notice that they had scrubbed the bottom of the pool to remove the grit dragged in by months and months of dirty swimmers. A fresh sign demanding that we shower before getting into the water may or may not be ignored, although showering won't really help, because the people who leave behind the filth would need to be dipped in a vat of lye to avoid muddying the waters. But all that mattered to me was that it was open and the water was at least 78 degrees.

As I waited for the 7 a.m. opening, I was working on my laptop, and a couple of kids began conversing about a tune being piped through the sound system — I think it was "We Are the Champions." One kid asserted that Queen — the rock group, not a head of state — had foretold the rise of Lady Gaga. That caught my attention. He told his friend, "You know, they have that song" — and he began to sing in an off-tune sort of way: "Radio Googoo, Laaaady Gaga."

I couldn't help myself. I asked, in the kindest tone I could muster, "Where did you get that information?" He looked at me suspiciously, wondering why an elderly woman wearing blingy boots was speaking to him, and asked, "Isn't that what it says?" I shook my head, and he admitted he had just heard this song for the first time the other day.

"I've read all about Brian May, and I figured, him being an astrologer, he just, you know, predicted it," he said.

If you didn't understand what I meant when I referred to people who believe the Earth is flat because "I seen it on Facebook," now you do.

I told him Lady Gaga wasn't born until a couple of years after that particular Queen song came out, and in fact, that she said she took her name from that song. (The megastar's real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, and clearly, she's Italian, but that's not important now.)

I then said, "And Brian May is an astrophysicist, not an astrologer — there's a difference — and in any case, Roger Taylor wrote the song."

"Who's Roger Taylor?" the kid asked, and I said, "The drummer." He further inquired, "For Lady Gaga?" and I said, "No, for Queen." Apparently he only knew about Brian May and Freddie Mercury, and further discussion revealed he did not realize Freddie's birth name was Farrokh Bulsara, which the kid surmised was Tibetan. He had no clue about Zanzibar.

"How do you know this stuff?" he finally asked. I said, as I normally do, since it's the best possible explanation for accrued knowledge: "Because I'm old." I could've sworn I saw him cast a judgmental look toward my boots before he said, "Well, you don't seem like it." He did not mean I didn't look old, only that I didn't dress like it.

That's not the weirdest part. When I got into the natatorium and parked myself in a lane, I noticed a pacifier lying on the deck. Had I seen it before the conversation, I might've wondered whether The Fit Director Jon Bloodworth had placed the "Binky" there by way of predicting the conversation ("All we see is, baby Binkies, baby gaga. ..."). For self-preservation purposes, I checked the pool for floaters and am happy to report there were none.

Friday morning, the strangeness continued. There was a very large "float" — not the same as a floater — designed like a giant rubber ducky, propped up against the wall on the pool deck. I noticed a speaker emblem on the side, and wondered whether the object made a noise. I planned to check later, but then had my laps cut short by yet another work-related issue. Later, Rita Courtwright informed me the thing quacked. I don't know whether she'd seen something like it before, or curiosity got the better of her and she showed up to check.

I keep telling myself, "Hang in there, baby."