Natalie Ogbourne


When we drove away from Yellowstone earlier this month, we went only as far as we could get in an hour and stopped for a couple of days at a resort famous for its thermally fed, all-season, outdoor pool. We expected to relax with our bodies submerged in the therapeutic ninety-eight degree water as our faces braved the mix of cold air and steam which hovered over the pool and permeated the courtyard. We had not planned on the arrival of the eight ladies on a girls’ weekend. They took over the pool’s northwest corner and the fifty of us who remained drifted to the opposite end.

Even from a distance the group was loud and coarse and on the receiving end of muttered derisive comments from some of the people congregated in the packed half of the pool. The atmosphere was tense. People seemed to feel able to do nothing other than tolerate it or leave. While it was warmer than the previous evening’s thirty-five below zero air, people were not inclined to go.

When the least sober member of the group mooned her companions as she exited the pool, I knew that I had to grow up and talk to her or be willing to leave. Just days earlier I had wondered if I had ever been compelled to do anything and here I was, compelled to act. I hopped out of the pool and into the ten-degree air, padded across the heated tile and into the locker room where I told her privately, quietly, and matter-of-factly that I had a teenage son with me who really didn’t need to see her backside.

I learned a few things during the next few minutes:

  1. Although I see myself as someone who handles neither conflict or confrontation well, it seems that when it was required of me, it was possible for me to deal with it. Well.
  2. Even though I spent the short journey between the pool and locker room contemplating the likelihood that I might get punched out, if that had happened I would have survived. My family (or maybe someone from the pool full of people I was blissfully unaware had watched me head to the locker room) would have come checked on me. Whatever happened, it would have been all right.
  3. One quietly spoken sentence was all it took to change the atmosphere of the whole pool area. The stream of f-bombs dried up, the group subdued itself, and everyone else relaxed and redistributed themselves throughout the pool.
  4. While it’s not always easy, it is right for me as a mom to defend my children’s one short childhood from the thoughtless and uninformed.


What has life been teaching you?

Linking with Emily at Chatting at the Sky.