For Labor Day Weekend: A short-short story just for fun…
A lone leaf drifted lazily into the small kidney-shaped swimming pool in the backyard of my dear friend Muffy. An orange leaf. The three of use, Muffy, Buffy, and myself peered up with trepidation at the large elm tree that shades the deep end of the pool.
“Is that what I think it is?” asked Muffy, with a pained sigh.
Buffy lowered her huge, protective sunglasses and tilted up her enormous hemp sun hat to further assess the situation. She sighed as well. “Yes, I’m afraid summer is almost over. Before you know it the Neiman Marcus holiday catalog will be here.”
“Are you still getting that?” asked Muffy. She sounded a bit smug and sanctimonious, and I knew what was coming next. “I e-mailed all my stores and asked them to not send me any more catalogs. Do you know how many trees it takes to make one Neiman Marcus holiday catalog? More like a forest!”
I couldn’t see behind Buffy’s sunglasses but I knew she was rolling her eyes.
“Am I supposed to give up everything?” she asked, hanging her pale legs over the side of the pool. “Brrr, this water is cold. Couldn’t you turn the heater on for just this last week of summer?”
Muffy looked at Buffy like she had just asked her to burn her Whole Foods recyclable tote bag.
“Are you aware what that would do to my carbon footprint?” she asked.
The three of us were starting to get on one another’s nerves. What with high air fares and the dollar’s exchange rate, the three of us had decided to stay home this summer rather than travel to any of our usual favorite places. We had agreed to meet one day a week at Muffy’s back yard pool – sort of a “stay-cation” club. “We can keep each other’s spirits up!” Buffy had stated cheerily, back in May.
And in the beginning of summer we did have fun. Rather than just hanging out at the pool, we expanded our “stay-cation” activities to include bicycling, taking public transportation for an entire day, and attending a fascinating session on organic beekeeping. I was feeling positively virtuous, especially when I heard of friends who had hired a private jet to take them to St. Bart’s. Obviously they didn’t care about their carbon footprint.
I moved my chaise out in the sun to ward off the slight chill in the air. My two friends looked on in horror from their spots in the shade. “Hello-oo!” shrieked Buffy. “Has someone here not heard of the damage sun can do?” She slathered on another coat of SPF 99 and adjusted her enormous hat.
“But look at us,” I said. “We look like we’ve spent the summer in an underground bunker. Besides, that sunscreen probably has more cancer-causing additives in it than the sun does.”
Buffy looked alarmed and examined her forearm, no doubt looking for new age spots.
“Anyone for a Pom and Vodka?” asked Muffy. Some time in July we had switched from grapefruit juice to pomegranate juice for the anti-oxidants. She trotted off to the kitchen and came back with our drinks and something for us to snack on. If you can call tofu chunks drizzled with sesame seeds and organic soy dipping sauce a real snack.
“Is it my imagination, Muffy, or is your pool water looking a little, um, less than clean?” I hated to ask her, knowing she would be offended, and rightly so. But, as I said, we were getting on each other’s nerves.
She gave me a look, which I deserved. Nevertheless. “Obviously you haven’t heard about the global water crisis. And after finding out that chlorine is so bad, well…” her voice drifted off, and she took a deep swig of her Pom and vodka. “Sometimes it’s just so hard.”
Buffy and I nodded in agreement. I had already replaced my lawn with decorative gravel, and donated my mother’s fur coat to the hospital thrift shop. I pulled apart my cereal boxes and flattened them, and rinsed out all soda cans for recycling day. I carried my hemp shopping bag with me everywhere, feeling both saintly and idiotic at the same time.
Another leaf, this one bright red, floated down, joining others in the pool.
“You know, it really hasn’t been all that bad,” remarked Buffy. “Staying home all summer, I mean. Please pass the vodka.”