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Old 03-24-2003, 02:34 AM   #2
meretricious dilettante
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,068
My pink plastic glasses, translucent and heavy, slide down my nose as I squint in the brightness and cautiously navigate the shoulder of the road. Joanne crosses Lakeshore Drive ahead of me, striding out onto the blacktop of the crosswalk with nary a hitch in her step. Her bare feet are always tougher than mine.

We each carry large black tire tubes that are almost as large as we are, and beach towels. Joanne wears a blue and white Speedo tank, and I sport a green and white bandeau top with matching skirt bottom. Hers looks somehow right on her tanned and athletic body. Mine has little frogs and bubbles on it, and hangs awkwardly on my skinny hips.

I struggle to keep up with her, every step a grimace. "Joanne," I say finally. "Wait up."

I have allowed some of my distress to make something like annoyance creep into my voice, and we both hear it at once. I immediately regret it, and hold out hope that the moment will just pass. Perhaps she will have been distracted, and...

When she turns to look at me, though, I know I will not be so lucky. The worst is coming. She is going to say, "Well, sorrrreeeee," in a not-at-all-sorry voice, and spend the rest of the afternoon giving me the cold shoulder. Not a word will pass between us until at least tomorrow, and her mother will make us play games all evening in the cabin, blissfully oblivious to my discomfort.

It turns out to be something different. She cuts a look at my tube, which I am carrying up high against my waist, staggering slightly while she rolls her tube ahead of her, not missing a beat despite curbs and other obstacles.

I misinterpret, and put my tube down, rolling it ahead of me as she does, but without the skill. "Tsk!" she utters, giving me a dirty look, and picks hers up.

Again, I misstep, picking up the tube so she can feel comfortable putting hers down. "Tsk!" A more furious dirty look. I am doomed. The sun bores into my shoulders.

When I am sick after supper, sick as I always am lately, they pass me the cards to Clue under the bathroom door so I can keep playing. "You guys always play so well together," remarks Mrs. Walsh.
Because how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. -- Annie Dillard
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