"Okay, it's your turn," I say, hastily wiping
my hair from my eyes. Ribbons of chlorinated water roll
from the crown of my head to my brow. The dribbles continue
to the tip of my nose where they dangle momentarily before plopping
back into the vastness of the swimming pool. Tonya has
no droplets of water on her face. When emerging from the
water, she simultaneously blows delicate bubbles from her nose
and tilts her head back so that her hair washes away from her
face. Then she uses her hands like windshield wipers on
her eyes and forehead to thwart the lingering beads of water.
you go again. I can't ever think of anything funny to
say," she pleads, and I'm forced by her flattery to quickly
think of some repartee before immersing my head again.
the water, I open my eyes and her hair, a light brown she calls
"honey-kissed chestnut," is a floating frame for her
Smith is a big butt hole." The words escape my mouth
in large bubbles that rocket to the surface of the water, and
Josh Smith's status as a butt hole is ingeniously hilarious
in my eleven-year-old mind.
WHAT?" she gargles, and I start to laugh, a precarious
feat when submerged in the deep end. Tonya laughs, too.
We lock hands and vigarously kick our way to the surface, gasping
for air and laughing hysterically as we struggle to seize the
slippery blue tile bordering the pool.
can't pay attention to what you're saying because I keep laughing
at the faces you make," she says as she inches her way
to the ladder, giggling as she climbs out of the crystalline
water. I extend my arms over my head and arch into a full
back dive, forcing air from my nose throughout the entire revolution.
When I return to the surface, Tonya is standing poolside above
me, wringing the water from her hair. The excess dribbles
and splashes around me. "Let's lay out for a while."
agree, and we head across the sweltering concrete to our towels.
I park myself on the ground, face first into Flowers in
the Attic. Tonya's protocol for tanning requires
supplementary efforts. She begins by straightening her
towel on the lounge chair beside me. She tosses her head
forward as she bends at the waist, allowing all of her hair
to dangle toward the ground, and then begins a series of twists
and tucks of her tresses. When she returns to and upright
position, her honey-kissed hair is a crown upon her head.
lowers herself onto the chair in a deliberate position that
allows for optimum sun exposure. She begins carefully
slathering her legs and waist with her special tanning concoction,
taking extraordinary care to avoid getting any gunk on her ruffled
yellow bikini. According to her, the potion--a mixture
of baby oil and iodine--must be periodically recapped and vigorously
shaken to break up and redistribute the floating blobs.
This entire process takes several minutes, and when she is finally
finished, I tell her that I'm ready to get back in the water.
She ignores me, realizing that I'm just trying to spite her,
and reclines in the chair where she closes her eyes.
have suspended my reading to observe this process in disgust.
I toss my partially waterlogged book at my feet and roll my
eyes. I think to myself as I rest my head on the warm
terry cloth beneath me, She is always like this.
version available in the 2004 Harbinger.