Word Count: 462
Early Cocktail Hour
By Peg Scarano
Summer days were the best. The pool was truly a worthwhile investment on those hot, humid, sultry days. The only drawbacks were the various degrees of swimming skills of, not only my kids, but the neighborhood children as well. Lifeguarding was the antithesis of the warm, relaxing sun and cool water.
My best friend and wine-drinking pal lived next door. Her oldest and mine were a year apart while her youngest and my middle child were inseparable, born only 6 weeks apart. The older two had enough swimming skills to allow us to feel comfortable taking our eyes off them for small moments at a time. The younger two, while very confident in themselves, had not yet instilled their confidence in their moms. They had no fear and we were constantly on high alert.
As moms and friends, Joanne and I had a lot in common. We both enjoyed reading, walking, comparing notes on childhood adventures and, of course, drinking wine. However, I loved swimming and Joanne…well, not so much. She enjoyed swimming in bath water while I liked to swim to cool off. This one lifestyle difference certainly did not affect our neighborly relationship but did limit Joanne’s time in the pool – to practically no time at all.
So the sunny afternoon was passing peacefully. The children were swimming, diving and playing Marco Polo and making normal childhood water racket – usually pretty deafening. For just an instant, the noise dropped a decibel. Joanne and I looked at each other – looked in the pool and at each other again. Her daughter, Erika, was silently floating face down on the water while the other three, oblivious, continued with their antics.
Joanne sat up and called her name. “Erika.” Pregnant pause. “ERIKA!” “E-R-I-K-A!!” Joanne flew from her chair fully clothed and dove into the cold water that she so hated. As soon as she hit the water, Erika’s head popped up and she screamed in her little girl squeak, “MOM! What are you doing?” Choking, Joanne gasped, “I thought you were drowning! You weren’t moving. You weren’t breathing! You didn’t answer me when I called your name!”
In her sweetest little girl voice, Erika, squealed in delight, “Yes! I did it! I did the perfect dead man’s float! Aren’t you proud of me?”
I never saw Joanne get exasperated with Erika before – only her son. She quietly swam to the ladder, her clothes and hair drenched and her body shivering with the wet coldness. She calmly walked over to me and her chair, wrapped herself in a dry towel, sat down and whispered, “I believe it’s time to start cocktail hour.”
The swimming skills had obviously improved significantly and I recalled my dad saying, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!” I went and got the wine.