It was a hot summer day in suburbia. Well, I call it suburbia. My grandpa said we lived in a forest and he swore up and down he’d get eaten by a bear when he came to visit. My grandfather’s definition of forest meant any bit of land involving a tree taller than him. And our yard had three large pine trees on a three-quarters of an acre lot. So by my grandfather’s definition, we lived in a huge forest. He also referred to any body of water as a “crick” (creek) even if it had Ocean or River in its proper title.
Anyway, in the forest, or suburbia, or whatever you want to call it, we lived in a neighborhood with a wide variety of socioeconomic statuses. My family lived in a smaller, older home amongst a neighborhood boasting million dollar mansions; we didn’t have luxuries like air conditioning or underground pools to keep us cool when the temperatures started to rise, or waterfront views of the Puget Sound to keep us occupied while we watched the maid fold laundry. But we did have the most bad-ass, kiddy pool ever invented as off 1999.
It was a three-foot-deep, blow-up pool (probably made in China, and therefore containing large amounts of lead) that took what seemed like five days to fill with air (really it took about 30 min, but that seems like forever when it’s hot out and you need some fast heat relief).
On one unassuming day, I decided it was time to take a dip. The pool was littered with countless floating toys and inner tubes that covered the entire surface area. Yes, we crammed that dinky pool with floating devices. You could only float about a foot to the left or the right, but if you closed your eyes you could pretend you were on a beach instead of in the forest.
I stood in the water, shuffling the inner tubes around, preparing to sit in one, when a dark spot in the corner of the pool caught my eye. Slowly, I moved the inner tube away. My eyes became wide as I realized that I was staring at something furry with a tail. I shrieked in horror, “AHHH!!!! THERE’S A DEAD SQUIRREL IN THE POOL!!!”
I jumped out of the water and ran shrieking to the shower, scrubbing my legs that had come into contact with the dead-squirrel water. I couldn’t scrub them hard enough. I wanted to throw acid on my legs.
My dad heard me screaming and came out wondering what was going on. I kept screaming, “DEAD SQUIRREL! DEAD SQUIRREL!” Even while scrubbing in the shower, I couldn't stop screaming.
He walked out there, and removed the dead squirrel with a shovel. “It must have fallen from that tree and drowned,” my dad said looking up at the guilty branch that led the squirrel to its fate.
When he lifted the squirrel out of the water, it was rigor mortis with its arms outstretched as if it had attempted to go against all biological instinct and swim. Its mouth was open, trying to emit a squirrel scream, oblivious that it was inviting water to invade its airways. The poor guy ended up being taken out with the yard waste on garbage day. What a terrible way to go.
I never wanted to see a squirrel again, but I didn’t get that lucky, as they frequented my parent’s back yard as though we lived in the backdrop of freakin’ Snow White. Every squirrel I saw reminded me of the dead one I took a swim with.
After I was convinced our kiddy pool was haunted with the soul of the squirrel, we ended up throwing it away. Okay maybe my mom was just concerned about bacteria. Who knows what kind of squirrel disease stuck to the lead-infested plastic, only awaiting us for next hot summer day. Regardless of the reasoning, we were rid of the retched pool.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but look before you leap (into the three-foot kiddy pool).