(You can listen to this piece on S2E31 of the podcast)
Sherry didn’t get her name from a sober mother, and as she studied her steps trying her best not to fall along this steep forest trail, she wished for a bartender at a resort serving her drinks by the pool. Make it a sexy twenty-something rugged boy with college fees to pay. She’d tip him extra if he braved the limbo bar— shimmying a bare, washboard chest to the beat.
“Grandma, here’s some wild huckleberries,” her eleven-year-old granddaughter Sasha announced, just two paces ahead of her on the Washington state trail they were on. Sherry widened her eyes and smiled so big, it was comical. She’d tried to look excited although her expression was as fake as her boobs. She’d gotten those done as a 50th birthday present to herself. A few years later, and the girls were holding up quite well. She couldn’t say the same of how she was holding up in these woods.
Sherry quickly chewed then swallowed the huckleberry proffered by her granddaughter, imagining instead that it was a maraschino cherry floating atop an old fashioned—her favorite drink. She tugged at the collar of the tacky fleece jacket she was forced to wear due to the cold wind cutting through the air. She tried to imagine the warmth of hot stones arranged in a line down her back during a massage session. \
“Fall is the best time to hike,” Sasha said, oblivious to her grandmother’s discomfort.
“Is that right?” Sherry responded, folding her arms against her body. She didn’t agree. There was no best time to hike. In fact, she’d protested this whole trip from the start. Sasha had begged the whole family to go camping for her eleventh birthday instead of taking Sherry up on a trip to Cancun. She’d offered this girl a trip to Cancun for Pete’s sake! Sherry’s children said a Cancun vacation was highly inappropriate for an eleven-year-old birthday celebration. But what did they know? Still, Sherry grinned and bared it all for her granddaughter.
They trudged ahead as Sherry considered booking a beach vacation for one next month. She’d spring for a deluxe, ocean-view room and order room service every morning. How she’d delight in eggs benedicts on toasted English muffins aside crispy bacon and a mimosa on the side. She’d met Sasha’s grandfather on vacation at a beachside bar eating that very same meal. Eight years his senior, still, he’d been eager to date her.
“Grandma, there’s a cougar!”
“That’s what your grandfather said, too,” Sherry responded absently.
“No, Grandma!” Sasha whisper-screamed, pinching Sherry back into reality. Her muddy puddle laden, uneven path trekking, mosquito-infested reality. Shocked, she sucked in a breath, unsure of what to do. Her granddaughter’s fingers tightened around her arm. Sherry thought back to her daughter’s words—“Mom, it’s irresponsible to take an eleven-year-old to a resort not explicitly advertised as ‘family friendly.’”
Well, Sherry thought, a cougar in Cancun versus a cougar anywhere else was much more agreeable to everyone involved. But what did she know?