I have started tanning in my backyard, to speed up death if dermatologists are to be trusted (and they are). Not to worry, I put sunscreen on the important bits, the ones that age. I bought a tanning chair specifically for lying my body out in the sun like a ball of dough in an oven. The tanning chair even has—and this is grotesque, I know—a hole for your face so that when you flip over on your stomach, which I am wont to do every 15 minutes, you can lie flat. It cost me the best $78 of my life, that chair.
I’ve taken to going out around lunch time with a book, a massive mason jar-mug combo of ice water, sunglasses and a towel. I don’t know why but I keep wearing a bra as a bathing suit top; the bra is indistinguishable from a bathing suit top, but if you must know, it’s a bra. The bottoms are credible swimsuit bottoms, don’t worry.
And then I lie there and try to read—which could be relaxing—and instead worry about the enormous palm tree that is right above me.
This palm tree is huge. I’m very bad at estimating size but it’s probably at least 80 feet tall but if someone told me, “Sophia, you ignorant cabbagehead, palm trees only grow 40 feet tall,” I would be like, “Ok, that’s fair.” But this thing is huge.
One day it will probably fall on the house-cum-three-apartments that I live in and kill at least some of the occupants. That’s how my disaster fantasies about this palm tree always start, with it falling on the house. Then I start to wonder if my landlord has checked on this particular tree; do trees get inspected when you buy a house? If they do, did she actually get this tree inspected? I know that this isn’t how things work, but palm trees always just seem like they could snap like a stick of asparagus because of their shape and I’m certain that this tree is going to fall on my house someday, and I don’t want the headache of that.
The worst would be if it killed everyone but me somehow. Maybe I’m out shopping or I’ve gone around the corner to the liquor store to get one of those low calorie lemonades I like (in this scenario, my acid reflux is under control and I can drink citrus drinks again). And then, while I’m heading home I see the tree fall at a perfect diagonal, crushing all three apartments killing everyone inside. Then the rest of my life is ruined by the survivor guilt of a palm tree incident; I’d certainly have to move out of Los Angeles, even if the palm trees are technically all starting to die out because they were mostly planted around the same time in the 1920s and palm trees only live so long, you know, so now they’re all dying. It’s not like they’re native plants!
But also, I’m tanning right underneath this tree. It doesn’t block the sun or anything, don’t worry, palm trees are useless in that regard; in fact, they’re useless in most regards that aren’t just being cool trees to look at and being tacky on souvenir shot glasses (You are enough palm trees! Don’t despair!). So it’s not even just an issue of the tree falling on the house. I’m pretty sure that if one of the palm fronds* fell off the tree from 80 feet up (or 130, or 40, or however tall this sucker is) and impaled me, I would die.
And maybe not even instantly! Maybe I would just suffer massive internal and external bleeding and my boyfriend wouldn’t even notice or come check on me because I’m in the backyard tanning—a real relaxing activity, or at least it was until a palm frond landed on me. Why would he come back and check on me. How long would it take for him to come back and check on me? I mean, it would have to be a while, maybe even nightfall for it to occur to him that maybe I’m not tanning anymore. He’s not the kind of guy to worry that I’m out there getting killed by our neighbor’s palm tree.
Today she started swaying, which really set me off. She looked like someone who was trying to find the right time to jump into a double-dutch situation, but instead deciding whether or not to keel over and murder me or the pizza place next door. She was really swaying and I know the whole parable about how big trees fall in the storm but the little saplings who can bend survive— and she does seem kind of bendy— but she’s also massive! Maybe she’s the big tree in the fable.
I keep meaning to look up how often trees fall on houses and kill people. I also keep meaning to look up how often palm trees fall, but it’s very sunny outside (hence the tanning) and it’s hard to see your phone when it’s sunny.
I’m 100% certain that I’m going to get killed by the palm tree.
Anyway, I keep going out there every day to try to relax.
*I only learned the word fronds when I came to LA. Everyone was saying it and I was like…. ok… be honest: what the hell is a frond.