I just read the most interesting short story, and one that took me completely by surprise.
John Cheever’s “The Swimmer” starts off with a suburban man who, instead of driving or walking home, decides to swim home. Ok, not that abnormal…until you realize he’s going to frog hop through his neighbors’ pools!
Now, in modern day society, this would be absolutely crazy, right? We hardly know our next-door neighbors’ names anymore, let alone feel comfortable enough with them to just show up uninvited to swim. But, in the country club society that Neddy Merrill lived in, no one seemed to think this odd. They offered him drink after drink at their afternoon garden parties, hugged him, toasted to him, even acted offended as he hopped off to the next pool!
At least at first.
The farther across the county Neddy got, and the closer he got to home, the stranger things became. As long as he was distanced from his home, things were just dandy, joyous, fun. But life really started to circle the drain, so to speak, as he closed in on his own back yard.
This is one of those rare short stories that really reached out and grabbed me. It doesn’t happen often, but I wanted more. I want to know where his family is, I want to know what happened at the party the night before. So many questions!
If you get a chance, go read this story. I found it in Short Fiction: Classic and Contemporary Sixth Edition by Charles Bohner and Lyman Grant.
For a real treat, you can even listen to Cheever’s read the work himself here. Thanks Catherine, for sharing this with me!