Silver Fox

Written By: Peter  Sherwood


“Yes, lovey?”

“A friend of mine wrote a play. It’s three nights only in the city, at least for now. Would you want to go? On the 25th? If not, I’d go with Camille.”

“Sure, I’ll go. What’s it about?”

“I don’t know yet.”

“That’s fine. It’s important to support the arts, especially the little people.”

A few minutes later …

“What you said about your friend writing a play, that reminds me … I’m thinking of entering a contest. Literary nonfiction.” (“Totally up my alley,” Pete thought to himself. “By the way, to whom [who?] else would I think? I guess I just thought. Not to myself. And I really should learn grammar and punctuation, in case some of this is embarassingly wrong. At least I know how to spell ‘embarassingly.’ ”)

“That’s right up your alley.”

“That’s what I thought. And it’s five thousand dollars. I picked up Dan’s Papers as usual last time we were out east (“The fried pickles at Elbow Room, yum!,” Pete thought). They’re doing it. By the way, the Police Blotter seems different now, not nearly as funny as it used to be, at least not in that issue.”

“What would you write about?”

“The times we stayed in Amagansett. The beach was so beautiful. So wide, so peaceful. The dunes. The scraggly flowers. Gorgeous. (“Dunes,” thought Pete. “That’s an odd-sounding word. Going to have to look up the origin … and ‘gorgeous’ … and ‘scraggly.’ ”) I hope it’s still that way. The only one we’ve been to that compares was in Eleuthera.”

“Good idea.”

“The only problem is, remember when we came home late two nights in a row and we saw a silver fox both times in our headlights?”

“Yes. Why?”

“That was a great sign or symbol of something, I’m not sure what. Maybe just how pastoral things can still be out there.”

“What’s the problem?”

“I don’t think it could have been a silver fox. (“There goes the idea for my entry,” Pete thought.) I looked it up. Ours was grayish-brown … not as dark as a silver fox. Like a coyote or a wolf, but I looked them up, too. There are coyotes in the Hamptons now, but ours was heavier than that. Like a wolf, I guess, but I don’t think there are any wolves there.”

“Maybe it was a red fox. They can look brown.”

“I don’t think it was any kind of fox. It was taller than a fox.”

“Was it was a taller than a box, this tall brown fox?”

“Thanks a lot … I doubt Dr. Suess will help my chances. And it wasn’t quick. Or jumping over a lazy dog. Plus now everyone will know that whereas this story is entirely true (“What I wouldn’t give for people to stop saying “while” when then mean “whereas,” thought Pete), I have taken poetic license with small portions of the dialogue. And the rules say NO POETRY ALLOWED.”

“What did you say?”

“I was saying that my first idea for my entry may not work.” (“Stupid silver fox. I used to love foxes but now I hate them.”)

“Uh-oh. What will you do instead? Keep in mind that you’re more David Sedaris and less David Foster Wallace.”

“You’re supposed to build me up, not tear me down.”

“You have something against Sedaris?”

“Certainly not. But when you make that comparison … ”

“Can we agree you’ll never be as good as either of them or Spalding, but that we all still love you and deeply appreciate their work and are heartbroken they’re no longer here?”

“I think Sedaris is still … ”

“Well that’s a relief.”