My friends Maya and Juan invited me to visit their house. They bought it in February before covid. Because Juan had more free time due to the virus, he spent a great deal of time building a patio area in the backyard of his house. He’d told me a lot about it. After months of avoiding seeing it due to an abundance of caution, Maya called and asked me to drop by after work for lunch. She promised to make a huge helping of pico de gallo, regardless of what she prepared for the meal.
When I drove up, I could see that Juan had indeed gone out of his way to make the house the way he wanted it. Plants bordered the front and a single magnolia tree stood in the middle of the front yard. Along the far edge, a series of lush bushes and flowers stood.
Just as I was about to walk around the side of the house, Maya opened the front door and beckoned me to enter. “Juan will be out in a minute. Always late for everything!” she said and laughed. She gave me the tour. As we stood in the kitchen waiting for Juan to emerge, she pointed at the large tree to the left of the brick patio and seating area. “Look at that! Juan was so proud to get that tree. His friend Marcos got that tree from a yard that was completely redone. It’s too bad that they brought the wrong tree. It’s caused some problems with the neighbors.”
Before I could inquire, Juan exited the end of the house I hadn’t seen during Maya’s tour. We bantered and joked for several minutes.
“X, take this glass of tea and sit under the transplanted tree.” Juan handed me a glass filled with tea and ice cubes. “Maya and I will bring lunch in a minute.”
I exited through the French doors and walked across the hand-laid brick patio. Juan had spent a lot of time out there. It was impeccable.
I plopped down in the chair under the branches of the tree. I couldn’t tell it was a transplant. As I took a drink from my glass, a voice said, “You could lose a lot of weight, buddy.” I looked around and saw no one. I turned to see if a window was open. As I turned my head back to examine the area around me, I heard the voice again. “Who bought those clothes for you? Stevie Wonder?” I stood up immediately and slowly did a 360 under the tree. No one was around. Before I could get seated again, the voice said, “Don’t use a bowl to cut your hair the next time!”
I took my glass of iced tea and went to the French doors and entered the kitchen, out of the bright sun.
Before I even said a word, Maya smiled at me. “I see you found out why we wish the trees hadn’t been mixed up when we got them.”
Seeing that I was still a bit confused, Juan added, “Yeah, we forgot to tell you that it’s a SHADE tree.”