Women are dangerous. They can get me to do just about anything with a wink of their devious eye. Almost everything I've done in my life since before adolescence has been because of girls. Why did I want to be a Beatle? Why did I want to be a sports star? Why did I buy a surfboard? A sailboat? Why did I run a marathon, climb mountains, sleep in jungles and sail the ocean blue? Why did I read all those books?
Scoff if you will, but I was trying to make myself attractive to women. I didn't care about what boys thought. Never did. Nope. Early on, I got into fistfights because some tough guys girls liked my beautiful hip ways. I wasn't like their boyfriends, all greaser tough. Not me. Uh-uh. I had sweet boyfriend eyes and a sexy soul.
Stop it. You don't know. It could be true.
So when the girl who won't ask me out said, "Go to the beach. . . have an adventure. . ." what could I do. Without that prompt, I'd still be sitting in the house. But girl say go. Boy go. Ungawa!
I left at a good time. The traffic was light and the average highway speed was somewhere around 80mph. I was there PDQ. I went to the "Fat Beach," a beach on the far end of the island that used to be the only beach where negroes were allowed to go. As a kid, it was where my buddies and I would go to surf when the waves were big. Now, it is a beach of mostly families. I wasn't the fattest person there. . . just the fattest male.
The first thing--take a picture. Take more than one and overshare. Look at me! What a hero. I'm at the beach!!!
I sprayed myself with SPF 50 and walked down the stairs and onto the warm sand. What a day. It wasn't even 10:30. The sun was as gentle as it would be, the water table top flat. But it was high tide and there was barely a beach to walk on. What was there was deep, uneven, sloping sand. No matter. I walked. Or limped. It was o.k. Anyone walking on that uneven beach looked to be limping. I tested the water. Bath warm. I went in diving beneath the first wave. Oy! How long, oh, lord? Now the test. I made the swimming moves. My shoulder! The one that was broken so badly--it rotated. It was better, stronger, than it was a year ago. And so I swam. And swam. It was wonderful. It was glorious.
I rolled to my back and floated. I am fat enough to float more like a cork now. All my life, floating has not been an option. I have always sunk like a rock. Bone density, maybe. . . I don't know. But now, I am all head and belly and feet above water. I stood up in waist deep water and ran. You know. Trying out my knee. I got out of the water and walked some more. Then I went back into the water and swam. I would get skinny. Slim, at least. I'd lose ten pounds before I went back to the car.
After an hour and a half, I was worried I'd be getting too much sun. I've always been good at knowing and avoiding sunburns. I grabbed a towel and a change of clothes and walked up to the showers. I felt good. I felt really good.
I got a text from Travis. It was a picture of the beach. He was at his in-laws condo at the other end of the island. I sent him a picture back, one of the beach and a selfie of my handsome self with the beach in the background. "But I have no condo."
"AI," he responded.
I decided to go to my favorite French bakery to get lunch. I'm like the Rain Man. Always the same. A simple turkey and provolone with lettuce and tomato on French bread. When I pulled into the parking lot, I saw I had a text. It was Travis. He'd sent photos of the French bakery. I wondered if he was inside. I took a quick pic of the outside of the bakery and sent it to him before I went in. But he wasn't there. I must have just missed him.
I sent him back a photo of pastries. They have the best pastries. Wonderful things. With my sandwich, I got a caramel cream puff and a bag of coconut macaroons to go. My plan was to take the sandwich back to the beach and eat it there, but I couldn't wait. I opened the bag and pulled out the sub. I poured the oil and vinegar on. It would, of course, go right through the bread, so being brighter than usual, I put a towel under it. Eating in the car in a parking lot facing a block wall. Christ. . . this was living.
And of course, I continued to overshare. "Look at me. . . look at me!!! I'm out of the house. Ain't I your hero?"
When the sandwich was gone, I drove down the street to a surf shop. I like surf shops. They have stuff. Or used to. They had little balance boards and trinkets, little beaded bracelets and tropical amulets. I mean, sure, they have all the other stuff--boards and leashes and sex wax, but once you have a board and a leash what is there to do but buy trinkets to look cool. They used to have DVDs of surfing and Kelly Slater video game discs. Maybe it was Covid. . . I don't know. . . but most of that stuff is gone now.
I bought a shirt.
"Hey. . . hey. . . I bought a shirt!" Look at me. . . look at me!!!!
Every inch the hero now, I drove to the little beach town, the single strip of shops and restaurants, the main entrance to the beach. Yup. This is one of the only beaches in the country you can drive on. They used to have stock car races that were partially on the beach many years ago. It is a legacy.
But by now it had gotten hot. Too hot. And after walking the avenue and looking out over the beach, I decided to make my way home.
I drove back through many blinding summer squalls, but I had chosen a good time. Traffic was light. I got back to town almost as quickly as I got to the beach, and I stopped at the store for beer. I would eschew whiskey, I told myself. Whiskey was making me fat. I can never drink more than two beers, though, and that is not so many calories. I'd read somewhere that Modello was becoming the best selling brand in America. Must taste like horse piss. I'd get some and see.
When I got home, I emptied the car of camera bags, beach stuff, and groceries. For some reason, I wanted order. This has not been my lazy way over the Covid years, but I felt energized. First off, I put everything away in its place, then I cleaned the kitchen which still had the morning dishes in the sink. I wiped down the counters, lit a cheroot, and opened a beer. Yup. Horse piss. I squeezed some lime in it ti try to disguise the taste. I called my mom, one of the people with whom I had overshared. Not that she knew. I don't think she looks at most of my texts. If she does, she never responds. . . but she probably doesn't know how.
"Hey, ma. . . if you want to see me tonight, you will have to come here. I just got home. I'm beat."
There was thunder in the distance, then closer. As I sat on the deck, a light rain began. A day in the sun, hours of driving, and a beer. I was fading. I knew I needed to shower before I collapsed. I stripped and looked in the mirror. The golden glow was beginning to show. And look how skinny I had gotten!
I had thought not to eat dinner. I would just drink beer. But. . . with nothing else to do, I started putting together a salad. Baby spinach/spring salad. I chopped beets, avocado, cherry tomatoes, garlic. I sprinkled in some garbanzo beans. Kosher salt, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I switched to wine. There was hardly any whiskey in the bottle. Good. I would only have beer and wine. I sat down and switched on YouTube. I did a search: "Surf videos."
I was bored quickly. All the hipster/punk surfers mug for the camera, then they talk about how surfing is spiritual, how they used to have so many inner demons, but now. . . you know. . . the ocean and the sky. . . and, dude. . . becoming one with the wave. . . .
They don't make them like they used to.
That's me, Jeff, and Sticks in the 9th grade with our first surfboards. My parents had brought us to the beach, hence the film. I decided I needed to put this together for my friends with whom I was oversharing. Under the images, I put the music of the time. It took a bit. Either they keep updating Premier Pro or I forget quickly what I had learned just weeks before. But I was able to slap something together. I would be able to irritate my friends.
I got hungry and warmed up leftover rice and pork and beans. I poured a whiskey. The bottle was empty. You know what I did after that. Shameful.
I finished the evening rewatching the last episode of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" again. I won't talk about it anymore. But goddamn. . . the whole thing was better the second time through. And again, I cried like a baby.
"What are you doing?"
"Have you ever watched "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel?"
"No. I don't turn on my t.v."
Oh, wow. I almost felt ashamed. This was hopeful. I was impressed.
"What do you do at night with the t.v. off?"
"I read USA Today and the local paper on my phone. I play Wordle and Seven Little Words, and recently the NYT Connections."
Oh. . . shit.
Well. . . this morning there is a video sent by Red from her hotel bed. She wishes I were there tonight to take to dinner. Jazz played in the background. Bare legs. A room with a view.
Maybe I will go to Vegas. To be a hero, I mean. To be liked by the girls.