I do not do The Beach.
Not deserted strands where you walk to the sound of the waves' slow caress of the damp hardened sand with only your soul or your dog for company.
No, I mean The Beach.
The Beach that in another time meant sandwiches of ham and sand or jam and wasp.
The crowded Beach of squabbling siblings and noisy teenagers. Of the lobster red, basting with sun lotion. Of women, young or maybe not, face down, bra or bikini straps undone, of semi-adults loud in drink hoping for a glimpse of more. Humanity laid bare, or nearly so upon soft dry sand. Sand that goes home with you, sticking to the dampness of sun-screen, sweat or sea.
I am here for politeness sake. The friends that invited me to stay awhile in this sun-blest place, help guard The Beach from time to time, rescuing people from themselves and each other. They have a shift to cover and have secured me territory by the life-guard's high chair. I do the Aussie thing of 'slip-slap-slop' and settle to accept a form of idleness not of my choice.
Like some old hog roast, I turn myself from time to time to ensure an even bake. For variation I sit up and survey the scene around. The Chair and it's twenty something occupant mark the centre of a colony of basking females. I struggle to shake off the image of a bull seal surrounded by his harem. Too bad for them; my friends tell me he plays our different game.
Beyond the colony other beach activities are taking place and on one side a soft drinks stall. A steady file of folk strolls close by, heading to and from the stall. Some, mostly men, stray from the line, watching anything but where they're going.
A flash of red through the file catches my eye, then another. I watch and as the source grows closer it resolves into a young man, perhaps seventeen, running past the strollers. Barefoot, a white shell bracelet on one ankle and matching shell or coral necklace set off his light tan. His hair is just short enough to stand up and be inviting to a hand brushed through. His only attire – red Bermuda shorts. Nobody looks good in Bermudas. He is the exception that proves the rule.
In the moments before he passes by, I see his pleasant face is marred by a furrowed brow. His gait is not one of flight, nor does his gaze light on some action where he heads. What is the concern that troubles him so much.
My heart is overcome with desire.
Not the desire of lust, although I might have mistaken it as such in times past.
It is the desire to nurture, comfort and protect. The desire to relieve his concerns. Happy that my reward might be a smile. A parental instinct, vicariously applied, leaching past the long years of suppression practiced by one with no expectation of a child of his own.
Copyright © Pedro 2015.
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