Fun at the beach

We were sitting side by side on the blanket, the beach stretching away to both sides of us as beaches are apt to do. It was half empty being late in the afternoon and a Tuesday. Business at the board rental places and the bike rental places and the little bars and cafes had dropped off heavily after Labor Day. We’d gone into the water right away upon arrival, to cool off after the drive out from the valley. Now we were resting on the blanket.

I reached out and touched her shoulder. “You’re cool, “ I said moving closer to her.

“Yeah,” she said shifting away from me, “And you stay cool, too.”

“Relax,” I said. “The lifeguard will save you if I attack.”

“I won’t need any lifeguard,” she said over the top of her shades.

“Then he’ll save me. Any way you look at it, he’s got to save somebody. He gets paid by the life.”

She frowned at me for a second, her eye brows rising. She looked over at the lifeguard, and then the absurdity set in and reality rushed back to save her. “He is not,” she said , challenging me.

“Had you going for a second,” I said smiling.

“You did not! Who’d believe a thing like that?” Then she peered intently at me again, pulling the shades down her nose. “Who’d even think up a thing like that? What kind of mind have you got, Timothy Burke?”

“Discontinuous,” I said still grinning ear to ear. “I think of something and then I think of something else, and there’s never a connection between them.”

She nodded, studying me, and then she said, “That’s it. That’s what’s been bothering me.”

“Me too.”

She ignored me as she had every right to, and said, “You ‘re not a scientist. I knew there was something wrong from the first minute I saw you, and that’s what it is. You aren’t really a scientist. You don’t think like a scientist.”

“Neither do you,” I said defensively.

“Oh, yes I do. I’m all straight lines. I have an ordered thought process. I go from A to B, step by step by-“

“Oh, come on,” I said

“You know what I mean. Stop playing games and listen.”

“Yes, ma’am!” I sat up straight and saluted.

“I go directly at a problem,” she said. “I keep trying to put things in order. I straighten things all the time. I’m tidying up right now.”

“I guess you are at that,” I said.

“And you are not at all like that,” she said.

People were running into the waves and the waves were throwing them back on to the sand. Then they’d get up and run into another wave, and that wave would throw them back on the sand. Fun at the beach.

“What do you really want to be, Tim?” she asked.

“How about a poet,” I blurted out, not thinking. I felt myself blushing and turning my eyes away, looking out at the ocean to cover my confusion.

“You,” she said, and I could feel her gloating besides me, pointing a finger at me. “I’ve found you out!” she said.

I suddenly felt very nervous. A part of me that had always been tucked away on a closet shelf in the seedy summer cottage I use for a mind had just been dragged out onto the lawn for the very first time and shown to a girl I didn’t really know. Back in school I used to write poetry  when I should have been studying calculus. I’d read it aloud to myself at night in my room.

“A poet?” she said, astonished.

I looked at her. Now that the secret was out, I was prepared to defend it to the death. Maybe the lifeguard would make a buck today. “Why not?” I said. “Timothy Patrick Burke, Nobel laureate. What’s wrong with that? I think it sounds like someone who would read poems at Presidential inaugurations or coffee houses in Greenwich Village. Moving the masses to tears and revolution. Huh? What’s wrong with that?”

She was grinning at me in surprise and pleasure. “Well, I’ll be damned.” she said.

“The Irish make great poets, you know.” I said, the whole thing spilling out now, hidden away for nearly a decade and now bursting into the light. “I’ll grow a beard and stop getting hair cuts and start using a brogue.”

“Man, you’re a wonder,” she said. She kept grinning at me and shaking her head.

Who was this girl, Beth Rogers? We’d just met yesterday, we were complete strangers to each other, and here I was telling her about wanting to be a poet, something I only joked about to myself. I was sorry I’d done it and felt somehow diminished in her eyes. I wished I could call all the words back in and put them back in the trunk and make it a non-event. But I couldn’t.

“Listen, I said, we’re both going to burn if we don’t go back in the water for awhile. Feel like it?”

She stared at me for a minute more, then said, “Why not.” She held her hand out and I helped her to her feet. I was about to let go and run for the cool anonymity of the waves but she held tight to my hand until I met her eyes. Then she said, “You’re a nice guy, scientist or poet. Okay?”

“Okay,” I said and grinned back at her though I still felt nervous about it. Though not as much.

We ran side by side into the ocean and the ocean threw us back. We ran in again and it threw us back again. We ran in again. Fun at the beach.

RC (not the cola)

© 1987 Robert Carraher All rights reserved

About DirtyLowdown
I was born in Pomona, California at a very young age. I had a pretty normal childhood…or I was a pretty normal child hood if mom is telling the story. I was a paperboy who always porched , usually on the subscribers porch. I washed cars and bussed tables which left me with a life time affliction of chapped lips. I was a soda fountain jock-jerk and a manic mechanic but my first real job was as a labor organizer in a maternity ward. Then, because of the misjudgment of a judge I spent nearly 10 years in the service of our country mostly on KP duty. Our country sure turns out a lot of dirty dishes. I am a past master at pots and pans. They eventually recognized my real talent and let me wander around some very unfriendly places carrying a big radio that didn’t work. Along the way I took up the bass guitar, jotting down stories, electronic engineering and earned a degree in advanced criminal activities. I spent most of my adult life, if you can call it that, working in the I.T. industry, which I was particularly suited for since we worked in rooms with no windows. On and off I taught in colleges, universities and reform schools as a student teacher… I like smog, traffic, kinky people, car trouble, noisy neighbors, and crowded seedy bars where I have been known to quote Raymond Chandler as pickup lines. I have always been a voracious reader, everything from the classics, to popular fiction, history to science but I have a special place in my heart for crime fiction, especially hard-boiled detective fiction and noir. I write a book and music review blog for all genres at The Dirty Lowdown and another dedicated to Crime Fiction and all things Noir called Crimeways. It’s named after the magazine that appeared in the Kenneth Fearing classic, The Big Clock. There I write scholarly reviews of the classic hard boiled, noir and crime fiction books from the 20's through today. Mostly I drool over the salacious pictures on the covers. I also write for Technorati/BlogCritics where I am part of a sinister cabal of superior writers.

3 Responses to Fun at the beach

  1. Marty says:

    Robert, you have an intriguing and engaging writing style. I am really enjoying your work and your play! Thanks, I will be back for more.Marty

  2. Robert says:

    Thanks Marty

  3. Michelle says:

    Robert, you do have a way with words. My mind began to recall when i was at the beach in Waikiki this January. The warmth of the sun on my skin and sand under my feet, the sound of waves and voices of other beach lovers chatting and laughing in a distant all flowed back like waves to the shoreline. Its a precious moment to recall.
    Keep up the good work my good friend.

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