Structo issue 11

Page 70

The Taste of Regular toni halleen


he sun is hot, and the sand burns our feet. I say “our” feet, meaning all the people on the beach. I am alone, but I always bring an extra beach towel with me and lay it out next to me, so people will think I’m here with a friend. My boyfriend, they might think. Maybe he went up to the concession stand to get us a couple of Cokes. I hope he gets me a diet, because I don’t like the taste of regular. I smooth our towels out. Mine is red and pink striped; his is purple and blue squares. They look good together. I don’t let any sand get on them. I have a tote bag with some lotion and goodies. Licorice is good for a day at the beach because it doesn’t melt. I have a gossip magazine to read for my guilty pleasure. I put on my wide straw hat and my sunglasses and adjust all the corners of our towels, ready for relaxation. I really look the part. It’s crowded, but that’s okay with me. I like to watch people. I imagine I know them. I give them names and backstories. I can usually figure out whether they are tourists or retired, married or unfaithful, happy or unhappy. Sometimes I imagine they look at me and my extra towel, and they wonder what my boyfriend looks like. Is he handsome and strong? Is he tanned? How did he get such a glamorous gal like me? Sometimes they catch me watching them, and they might smile or say hello. Usually they just look away and keep walking down the shoreline. I wave at some of them. People are walking around everywhere. Most of them walk back and forth on the cool, wet sand of the shoreline. Some walk on the dry sand, but it looks like it’s hot, and it hurts. They probably get used to it. I see a group of fun-loving frisbee players who seem determined to stay in the hot sand. Some kids are digging deep holes in the sand to bury their friends. When the hole gets deep enough, the sand cools, and that must be a relief for them. Some people leave their towels and walk across the hot part, through the wet sand and right into the ocean. I try to watch every single person who goes in the water. Most of them stop before they get knee deep. They linger there. I imagine they are feeling the waves encircling their ankles and the sand swallowing their feet. They step up out of the sunken sand and back into it; they walk around in the shallow water and talk to each other. They smile. It must feel good. If they see me, they probably wonder why my boyfriend is not back yet.