Monday, July 2, 2012

So, How Was Your Afternoon?

I was cold.  The sky was a milky gray – no blue was breaking through that barrier.  Clouds that looked like they wanted to rain but never did, blanketed horizon to horizon.  I walked next to Peter, one of my dad’s friends.  I could only see to the middle part of his thigh when I looked straight ahead.  I wasn’t above average height for a five year old by any means.

Gusts of wind churned up some of the beach sand.  They spattered my face and exposed skin like tiny stray bullets.  Otherwise, a steady breeze that would disturb only a few tree branches made its way down the beach.  This park had both beachfront areas and a picnic area for visitors.  We were picnicking. 

My dad brought a date.  And his friend.  And me.  Shortly before lunchtime, my father turned to his friend Peter, “Hey, why don’t you take LSV for a walk for a bit.”  Peter knew what my father was really asking.  At the time, I didn’t.

So Peter and I walked down the beach, braving the chilly breeze, wishing that I had on more than just shorts a t-shirt.  I felt as though Peter didn’t want to be walking with me, but I was happy to explore more of the beach anyway.

Before long, we came upon a crowd of people.  They all looked the same to me: monochrome shirts with khaki or jean shorts.  Brown hair and baseball hats. 

“Lets check this out,” Peter offered. 
I obliged and was excited because I got to go into the water.  Despite being cold, the water was always fun for me.

I immediately regretted wading into the shallow water.  While it was warmer than the air, the difference in temperature was jarring.  I wished even more for sleeves and a sandwich.  We shuffled in to the back of the crowd.  Small wind-driven waves lapped at my calves.  Splashes of water leapt up my legs.  I could feel the cold in my bones now.  I looked down at the water to find it awfully churned up: I could barely see my hand only two inches down from the surface.  Weeds tickled and teased my feet and ankles.  I knew they were there, I could seem floating, but I couldn’t see the ones near my feet.  That made me very uncomfortable.

I didn’t want to stop moving.  Lets keep going, I willed to Peter.  I looked up at him and his big round glasses, big round head, and receding hair line.  He did not look down.  I frowned and squatted so I could pull my shirt over my legs.  My butt hit the water and I was simultaneously cold and warm.  The water line on my shirt was moving up slowly, soaking up the oceanic waters.

“You want my shirt?” Peter finally looked down at me.
“No thanks,” I replied as I maneuvered my legs further under my shirt and continued to squat.  I was having less and less fun by the minute.

I stood up again and let the water drip from my shirt, as it did taking all the remaining warmth I had with them.  Following the stares of the crowd in front of me, I finally decided to find out why we were here. 

At the front of the pack, there was a rather large stage with banners of red and whites with advertisements saying “buy this!”.   Atop the stage was a man in jeans, a tank top, a cowboy hat, and a megaphone.  In his right hand he held a large pitcher with some kind of clear liquid as its contents.  His voice was blasting out, in what could only be phrases meant to stir up a crowd.  The crowd cheered. 

The man with the megaphone turned to his right and held the pitcher up over a rather large woman that was next to him.  This woman looked to be only a very large white t-shirt.  Her chest seemed as though it wanted to burst through her shirt even dry.  The next moment, the man with the megaphone dumped the liquid all down the front of the large woman’s shirt exposing the woman’s curves as the shirt adhered almost instantly to her.

The crowd cheered louder – a distinct basal tone which could not be mistaken for anything other than a crowd of men.

The woman with the extremely wet white t-shirt raised her shirt exposing herself.  She bounced several times so that nearly all of her upper torso seemed to jiggle and bounce with her.  This elicited a stronger cheer from the crowd.  I didn’t look at her long, but I was fascinated by her chest.  I stared at her for a short time wondering if it hurt to do that; indeed there was so much of her bouncing around up there.

I looked away for a moment and just as I did, I felt myself be swept backward and up in the air.  I thought I was very high off the ground and going very fast.  In another situation this may have been fun for me, but something I could feel in the air told me that this was not a time to be having fun.  The splashing of the water behind my father fascinated me too – I could see the trail leading to the spot Peter and I had occupied, and I saw the crowd was not as large as their cheers made them out to be.  Peter was left standing in the water, arms crossed, looking a mixture of surprised and confused.

My father hauled me off all the way to the picnic area, which wasn’t quite set up yet.  My father’s date waited for us there looking neither concerned nor anything really.  She just sat there, on the picnic blanket.

I was placed beside her and my father sat on her other side.  We ate silently for a time then my father’s girlfriend turned to me and asked, “So, how was your afternoon?”


  1. This reminds me of my best friend's story. When he was 12, his dad took him for a ride in a limo with hookers.

    My friend has some strange ideas about honesty too, like what she doesn't know won't hurt her. I think he's over it now that he's fairly newly married and with a 18 month old daughter. I haven't had the heart to ask him.

    1. Vicarious, I think there is DEFINITELY a connection between experiences like DH's and your friend's and their ideas about honesty later in life. I hope, for your friend's sake (as well as his wife's and daughter's) that he is not just "working" on his messed up ideas about honesty, but that he's conquering them.

    2. Indeed, operating under the premise of "ignorance is bliss" never worked. Well, it worked insofar as my mother (and subsequently I) used that idea to her benefit. What she (I) didn't tell anyone wouldn't hurt them.

      It does. Badly.