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I'm an author, historian (Ph.D., WVU), musician, professor, and mountaineer. I have published two books, To Live Again, a classical myth set in contemporary Appalachia, and Defending the Homeland, a collection of essays on radicalism and national security. Welcome to my blog.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Cocoa Beach Journal - Entry II

Random Beach Observations

It is Tuesday in the afternoon on Cocoa Beach and I am in full beach bum mode. I don’t know what time it is and I don’t really care, just taking a moment to write down what I see. The beach is lively but relaxed and not overcrowded. A healthy breeze blows south, the waves are strong, and I am comfortable in the shade of an umbrella rented from Smitty. I’ve been reading from Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream and using a seagull feather I found in the sand as a bookmarker. In front of me some children – two boys and a girl – hastily construct a wall to protect their sandcastle from the coming tide. They are using plastic yellow shovels and the girl is chirping orders for the boys to dig a moat. They dig as though the fate of the world depends upon their speed.

A few paces to their right an old lady with a fancy hat tosses some kind of corn chip in the general direction of a seagull. The bird timidly accepts the gift and the lady is amused. She tosses a few more chips and, within seconds, is surrounded by seagulls and is now trying to shoo them away.

About six feet to my left I glance at a woman lying on her stomach on another rented chair. She is Latino and very beautiful. Her top is untied, her bikini is as black as her hair, and her oiled, bronze skin glistens under the sun. She is one of those rare women who you can stare at for an entire afternoon and it would not be wasted time. Sitting under an umbrella beside her is a much older man who does not stare at her at all but instead watches a cruise ship as it lurks across the horizon’s edge. He is nearly bald with a watermelon belly, grey chest hair, and wearing what looks like a gold Rolex watch. He is smoking a fat cigar and the breeze carries the scent to me. A cooler rests at his side and he periodically reaches inside and retrieves a Red Stripe. Both of them wear impressive wedding bands and her engagement ring is enormous. It even looks huge from where I sit. When she rises to sip from a bottle of water I notice her diamond necklace. In the two hours or so that they have been on the beach I have not heard either of them speak to one another.

A few young men with tattoos, waxed chests, and surfing boards that bear the Ron Jon’s insignia strut by three sunbathing girls who lounge on a large blanket in the sand. It’s funny. I remember when having a tattoo was unique and actually meant something. Now it just means you may have been to the mall or had a drunken night during Spring Break. The boys stick out their chests and try very hard to be impressive. I think one of them has highlights in his hair. Holy crap. No wonder the terrorists in Al-Qa’ida believe they can win. The boys just said hello to the girls and, after a brief exchange, rushed into the water with great enthusiasm. The girls are watching. Two of them have even risen up on their elbows. Ahhh… too bad. The boys don’t really know how to surf. They are being wiped out like splattered bugs on a windshield. Naturally, the girls are losing interest. One just rolled onto her stomach and is flipping through a magazine. The other two are refocused on getting a tan, or melanoma, or whichever comes first.

Ahead of me, I hear the little girl squeal as the first wave of the tide rolls over the sand wall and fills the moat that she and her two boy minions have tried so desperately to build. The next wave hits the foundation of the castle. The girl screams again and urges the boys to continue the struggle but they have had enough. One of the boys shrugs his shoulders, tosses the shovel aside, and heads into the surf. The other boy follows. “Well, fine then!” I hear the little girl say as she stamps her feet and marches over to what I assume is her parents’ umbrella. Another rush of water hits the castle and I’m reminded of the Hendrix song.

And so castles made of sand, melt into the sea, eventually…..

The song gets stuck in my head while the stunningly gorgeous Latino beside me stands abruptly and announces to her obese spouse that she is ready to leave. The man downs the last bit of his Red Stripe, stands, and stretches. He grabs his cooler and towel while she stoically gathers her belongings. As they walk away from the beach I hear her say that she wants to eat “somewhere really nice” tonight. The man responds with a grunt. It dawns on me that over the course of the entire afternoon that I shared the beach with them, this woman failed to smile a single time. What a shame. I would have liked to have seen her smile.

Taken from my personal journal - July 21, 2009

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