Editor’s Note: We’re still in the “House of Blues” in Atlantic City. (Previous installment found here.) I have just offended Bubbles by somehow implying that she’s not my friend. Slightly-harsh words were exchanged, and Bubbles stomped into a dressing room to concoct an appropriate punishment. I was huddled near a worthless salesclerk, fully expecting to be annihilated by a death ray from Bubzilla at any moment…
Bubbles marched toward me, her look indecipherable as she tossed back whatever garment it was that she had given a test run, finding the thing unsuitable. Just before she reached the point where I was standing with Terry, she barked some cryptic message into her phone, probably arranging for a stealthy hit on the Boardwalk that would snuff out my life while she innocently fed bits of corndogs to the seagulls.
Bubbles stopped in front of the two of us. “Hey, husbands,” she said blithely. “Ready to head outside and see some more sights?” Then she smiled brightly, as if she had just received word from her doctor that the annoying diet had been successful and the cholesterol numbers had dropped.
This confused me. Was I going to die or not? Was she toying with me or was she truly over it? I’m sure that part of her master plan included intentional statements that would keep me in the dark, quivering and uncertain. I looked at Terry with an expression that indicated he must now ensure my safety, as couples in strong relationships should do. He looked back with an expression that I was a big boy and I was entirely responsible for my own actions.
I immediately ran to the checkout counter to make my purchase of the evil pink t-shirt that had resulted in threats to my livelihood. Bubbles was already upset with me about the misperceived status of our relationship, so there was no point in jeopardizing things with lackadaisical consumer transactions. I begged the cashier to proceed at full throttle, lest there be bloodshed. The cashier did not understand words with more than one syllable but she at least sensed the urgency, and she quickly shoved the bagged t-shirt in my direction.
Bubbles led the procession out of the store, deftly knocking aside stupid people who dared to get in our way. There was brief confusion when we neared a place where folks were lined up for some type of world-famous hot dogs, because apparently those folks did not understand that their need for processed tubes of discarded animal parts did not justify blocking the exit path of a Diva with her husbands. Bubbles unleashed magnificent powers from her manicured fingertips, and the sea parted.
Back on the Boardwalk, with the sun lowering and a very nice breeze cooling things off and carrying away the stench of unwashed humans who don’t understand hygiene, we approached the ocean side of the Boardwalk and gazed at the gently crashing waves. The sight inspired Bubbles and Terry to scamper down a nearby rickety staircase and dash across the sand, the call of nature ringing in their ears.
I guess my personal cell phone reception wasn’t up to par, because I wasn’t feeling this call, but I followed my companions nonetheless, not wanting to be left out or re-inspire Bubbles to contact nefarious characters named Guido who would cut me down for the price of a good bottle of Chianti and maybe an extra button undone on her colorful frock.
Bubbles, because she had wisely chosen to wear simple sandals that effortlessly coordinated with her comfy summer couture while still allowing for impromptu wardrobe changes, quickly snatched off her footwear and raced into the waves, giggling with release and delight. Terry followed suit, albeit with a brief pause while he struggled out of his socks and tennis shoes.
This left me standing there, fully clothed, clutching my “House of Blues” bag with the evil pink t-shirt and a magnet that I had impulse-purchased which read “Be Nice or Leave”. I didn’t know if I particularly wanted to expose my tootsies to the elements. Sand was involved. Sand gets into places that it shouldn’t. Which is fine if you just want to frolic on the beach and drink beer. Not so fine if you have to eventually wander back into fancy casinos in search of more alcohol. I don’t want bits of quartz shooting out of my ass while I order a vodka gimlet. (Best drink ever, when made right.)
But I got into the moment, casting aside my normal anal tendencies to control everything around me. Off came the shoes, off came the socks, both of which were quickly shoved into my “House of Blues” bag, probably ruining the stupid t-shirt that had led to vindictive utterances from a Mafia Princess. Two seconds later, salty water was crashing into my shins and soaking my crotch.
And it was fine, indeed.
I’ve been to many beaches, but the years between visits erode the sensation, dim the pleasure, and you forget. There’s something amazing and mystical about the push and pull of the tide. This primal sense of things bigger than us. Coupled with the immediacy of small treasures brought forth by the lapping waves. An interesting piece of shell. An odd rock worn by time. A fragment of faint, decorative tile, perhaps once attached to a long-ago seaside villa that no one remembers. The swift, skittering tiny birds that race along the shore and pick at bits of interest in the sand.
The garish and intrusive yowling from the Boardwalk faded away.
Real nature, or as close as we can get. Man insists on leaving his footprints, everywhere, shallow beast that he is.
We wandered along the shore, heading, I don’t know, probably south. (It’s odd when you travel, how directions seem to lose meaning, even though they are right where they’ve always been.) We made our way under a few of the abandoned piers, ancient stalwarts of strength, jutting to a destination that is no longer.
Things have changed in Atlantic City and Galveston and Málaga and EveryTown that shares land and water, many things. Buildings have burned and people have passed and memories have gone missing.But this sense of other-place is still there, once you break free from that yammering flow of blindered humanity, oozing on the Boardwalk, lured by trinkets and hawked nothingness, unable to see what is right there in front of them.
We sat on the sand. We talked. We envisioned. We silenced and listened.
“I want more,” I suddenly said, offering no further definition. Far off, in many somewheres, the words echoed, soft repetitions, musings of other souls who sit on beaches and feel the beating rhythm of an ancient heart.
No one spoke for a while. Well, not the humans.
The waves continued to crash, carrying far more secrets than I could ever fathom…
To Be Continued…
Previously published. Modified somewhat, especially the last third, where I copiously watered the original seed.
For the record, Bubbles is still in town, and we’re still going and getting, so my blogging time is limited. This is where I would normally insert some babble about “I’ll catch up on the comments soon!”, because that’s my instinctive, please-everybody reaction. But really, I’ve been finding bits of interest on my own personal beach these days, faded seashells of forgotten importance. I feel their echoes. And I want to feel more. It might be a few tide cycles before I catch up on things. Then again, I might not ever.
And I’m fine with that.
I hear a heartbeat and I remember that neglected, youthful, hopeful rhythm.
P.S. Photo provided by Partner. Because he’s good at such things.