The Beach Diaries 2012 – #20
* On the way into town, three teenage girls walk towards me from the opposite direction. As we pass, one stops and speaks.
“Excuse me…” Wait. Don’t tell me. Could you possibly be in need of a light, m’lady?!
“She thinks you’re fit,” she says, pointing at her friend. Ah, Option B. There’s literally two reasons and two reasons alone for one stranger to address another. They either want a light, or to hit you with a hilarious dose of that highschool hallway sarcasm. Just as Tarot-believing flakes would have us think we’ve simply forgotten our telepathic sixth sense, so humans of the future will lose the ancestral ability of any communication beyond these two essentials. “Got a light?” and “Oi Oi, sexy!” are all that will remain.
* A man lays dying on the pier. People step over him as he fades.
“Excuse me,” he pleads, a single 999 call from salvation; that primal, basic human instinct to survive, that instinct to – “Have you got a light?” They shake their heads and keep on walking. No, he thinks, confused, the edges receding into grey and everything becoming vague. There’s something else. There used to be something else. He falls beneath the shadow of an obese woman, who stands slurping on an ice-cream, her chin a mess of red spots and faint little hairs.
“Excuse me,” he says from the floor, “please!” Her gaze flits downwards, and with his final breath — “I’d well shag your brains out!” That got her, he thinks, as the light goes out of his eyes, I actually wouldn’t shag her at all.
* A group of friends banter with an acquaintance who stands atop a wall as they pass. Quickly, it turns nasty. There are girls in the group, and the lads aren’t willing to back down lest they come off as weak.
“You can’t call me gay if your brother’s bisexual!” cries the tubby lad on the wall. One of the girls yells back at him, as the friends march on, cackling the sycophantic laughter of the victorious.
“Difference is, he admits it, you fucking queer!”
* Overheard conversation snippets. Bikini girl to her friend.
“That’s where I was stood when I got off with that black boy.”
* It’s the most pleasing sight of the day. An elderly lady in a Superman shirt.
* Overheard conversation snippets. Lad to another lad.
“He pissed himself in fuckin… sleeping bag — turned it inside out, got back in it.”
* A five-year-old boy lifts up a woman’s skirt and pokes his head under the fabric.
“I saw your knickers!” he sings, laughing.
* An unbelievably hot woman walks by. A-List hot. Tanned, bikini-ed, body like a classical sculpture — just fucking immaculate. Generally, I take pride in how repressed I am, and how deep I’ve buried that builder’s urge to howl like a cartoon wolf at the sight of a legitimate 10. They get it a million times a day, every day, and they’ve had a lifetime of men acting the dog, sniffing around like wretches, like cockroaches, holding open doors and trying out their very best, overly rehearsed patter with smiles that don’t reach the eyes. The 10’s have got a warped view of the world. Everyone’s so nice, all the time, yet nobody’s nice — nobody’s real. They all just want to fuck you, to be near you; to butt rival’s heads with tumescent antlers and mark their territory right inside you. A 10 doesn’t know what it’s like to walk into a room and not have a single head turn, so just leave them be and look at the floor instead.
But here, the blood stops cold in my veins when she sweeps by. Forget looking at the floor, it’s all I can do to keep from popping out my eyes and crushing them underfoot, having now seen all there is in the world that’s worth seeing. A man sitting a few yards from me sighs as she passes, turning his head away. It’s not a sigh of appreciation, or even yearning; it’s the sigh of the resigned. His day is ruined. It was a cruel reminder of what he is, and what he’s not. Of what he’ll never have. But still those 10s walk our world, for all to see; the King’s treasures on show for the paupers. He pushes himself to his feet and walks away, with a broken rage resonating in each footstep. In spirit, I’m right behind him, and I find myself wondering if that ever goes away. All the old men in beaches and parks, do such sights still leave them cowed like abused puppies, or are those thoughts the folly of youth, played off with a smile and a wistful “Ah, to be young again.” I hope it goes away. There’s already more than enough reason to be fearful of old age.
* A child tugs at his mother’s arm.
“Mummy, did you see the man with two willies?”
The complete collection (plus appendices) of 2011’s Beach Diaries are available to buy for the Amazon Kindle for £1.99/$2.99. If you don’t have a Kindle, Amazon have a free Kindle app for PC/Mac/phones/tablets, available right here.