We had a promise made

I like the beach best, I realize, when it is cold and desolate, devoid of the mingled smells of sunscreen, sweat, and salt. Most people never see it in that empty state, but during this high holiday of the sun-worshipers I feel supremely out of place. For one thing, I’m pale enough that I practically glow in the dark.

I’m here to spend time with friends, the two Peace Corps volunteers I was closest to, who are on this coast for a wedding. Left to my own devices for a day and a half while they attend the festivities, I walk down the beach and through town like a pale ghost. Brown bodies are strewn across the beach. Children flirt, laughing, with the waves. Being neither juvenile nor geriatric, I don’t quite fit in.

The demographics are different up at Dewey Beach where Jess and Bret are staying. That town is full of young members of the sun-worshiping cult, brashly bronzed and wearing as little clothing as possible. Bret and I have lunch next to a table of young men having a conversation that reminds us that the people Cosmo and Sex and the City are aimed at aren’t a figment of some advertiser’s imagination. We eavesdrop shamelessly on their boastful conversation of conquests and aspirations. Both of us are grateful, we conclude, that we are usually able to forget that such people exist.

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