Underwear or bikini, no one can tell

me at the beach
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

I’m afraid it was obviously my underwear. At the beach in California when you packed for fog and it ends up 90 degrees, you just take off your pants. The beach could barely hold us as we ran around digging, building, climbing, splashing. Moomin started right in on an excellent fortress at the edge of the waterline, daring and businesslike, not at all like his reaction to the beach at the beginning of the summer. Sophie got into the moat to give herself a mud bath.

Just so you know what “packing for fog” means: two windbreakers, long underwear, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, flannel shirt, hats, hoodie, arm warmers, and extra socks.

Despite the warm harbor water and the pounding sun there’s a process of hotting up to go through. I go in up to my ankles, splash water onto my face, then go lie down for a while. Then up to knees and out to heat up and think about the water some more. Repeat… until critical hotness is reached. So finallyl when I was geared up to get all the way into the water, sweating, grubby, and desperate: I stepped on a fish. Stepping on a fish was everything I’d ever imagined it to be in years of beach-going and a head full of paranoia. It wriggled, it writhed, it was horrible and slippery, strong and alive, and I was terrified, screaming, hightailing it for solid ground, all within a tenth of a second.

I hope that a merciful veil of forgetfulness erases this incident from Moomin’s memory, or he’ll never ever go swimming in the ocean.

At some point Sophie found an enormous purple starfish washing up slowly onto the beach. Jo and Sophie were dubious, but I picked it up & was unable to contain my overenthusiasm as I ran around the beach in my grubby, sandy underwear like a scary little troll, demanding that everyone admire and pet the starfish. Then we climbed out onto the rocks and found it a home. “It’s a good thing everyone on the internet has already seen your underwear,” Jo commented helpfully.

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