Life is a Beach

Image by Sarah Scott

 

The Northern prairies do not have a lengthy bikini season. Rachel and Arlene starved themselves for three months in the spring in anticipation for the appearance of the hot summer sun warming their skin at the beach wearing a scandalously skimpy bathing suit. The only lake in their vicinity wasn’t a pretty beach by any standard at all, but it was clear blue water and sand. And guys.

“Just like the song, huh Rach?” Arlene smirked at her friend as Rachel tied a yellow polka-dot top around her neck. “My God, you are buxom! I am so jealous. You look kinda like Connie Francis—you know that?”

“I know. My dad tells me that all the time. I’d rather look like Liz Taylor, to be honest. Men swoon for her. How do I look?” Rachel posed, one long shapely leg bent slightly, ample bosom displayed gloriously.

She piled her long brunette hair on top her head and pursed her lips like she’d seen all the movie stars do when they pose for the camera.

“You look fabulous, darling,” Arlene complimented her.

Arlene was the bookworm. The blonde bespectacled heart of gold kind of girl. She loved her friend and longed to have her kind of beauty, but was content to be her lady in waiting which is what her parents teased her about.

“You’ll come into your own, Arlene. You have a quiet beauty that doesn’t jump right out at you like Rachel does. You watch, she is like that stunning rose in your mom’s garden, that wilts and fades as soon as it’s picked.”

“And what kind of flower am I, daddy?” she turned from the sink, dishtowel in her hand.

He looked up from his newspaper and studied her a moment.

“An African Violet, I would say. They are a sensible flower needing little attention, but the flowers are sturdy and last a long, long time.”

Arlene closed the door to the dressing room and ripped the tags off her navy blue two-piece. It was modest compared to her friend’s but she still felt naked once she had all the straps in place. She held her clothing in front of her as she exited the change room.

“Let me see, Ar. Put your clothes down and let me see. Oh, you look lovely. Without your glasses you look just like Sandra Dee.”

“She’s a bottle blonde, Rach. And I doubt she’s ever read a book.”

“Girls don’t need IQ Ar. They need curves and a smile that turns a guy upside down. I’m going to college to get my ML just like most girls.”

“ML? Oh, jeez Rach. Marriage license? I’m going for my MD and if I meet someone then fine.”

“Let’s go.”

The young women walked along the hot sand, looking for an ideal place to spread their blanket. They decided on next to the lifeguard’s post. Rachel nudged her friend and gestured to the good looking man on duty. She winked and adjusted her bathing suit top.

“Do me,” Rachel pushed Coppertone suntanning lotion into her friends hand.

She lay on her stomach and reached behind to undo her top exposing her bare back.

“You’re so bold Rach,” Arlene tsked and dripped the white lotion on her back and rubbed it into her olive skin.

“Is he watching?” she whispered. “The lifeguard?”

“Nope.”

The two lay side by side, eyes closed behind the over-sized movie star style sunglasses. Someone a few blankets down had a transistor radio and the sound of Elvis filled the air. It would be the last summer that they would do this, but of course had no way of knowing that. Grade 12 loomed ahead of them and beyond that was as mysterious as space.

Rachel would get pregnant before graduation and have to drop out of school. Girls in trouble were better out of sight and out of school administrator’s minds. Besides they were a terrible example to the other young women.

Arlene would go on to University where she studied to get the high grades that she did and during her last year met a fellow med student. They married and she lived a predictable life.

Rachel propped herself up on her elbows and pulled her glasses onto her head, making her look very pretty and sophisticated.

“Hey Ar, look at him!” she nodded her head towards the shoreline.

Arlene raised her head to see a good looking young man heading towards them from the shore. He carried a duffel bag and as he stepped closer to them the girls began to giggle and nervously adjusted their suits. They sat and stared incredulously as he walked right up to their blanket.

Rachel, as always when a man entered into their radar screen, posed by pushing her right shoulder forward turning her head with her chin resting on it and batted her eyes like she’d seen Lana Turner do.

“Hey, girls.”

Giggling.

“Gorgeous day!” Rachel gushed.

“Yep. Hey, would ya mind looking after this for me?” he plopped the heavy looking duffel bag on the sand next to their blanket.

Rachel’s mouth dropped open. Arlene nodded her head at the man who was smiling broadly like a bearer of a secret joke. The joke was on them, Arlene surmised and recognized that they were being toyed with. Rachel sighed deeply watching him disappear into the crowd by the water.

“Never mind him, Rach. You look fabulous. He’s just a jerk into himself.” Arlene tried to soothe her friend’s fragile feelings. She touched Rachel’s shoulder to comfort her.

To be continued.

 

OK, I’ll continue it now.

The two girls spent the rest of the day drinking coke, talking about boys, and speculating about sex.

“Are you going to wait till you’re married, Rach?”

“That would be a little hard to do, I’m afraid.”

“You didn’t!”

Rachel smiled slyly.

“We’re not children anymore, Ar.”

“You did it and didn’t tell me? I thought we told each other everything! How could you keep this a secret? Who is the guy?”

“Remember the dance we went to in the city last month? The one I danced with at the end? Well, he and I hooked up a week later. It didn’t work out though,” Rachel sighed and rolled over onto her stomach.

“Oh my God!. How could I not have known? You keep things so private, Rachel. I’m your friend and you can trust me.”

“Didn’t want to talk to anyone, Arlene. It’s over.”

“And…?”

“And…it’s really not all it’s cracked up to be, believe me.”

“Aren’t you scared you’re pregnant?”

“We only did it once, Arlene. No big deal. Can’t get pregnant only doing it one time. Besides, like he said, I was a virgin and it can’t happen.”

“Really? Are you sure about that? Wow, Rachel, this is huge! So tell me every little detail!”

Rachel’s cool demeanor washed off her like the waves on the beach and she was once more the giggling schoolgirl that her friend knew her to be. In a way only she could, her clumsy first sexual experience in the back seat of a Chevy became a passionate love tangle in a romantic hideaway out at Lover’s Peak. Rachel and Arlene had recently watched Splendor in the Grass with Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty and the love scenes in that film had nothing over Rachel’s tangle in the ’62 Chevy.

“So he really looked like James Dean, Rach? Oh, I can’t blame you! Who could say no to that? I thought you said it wasn’t a big deal?”

“I lied. It was heaven in his arms. I didn’t want it to end. But, it wasn’t meant to be. He’s joined the Army and he left town a few days ago. Maybe we’ll write. Maybe I’ll be an Army bride and travel all over the world with him. You can come and visit.”

Suddenly, Arlene felt she was laying next to a stranger. The fact alone that her friend ‘did it’ was stunning news, but the hiding of such an important event in life made her realize they were not as close as she thought they were. Arlene felt her girlhood slipping away and the unknown future of men, sex and grownup challenges loomed ahead making her suddenly long to be home laying on her bed with the door shut. She felt safe there. Arlene turned her head to see her friend’s silhouette. She looked the same as she always did, but she was not the same and it saddened her.

“Hey, Rach”

“Hmmm?”

“Remember when we were in Grade 7 and all the girls were playing kissing games with each other?”

“Yeah, what about it?”

“Well, remember you and I were in the dressing room here at the beach that summer on my birthday and me and you practiced kissing?”

“We were such kids, Arlene. All girls do that.”

“I know, I know. Just that I think whenever I smell that beach air and peppermint, I’m going to think of me and you and being girls.”

“Peppermint?”

“Yeah. You always sucked on those peppermints and that’s what your lips tasted like.”

“You’re really goofy, Arlene.”

“I’m going to miss you. I’m going to miss us.”

“I’m not going anywhere, Arlene.”

But, Arlene knew she was. They both were.

 

Life Is A Beach © 2011 Adrienne S Moody. Read the latest Adrienne exploit on Now.readthisplease.

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