CARMEN`S PRAYERS

Nick is in an icy desert—in a box made of ice! He’ll need one hundred years, no less, to get warmed up. His teeth chatter. He is over-chilled and dehydrated.

But after five minutes Nick suddenly smiled, jumped up from the beach blanket, and ran to play with his friends.

 

Chapter 6

 

Sea Gate Beach is a display of swimsuits, straw hats, beach wraps, sunglasses, pedicures, and manicures. It’s a theater of gestures: self-examination of one’s tan on outstretched arms, a check of the thighs with respect to their elasticity, a stroking of the belly and a palpation of the muscles beneath a thin layer of fat, a massaging the shoulders in hopes of attracting the attention of the several tanned young lifeguards in their towers. There are practically no other men weekday mornings on the beach. Husbands and boyfriends work.

Sea Gate Beach is a woman’s realm, a harem on the ocean shore. Women are chatty friends, well-wishing companions, and friendly neighbors—and at the same time they are fierce competitors fighting a bloodless war that will never have winners, but only a constantly growing number of dead and wounded.

Only seagulls circle the shore, dropping shrill cries that seem to say: “You’re number wuh-wuh-one! You’re a b-b-beauty!  You’re simply f-f-fascinating!”

***

“I can only imagine how many swimsuits these ladies have! Lots of them probably have a special closet just for bathing suits,” said Roy, watching one beachgoer saunter back and forth along the shore for a solid hour. “They probably don’t have much in terms of a winter wardrobe: a couple of warm jackets or a sheepskin coat, maybe. I`m sure it’s very windy and cold here in the winter—it’s still on the ocean. In the winter, they all sit at home around their electric fireplaces and radiators, keeping warm. Who sees you? Who needs you? But in summer, you’re on stage; it’s time for the show.”

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