Gulf Shores (Orange Beach), Alabama

Interesting Scenes Seen or Eavesdropped

Addy coined this family on the beach next to us- The Ricky Bobby Family (if you don’t know the reference, go watch Talladega Nights)

*parents plead with tots to keep the sand out of their plastic baby pool that the parents had filled with water for the two tots to play in

*parents beg youngest toddler to not get into her big brothers inflated raft boat. Cute toddler does it anyways and she is proud of her accomplishments of climbing over the fat bloated sides. parents give in and cheer for her.

*without a warning to kids, parents start madly cleaning up beach scene. As mom cleans- her expensive right breast tumbles out of her white suit. Her husband points it out. She stuffs it in. Two minutes later it falls out again. No one notices this time.

*parents beg toddlers to put their flip flops on to no avail.

*mom twirls from underneath the umbrella with her boobs holding onto their low V white suit with all their might. She adjusts her cover up like a scene in Dynasty. Floor length or sand length, it is fully mesh- not tiny holes like an athletic jersey but closer to fishnet, and it is fluorescent tie dye. Picture neon orange, with swirls of eau de crosswalk vest. It was fabulous. (In Alabama, it is legal to mix metaphors for fun.)

*their tween returns just in time to drag away his inflated boat with paddles. He is not pleased that he has to carry his own stuff. His dad insists he be careful to not spray sand on fellow vacationers. His dad yells for him to hold the boat off the ground. His dad yells that he should walk through the large open space. Tween stomps through the lounge chairs dragging his boat behind him. Parents put their heads down.

The Birthday Party

*six or so women with gorgeous dark skin float over to the last cabana. I comment on one’s tiara. She is the birthday girl.

*The cabana seats two. The rest plop on the sand without pretense. They promote beautiful full bodies.

*Mim is worried that one of them is showing their boobs. I explain that when boobs are that big, it is so hard to contain them in a suit. I explain how it is usually acceptable to show cleavage but not actual nipples. She liked this piece of knowledge.

*I didn’t see any cans in their hands. I think their high was natural and fed by their music and friendship. The black swim suits with leopard trim. Arms flailing in large motions to support the conversation. Heads falling backward in laughter. Full chocolate legs kicked up and stickered with white sugar sand. Teeny tiny braids of every color flying back and forth.

*Line dancing. To the left, to the left… Michigan sunscreened faces and Indiana baseball hats were invited to join. No was not accepted. Fun was had by all including the vacationers carefully peeping out from their umbrellas praying that they would not be invited. They brought the party.

*One of these lively women ventured down to the water’s edge. There is a bit of a lip of sand that crumbles in a flash with any weight on it. She slid down the small avalanche at the perfect time and a wave captured her lower half. Splat in the quicksand of rushing water and sinking sand. She wasn’t quiet about her demise. Two men came to her rescue but they were ill equipped to physically lift her from her plight. They managed to hold her arms above her head while her body was sucked by the undertow. She was stuck this way for a while. Arms restrained upward, feet unavailable, legs not under her control, and wet braids covering her face. She survived with her pride. She was unbreakable.

Wonder Mom

*a teenage girl respectfully asked her brother to hop out of the pool. Most of the time, this request would be unheeded by even the most well behaved kids. I saw the boy avoid his sister’s gaze. She reached out her hands and he put his hands in hers. He waited at the edge of the pool for her to wrap a towel around him. He was about eight. I couldn’t tell if his brother was his twin or just close in age. He had the same gaze avoidance and silence. The mom appeared from her lounge chair promising lunch. The teenage girl complained to the mom about the spray on sunscreen and whether or not she applied it. The mom bent into her son’s face and smiled and kissed him. She held his crocs with her flip flopped feet. He had put his crocs on the wrong feet and she assisted him with her feet all while allowing her daughter to claim her lies, making it clear with out a word that she was not believed.

*the brothers waited silently. The daughter’s protest subsided. the mother and the sister gathered the massive bags and each held a boy’s hand. They traveled together appearing effortless- but we all know leaving the pool with two kids with autism and a teenage girl could be more death defying than Mount Everest without a sherpa.

Man #1

*the couple sat in the front seat of their large pick up truck. I watched them at a light through my rear view mirror. She was smiling and chatting and looking at him with vacation eyes. Bright blue eyes, squinting in the sun, laugh lines from years of this same conversation in the passenger seat while her husband drove. He wore the sunglasses that screen his eyes and his soul. The black plastic wraps around his face and the convex lenses reflect silver and sunlight with a greenish hue. She grinned at her own joke and waited for him to return her happiness. She paused, searching his face for even a twitch of recognition. She turned her body and her gaze forward- his love overdue.

Man #2

*Bahama Bob’s five star Fried Shrimp and heavy handed Bushwackers.

*cheap plastic beeper promising fulfillment in 90 minutes.

*we, as in a communal we, waited on wooden benches and picnic tables hopeful and hungry.

*Mim was getting her pattings. Mum and I people watched and chatted. The cute red headed family behind us gave horsey rides to their little boys on their knees.

*Mim complemented the red headed family and told them their baby girl was so cute. The baby boy had on a JohnJohn with tiny cars on it. The toddler boy had on matching shorts and a green polo. Dad and mom matched, too. Mom wore a red dress and he wore a red polo. Grandma was the only one with a mask. The toddler scared us with his dinosaurs roaring. We entertained him with our faked fear.

*Dad started talking about the only time he waited this long for a table was in Chicago for deep dished pizza at Giordano’s. He was surprised his mother in law had never heard of the famous pizzeria.

*Baby is fussing. Grandma jostles the baby and sings him nursery songs. Toddler is put in time out for unknown offenses by a disgruntled father.

*Dad is in deep pout mode. Grandma distracts both children. Mom handles dad with a side mouthed whisper.

*Minutes pass. Dad continues his pout. His body faces away from family. Grandma distracts boys and Mom balances between her mom and boys and sullen husband. “Justin Party of four” is yelled out into the parking lot. One family cheers and walks with accomplishment to the host stand. The rest of us sigh. Red head dad groans.

*Baby wants to go to sleep. It is inching toward 8:00. Grandma rocks baby. Toddler distracts himself with sand and dinosaurs under the picnic table. I kick away a cigarette butt. Redhead mom continues to handle red head dad who she is unfortunately married to. Mum and I sigh in relief that we are not handling a man while we wait for our shrimp or scallops. We escaped that familial landmine. Mim is easier than this red headed baby man. I’m so lucky.

*their table is called… our table is called. I see red headed family. Mom and grandma sit and entertain the children. Red headed dad has arms folded. Happiness will not be his during this five star vacation dinner.

Man #3

*Man arrives to lay on rentable beach chairs after hours. Royal blue cushions have been removed. Umbrellas stored. Sunset is behind gray clouds and high-rises. I am perched on an identical wooden frame of lounge chairs debating if I would be reinforcing Mim’s whining from the balcony by returning to the room or if I should ignore her pleads. Mum is with her and I want to watch the waves.

*He gets on the phone. The phone rests on his chest. His hands are cushioning his head. His ankles crossed. “I know– I usually only call you at 9:00 so I can fall asleep while talking to you.”

* “We stayed at a Microtel last night. My daughter thought she was going to be raped. Long story short, I heard those Mexicans talking trash and I understand 90% of what they were saying.”

*”Yeah, we went to The Hang Out last night. Long story short, I should have gotten a Uber. Long story short, she didn’t say anything but her friends were there and she looked at me like, long story short, shit.”

*I couldn’t hear the woman’s end of the conversation but I knew she was a woman and I knew she reassured him he wasn’t shit. I want to tell him his daughter won’t forget last night.

Man #4

A burgundy Suburban followed me for miles and miles on the drive home. Our cars became friends. The large maroon SUV followed at a safe distance reinforcing my speed while traveling behind. We were swimmers or runners handling the wind together. I happily blazed our trail around the tractor trailers. And she graciously and respectfully followed. I assume the driver liked my bumper stickers and speed which is elevated but not eye catching to police. She and I followed each other like this for over an hour.

We ran into traffic and I got stopped behind a big truck. She shifted easily into the next lane and waved me over. I gunned the Ford to move around the truck ahead of her, careful not to slow her down. I smiled and waved back– Mim wondered who I was waving to and I explained that I didn’t know her.

My Suburban friend moved over two lanes to get off I85 around Noonan. I watched my friend exit. The driver was a man. Hmph. A man. A nice man.

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