The Sugar and The Salt

“Hey Sweetie!” she ran across the weathered parking lot, beaming beneath her thick black sunglasses. “How have you been? I feel like I haven’t seen you in forever!” she landed a fat kiss on the side of the girl’s face.

“How have you been Dianne?” the girl responded, almost equally as excited to see the older woman who had the complexion of her 60-something age, but the mobility and light of a 30-something.

“So good! You have to tell me about your new job. I haven’t seen you in so long.”

“Oh it’s great! I love it. It’s a little hectic, but I like the people I work with a lot. How have you been?”

“Oh great, honey!” she responded in her strained voice of a woman who has said some shit in her life. She was a mother of three and a grandmother of four after all. “I’ve been knitting up a storm for my new granddaughter that’s due in November. All sorts of mermaid quilts and onesies with all different sorts of hair colors since I don’t know what she’ll look like. I’ve been having a blast.”

“That’s awesome! I had no idea you were a quilter,” the young blonde girl responded. The two looked like they could be related from afar, both tribeswomen sun-bleached and salt-water-faded to a similar extent. Their facial structures being completely different was impossible to note amidst bright blond hair, robust tans and sparkling blue eyes. Dianne was the type of woman who lucked into a rich husband and never had to loosen her grasp on the dream.

“Honey, I’ve been working on one quilt for thirty years. I was really into peaches at the time so it’s a bed spread covered in stuffed peaches and trees against a baby blue and pink backdrop, then the two shams have half a rainbow each so they connect to make a full one when you put them together. It’s adorable! I’ve been working on that thing for thirty years! Can you believe it!?”

“That’s crazy!” the young girl was genuinely amused that her quirky parking lot acquaintance spent her inside-time stitching away, but completely glazed over at the details. Peaches and bed spreads were less important than the electricity that came off Dianne when she spoke about them.

“Have you gone out yet?” the girl asked, trying to change the subject to something she could relate to.

“Oh my gosh, it was an absolute zoo this morning,” Dianne responding, dropping her tone and cheeks, as if she was preparing to say some secrets. “I let some girl absolutely have it this morning. I’ve kept my mouth shut all summer long, but I unleashed on this girl this morning.”

“That’s so rad!” the young girl lit up. There was always something about laying down the unwritten but universally understood law that excited her and made the whole the thing more real.

“Yeah! She goes ‘I just wanted to go in,’ and I go ‘in front of a fucking car!? I’m barreling down the line, what the fuck do you think you’re doing?! You have to go in and you have to stay in, you’re dangerous!’”

“That’s so rad!” the young girl repeated with a chuckle.

“I just kept yelling at her until she went in, I was so mad.”

“They gotta learn somehow. I got yelled at when I was just learning,” the girl shrugged with raised brows.

“We all did! That’s part of it!”

“God damned tourists on their Wave Storms.”

“I can’t wait for the summer to be over and for all these fucking kooks, foreigners and tourists to get out of our state and stop drinking our water!”

“I know! Labor Day is the official Beach Reclamation Day in my book,” the girl continued.

“And then we can finally get rid of this no-good tower they bring in here every summer. And for what! The guy that works in there just spends all day on his cell phone. I watched a guy almost drown out here one day and the guy never ever got out of his tower, just watched everyone pull him in. And ya know what he says when they asked him why he didn’t do anything? ‘It looked like they had it handled’ he says! Good. For. Nothing!”

“Holy cow, I’d never heard that story. Well have you seen the girl that works in that tower sometimes?”

“Oh, have I?!”

“In her little tiny non-county-issued red Brazilian bikini?”

“Oh, I’ve seen her.”

“Gosh, one day I saw her get on the paddle board to tell some swimmer 20 feet off shore that they couldn’t swim here and it was so obvious she had not spent a lot of time on a board, sticking her butt way up in the air when she paddled.”

“Oh don’t you hate that! It’s like, I don’t want to see your asshole, lady.”

“You know what I call them? The girls that wear little bikinis and don’t know what the hell they’re doing? ‘Hoochie kooks,’” the girl said with a look of amusement, proud of the fitting title she had created. Dianne instantly startling guffawing.

“Oh that’s great!” she said from between her large white teeth.

Their conversation broke for a moment as they stared out to the horizon, both grinning, observing. They both waved at Chuck as he walked up.

“How was it?” Dianne asked.

“Ho-lee shit,” Chuck drew out. “I almost got my head taken off by one of those kite boarders! They’re crazing, whizzing through the line up like that! Like there’s not enough people out there already.”

“Oh I know it!” Dianne agreed.

“As soon as one person dies because of them, they’ll finally outlaw it. It always takes a tragedy for something to happen,” the girl added.

“Right!” Dianne chimes in. “But like there hasn’t been enough injuries out here because of them and the SUPers!”

The three of them shook their heads and stared out at the mayhem. Nearby a small child was filling a bucket with sand and marveling at the stiff strands of beached kelp that had gotten caught up on his shovel.


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