67: A Day at the Beach

67: A Day at the Beach

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls

A Day at the Beach

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I had always heard people say it was very hard for three people to be close friends — you know, the odd number problem. Two people can be close and so can four but three people… not so much. Obviously my two friends and I forgot to read the memo. We met in a class in high school and clicked from that very first day. We shared clothes, make-up, shoes, and most importantly, we shared our lives, hopes, and secrets. We were close.

We graduated, went to college, married, had kids, and stayed close as ever. Then two of us moved from Los Angeles to a beach town on the central coast of California, leaving our other friend behind. You have to make an effort to stay close when you don’t live in the same city but we three made a pact before we moved that we would get together at least once a month. And we did just that. We would alternate — one time we would go to Los Angeles for the day and the next time our friend would come and spend the day with us. That worked.

The years flew by and now we three best girl friends had children in high school and college and it was even easier for us to get together. No young children at home to worry about. We still shared everything and we were looking forward to our friend coming to our central coast town one warm August day to spend some time at the beach with us. Rather than fix a picnic lunch we splurged and order lunches from a gourmet deli here in town. And we even decided to include a bottle of our favorite wine.

The day was perfect. Warm but not too hot, with a soft breeze blowing. We three spread out our blankets on the sand and got ready to eat. Eating has always been very important to us and we have shared some of our deepest secrets over meals. The lunch was delicious — why is it that things that you don’t have to prepare yourself always taste better? And we enjoyed some of the wine too!

We had been sitting, eating, sipping, talking, sharing, and laughing for a few hours when we decided that, before we had our dessert, it would be really nice to stretch our legs and take a walk down the beach. This was the perfect beach to walk along as it was about a mile long and it had a nice wide sandy path to follow. When it got too warm we could just walk along in the water to cool off. Could things get any better?

Since it was a weekday, there were some people on the beach but it wasn’t crowded. We walked for a while and the beachgoers thinned out to practically nothing. But way, way down the beach we saw a big group of people. They were far enough away from us that they looked like tiny ants. We thought we could walk to them, then turn around and walk back and have dessert. That would be enough exercise for us.

How could three friends talk as much as we did? How did we find so many things to talk about? We never seemed to run out of things to say. We were walking and talking and getting closer to that big group down the beach. We could tell now that some of them were playing in the water, some were playing beach volleyball, some were walking around, and some were relaxing on the sand. We were so engrossed in our conversation that we practically walked right through the volleyball court before we stopped short. And stop short we did.

Something was wrong with this picture. OMG! These people didn’t have any clothes on. Nothing. They were naked! We were in the middle of a nude beach! Okay, a few of them had hats on and one guy had on a pair of high-top tennis shoes but… that was it.

“Hello girls. Want to join in our volleyball game?”

Are you kidding me? We didn’t know what to do. How to react. What to say. And excuse me but… where do you look? The three of us just stood there with our mouths open and our eyes popping out of our heads. We probably stood there for no longer than five seconds taking it all in but it felt like we stood there for hours. And then, at exactly the same time, we all reacted in a way that three adult women should when they find themselves among a group of naked people. We turned and ran like rabbits. No one said a word. We just ran. We hightailed it back down that beach so fast you would have thought we were running in a race — and we needed to win. After a few minutes I tripped and fell in the sand. That’s also when we started laughing. Actually we got hysterical. You know the kind of laughter I’m talking about. The I-can’t-catch-my-breath-because-I’m-laughing-too-hard kind. No wonder those people were way, way down the beach. Duh. They weren’t wearing anything!

We finally made our way back to our beach blankets and were so glad to be back among people… who had bathing suits on. And we laughed. We ate dessert and we laughed. We finished our bottle of wine and we laughed harder. How had all three of us been so naive as to not realize why those people were so far down the beach, away from the usual beachgoers? Why couldn’t we have walked in the other direction and looked at the seals and pelicans instead? Of course, if we had gone in the other direction, we would have missed out on a wonderful story to share with our families and friends. And we’re still laughing about it today.

~Barbara LoMonaco

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