Beachcombing Redux

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Hi, Mike here. You may have read my story, “Beachcombing,” published a while back. ‘Hard to believe it’s been so long. After that wonderful episode, my life changed a good bit, and fast forward to now, I find myself a not-too-recent-anymore widower, retired and financially comfortable, needing to work harder and harder to stay in shape but doing it, and treasuring my good friendships and the ability to enjoy life, with all systems go.

Among those good friendships is that of Rick and Linda, Rick the pompano fisherman of that first beachcombing adventure, and Linda whom I met later. I live several hours away, but we still get together at least annually, just to play, and in addition, they are gracious to let me use their luxury (and isolated) beach house for a couple of weeks each summer, just for my head’s health. There’s nothing like the beach, unless it’s the mountains, to aid getting back in touch with one’s self, especially if left alone to do it.

And so, I found myself the summer before the recent “troubles” back at their place, just me, no company, with the larder stocked and nothing much to do except try to do as well as Rick does in surf fishing, get some sun on the long mostly deserted stretch of beach at their place, and enjoy the local village seafood when the hooks stay empty – which is most of the time. Fortunately, the village, about a 20 minute drive away down the 2-lane asphalt, has some great local restaurants and a particularly sketchy dive of a bar, where I’ve gotten to be a familiar, if sporadically so, face.

It was a Wednesday, I think, but that’s not for sure – hard to keep track of the days when you’re on your own with no work, no meetings – major aaahhh time. Anyway, that Wednesday, I made my way back to the village for supper in the late afternoon.

I decided to dine at Mac’s Place, where they do terrific broiled seafood (I’m not so much a fan of the fried, but it’s good there as well). The crowd spilling out the front door reminded me that the area is more and more a tourist spot in the summer, with the usual plethora of new condos popping up each year. I was thankful, yet again, that Rick and Linda’s place was so far away, and was grandfathered in to stay despite now being surrounded by a state park that would ensure no further construction – sweet deal. Making my way to find out how long a wait there’d be, I got to the hostess and greeted her, “Hi, Sandy,” how long for a table for one?

“Hi, Mr. Mike,” she said, smiling and reminding me how wondrously fresh and sexy young females are, “you’re in luck – all these people are in 4s and 6s, so I’ve got one ready right now.”

She led me across the room and I took a seat, facing back toward the front door. I do enjoy people watching, and summer tourists provide great views. Couples with bickering kids, foursomes who looked barely old enough to me to order on their own never mind drink (proven wrong on that more and more these days), bunches of guys obviously on the make with little luck, bunches of girls eyeing the guys – all pleasant ways to pass the time during solo dining. I got my beer, ordered my salad and fish, got a dozen oysters on the half shell to bridge waiting on the cooked food, and relaxed.

The line at the door was getting longer still and all the tables were filled, when I saw a lady making her way up to the hostess. She was not quite prim and proper, but she was well groomed and dressed, over-dressed compared to about everyone else in her actual conservative shirtwaist dress, low heels, makeup indiscernible if at all, hair not “done,” but short and well managed . . . and gray. She appeared to be a trim 60 or so, and being in that range by now myself, I took interest. She spoke to Sandy for a moment, and I could tell she was sorry to hear about whatever the wait had grown to by then. She nodded, gave her name, took one of those buzzer “your table’s ready” things, and headed back out onto the deck to wait in line until called.

I was raised to be a good scout, and here was my chance to get in my daily good turn, I thought. I got up, got Sandy’s “of course” answer to my question, and went outside. The lady in question was standing to the side, looking at her phone, when I interrupted, “Pardon me, but I noticed you’re waiting, and I’ve just been seated, solo, at a table for two. Would you care to dine with a stranger?”

She looked up at me, my 5’10” not exactly towering, but above her petite 5’4″ or so, and said, “No, thank you. I’ll just wait.”

“Your choice, but with this crowd, you may starve. I’m pretty harmless, it will be in public, I won’t even talk if you don’t want to, and we’ll do separate checks – I’m not trying to hustle you, I just have two chairs and only need one.”

She smiled a little at that, considered it, and said, “Well, if you’re sure I won’t be . . . “

I didn’t know just what she wouldn’t be, but I cut in and said, “Not at all, I’ll enjoy the company.”

And with that, we made it back to the table, me leading the way, as is illegal bahis a gentleman’s role in a crowd, of course.

Seated, I signaled and Josh, the waiter, came over with a fresh water, menu, and place setting for her. “Here you go, Mike,” he said.

“Thanks, Josh,” I answered, and introduced myself. “So, after that, obviously, I’m Mike – not exactly a local, but I do know the folks here, and you’ve made a good choice if you’re after seafood.”

“Hello then, I’m Margaret, far from being a local. This is my first time here at this beach, and thus my first here at this restaurant as well.”

The dinner went from there. Between Josh and the staff, they even managed to bring out our courses at the same time, despite my having ordered earlier. We didn’t tarry, not wanting to make the tourists wait any longer than they had to, but didn’t rush either. We chatted and enjoyed the food, swapping views of wallet photos of family and quick auto-bio stories while waiting for courses. I tipped well, in cash, as always, and we got up to leave, each having enjoyed an ample sufficiency.

During the dinner, I’d learned that she had arrived late the day before, spending the current day strolling on the beach looking for shells, watching the albatross formations, and seeing a couple of dolphins (an exciting chapter for her). She was a widow, a high school head librarian on holiday, advised by friends that she needed a break, a time for just herself for a change. Her plan was to stroll on the beach, read some totally forgettable pulp novels, soak in whatever local saltwater culture there might be, and get all refreshed for the next school year. She’d picked the beach almost off-hand, after some internet searching, looking for uncrowded and good sand, not the usual tourist attractions of sights to see, bars to haunt, and crowds to mingle with. She was also leaving the day after tomorrow, heading off to see her sister before returning home.

I mentioned that I had friends who let me stay at their beach house, but I didn’t say just where it was. I did say that I knew of the absolutely best stretch of beach anywhere, if strolling and collecting the occasional whole shell was the aim. After she’d said that sounded grand and I had explained where it was and that it was far away from the tourist crowds she’d be likely to encounter nearer by, I mentioned that, in an oh, by the way kind of way, that it was a naturist beach.

“Naturist?” she said, either not knowing the term or knowing it but not sure she’d heard me right – it can sound like ‘natural’ when it’s just dropped into a conversation with the unsuspecting ear.

“Well, naturist-optional, I suppose,” I said, and waited for her reaction.

“Oh! That must be interesting at times!” she chuckled, obviously knowing the term – she was a school marm, after all.

“Less than you might think,” I said. “It’s not a place for gawkers, just an out-of-the-way beach, way down the strand from the main part of the state park, where the rangers know and don’t bother, and there’s a discreet sign so that the easily offended don’t get easily offended. No one enforces any dress code worn or unworn, and it’s not uncommon to spend a sunny morning not seeing anyone at all.”

“The beach sounds grand,” she said, “but I’m not sure I’d be willing to let anyone see this old self all unadorned, and I think I’d feel like a voyeur if I were the only one dressed.”

“Have you ever gone to a nude beach or other venue?”

“No, never.”

“Well, then. First off, you’d be among the most attractive on the beach – personal opinion with limited but sufficient evidence to back it up, of course, but you’d rank there at any beach. That said, I’d advise you that if you’re going to be on holiday to get away from it all, then our special beach is exactly what you should sample. Just drive down the strand like I told you, look for that mile marker I told you about, pull off to the left on the hard-packed road for 50 feet, and you’ll see the paved parking lot. Park there, take some water along, since there isn’t any – there is a bath house at the parking lot, but it’s primitive and without baths – pit style with a faucet to rinse off sandy feet. From there, walk to the beach, turn right at the ‘Clothing Optional Beyond This Point’ sign, and you’re there. Who knows, you may see me or may not. You may not see anyone at all, and that will let you get used to the idea of dedicating your whole body to sun worshipping- it’s a very liberating sensation – not sensual nearly so much as sensuous.”

Our conversation continued as we ate. Sometime during all that, the check had come, we’d split it on her insistence and my token objection, and paid up. The line was still outside the front door, so we didn’t need to hold up business.

“You’re a good marketer for that beach, I’ll admit, but I’ll probably pass,” she said as we rose to leave. “It’s been a pleasure meeting and dining with you though, Mike. I’m pretty tired after a long day, and I think I’ll get back illegal bahis siteleri to my room. You take care.”

“And you, Margaret. Consider the beach, though!”

“I’ll do that.” And with that, she walked one way, I another, to our respective lodgings. That evening, I sat out on the beach house deck, naked of course, sipped on a bourbon, watched the stars do their amazing star thing, and then got an excellent night’s sleep.

—————

The next day, I got up at my usual early. Post biology and coffee, I strolled down to the beach and cast my line without a single strike for an hour or so, packed the gear back into the house, grabbed my usual light backpack of towel, shirt and shorts, water bottle, and e-book, and set off on a walk up the beach, toward civilization, clothed as usual only in sandals, sun hat, shades, and the backpack. I passed a couple of folks along the way, none any closer than a hundred yards from each other, some in the surf playing (we haven’t had a shark attack in years, and it wasn’t jellyfish season, so it was good for that), one or two just strolling in the other direction.

One couple, maybe in their 40s or so, was actually dressed in walking shorts and polo shirts, predictably un-tanned, obviously recipients of news that there was a nude beach and feeling adventurous out in it. I wondered if I’d encounter them on the way back unclothed, and hoped so, both for their sakes and for mine, since I’m never one to turn down a view of a nude female, of whatever construction. The guy nodded in greeting as we passed, and the woman stopped her staring at me from behind her sunglasses, and looked out to sea just as we passed. I heard her giggle behind me, and hoped they were having fun. The sun was warm but not blistering, a sea breeze not strong enough to be a bothersome wind cooled things as well. Albatross flights glided by in ground effect,

I was still a good way from the parking lot area when I saw Margaret ahead and off to my left, tucked almost but not quite back into the dunes. She was seated in a low lightweight beach chair next to her large beach towel, a book in her lap, her sunglasses and beach hat unable to disguise her from me, but no doubt affording a sense on anonymity in her opinion. And dressed – in a dark blue one-piece swimsuit. OK, willing to take in the sights, but not to participate – yet? Hmmm.

I debated whether to bother her or not, and figured I’d look strange passing by with no greeting. She didn’t appear to have seen me yet, but out of deference to her attire, I eased over next to the dunes, donned my shorts, and headed back toward her.

At a good twenty yards away, not wanting to intrude, I waved and yelled out just loud enough to be heard above the breeze and waves, “Margaret! Glad you could make it!” I figured if she didn’t respond at all, I’d just keep going and leave her to her own devices. If she waved back, I’d stand my ground, not approaching without further invitation.

She looked up, took a moment to register that the topless guy in shorts waving at her was me. She took another moment, then waved back and called out, “Hi Mike!”

“Enjoying the day?” I called back.

“Yes very much, thanks – you’re right, it’s a wonderful beach, and mostly deserted as you said!”

Ah, ‘mostly deserted,’ is that a subtle school administrator’s way of saying it would be even better if it was deserted by you, as in now, I wondered? I started to keep walking on up the beach, when she waved again, “And how’s your day?” And the ice was broken.

As I turned and approached her, she put down her book and said, “Do you have a minute? Take a seat and rest a moment.” As if I were tired? – did I look tired? Or was she just making small talk – more likely. I sat on her towel, basically at her feet, and enjoyed seeing her in her one-piece suit, although I’d have enjoyed her more with less. Her suit was a swimmer’s style maillot, and appeared to be unlined, as I could see the outlines of her nipples through the dark blue that made her appear even more pale. Pale, but with the well-advised sheen of sunscreen, the bottle nearby.

“Nice to see you here – I had hoped I hadn’t grossed you out last night,” I ventured.

“Oh no, hard to gross out someone who’s employed at a middle school, where gross equals irresistible hilarity for most of the kids,” she laughed.

“Well, good anyway. You have put on sunscreen, right? You’ll need it out here.”

“Yes, I slathered on a good bit before leaving the room, and just put on more. I know I must look like the ultimate tourist, but there it is – I’m on vacation and am not going to worry about my image out here.”

“Good for you,” I continued. “Although, I admit, you don’t seem to have bought totally into the ‘when in Rome’ thing, at least not yet.”

“No . . . at least, not yet,” she answered, knowing that I was commenting on her being dressed. “But neither do you.”

“Ah, full disclosure, I was, until I saw you – I donned the shorts a canlı bahis siteleri bit down the beach for your sake.”

“Well, I don’t know whether to thank you for that or not. After all, I am here to observe the local cultural flora . . . and fauna, too.”

As if cued, I heard before seeing “Beachcomber Bob” calling out behind me. “Mike! Hey, brah, good to see you!” I knew from past experience (see the first story in this series) that he was not to be dissuaded from greeting in his way, and I was chuckling inside to see how Margaret would handle things.

Bob was the self-appointed mayor of this stretch of beach, at least in his view, and had been since my first meeting him years before. He was the kind of teddy bear you can’t help but like because of his harmless innocence and over-the-top geniality. And, of course, he was naked as ever, shaved all over like Mr. Clean, his member hearty and flaccid, swaying as he walked toward us. If you were a regular, you were his best pal, and if you were a first timer, you were invited to be a regular. As was also his way, he immediately clutched me in a bear hug, but just for a second, our naked fronts having nowhere else to go, but without ulterior motives, I knew, and was glad I knew. I hugged back, then stood back as he turned to Margaret, who I suspected was busily processing just what this was all about.

“Hi,” he blared to Margaret. “I’m Beachcomber Bob! This is my beach, and I’m glad you’re here to enjoy it!” He was as genial as they come, and as flummoxing to the unaware as well. I watched Margaret to see her reaction.

“Nice to meet you, Bob,” she managed, her eyes behind the dark sunglasses. She appeared cool and unflustered – I was impressed. I did notice she didn’t reciprocate with her own name, and wondered if Bob would press the issue.

Bob continued, “I see you know Mike – he’s a great guy, and you take good care of him, ok? He knows almost as much about this beach as I do, but if he runs out of answers, you let me know, ok? Well, see ya – don’t get burned!” And with that, true to his M.O., he sauntered off down the beach.

“Well, you mentioned fauna, and there he was!” I laughed as Bob got out of earshot. “Bob’s a great guy, too – just not quite the average Joe.”

“I’ll take your word for that – nothing like having a naked guy introduce himself – this vacation is full of new things for me, that’s certain!” She laughed back, which iced my high opinion of her. I wasn’t about to ask what she thought of his equipment, since it outsized mine. That was way too far to take things at this stage. I did wonder, though.

“You know, it really is ok to join the local custom,” I said. “After all, we’re old friends – we’ve broken bread together, we’ve even observed the local fauna together, without any trouble – but, your call.”

“‘Old friends’ eh? As in old?”

“Only on my side of the towel, as I see it, but friends, I certainly hope.”

“Silver tongue. I’ve got some years on you, but it’s nice for you not to admit it.”

“I’m not going to insist on comparing drivers licenses to prove you wrong, but back to the issue at hand, care to join the locals?”

“Oh, I’m not ready for that, I’m sure! You go right ahead, though, if it makes you more comfortable.”

“And that itself wouldn’t make you uncomfortable?”

“I’m not sure about that, but I’m on holiday, so taking risks, I suppose.”

“How about if we compromise, and go for a swim, clothed as we are, to think about it? The waters here are very safe – no undertow anywhere near here on a day like today, the sharks don’t come around here, and from my fishing this morning, there aren’t anythings that bite anywhere around.”

“Mmm. Well . . . ok,” she said, hoisting up out of the low chair easily. I followed her to the shoreline, where she waded in without hesitation.

“I’m a pretty good swimmer, if you’re wondering,” she said as we got to water over our knees, and dived ahead, emerging on the far side of the line of small breakers and well short of the next line of them. I watched her trim hips disappear and followed suit, resurfacing near her, where we were both in fairly calm water, up to her chest and up to my ribcage.

“Here’s the second part of the compromise,” I said, quickly pulling off my trunks and showing them to her. “No pressure to follow, but I promise, being naked in the water is icing on a nice day’s cake!”

She gave me a ‘I know just what you’re up to, buster’ look, but then said, “Ah, since I am in Rome, I suppose . . . ” Smiling at me, she coyly pulled the bathing suit straps off her shoulders, then bent her knees, disappeared in the ocean water, and resurfaced a moment later, waving her suit as proof of her courage! Before I could get a good look, she held it, not exactly as a cover, but between my eyes and her body enough so that I couldn’t see much, beyond bare shoulders. Rats.

She saw me looking and laughed, “I can’t believe I just did that!”

“But doesn’t it feel great – all liberating and such?”

“Give me a minute here,” she said, and swam a couple of breast strokes up and back, clutching her suit in one hand, then stood in front of me, about 2 feet away. “OK, you win – it does! What’s with this? I don’t know, I just . . . “

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