The components of this picture are the same every day.
The sand. The sun. The ocean. The gulls. The men. Their significant swimsuits. The staked claims of their umbrellas and towels. Their sunglasses and innumerable small containers for music, messages, drink and lotion. Their little worries.
Nearby, the newfangled lifeguard shrine with its elusive Apollo crouches on spokes like a non-invasive lunar landing craft as collapsible as a beach chair. Its oracle gazes at the mortals but speaks not. Every year, his face is new, and every year, the false rumor is spread that he has taken flesh at one of the bars where these men repair at night.
There is ritual to be observed. The sudden standing up of one man adjusting his suit before his scrutinized walk to the water. The arrival of a gym-built Miami-Cuban with its murmured and appreciative judgments. Various grand promenades announced and executed in pairs for the reviewing of the peripheral attendees. The magnetic drifting in the water of two men floating closer and closer to each other. One blames the undertow with a sly smile. (On-shore bets are placed on his success.) The sudden leap of collective heart as a flawless and glistening specimen who seems to have run here all the way from Sydney jogs by without a glance at the crowd.
A small plane swoops low in passing. It trails a banner that reads “Men, get back in the game with Nutri-System.” The heads of all the men are silent and tilted upward and turning slowly to receive this message. In unison, they suck in their guts for five seconds before the anxiety passes and happy distention returns.
Such is the unbearable weight of life here in Braindeadlia.