“Man down! Man down!”
My idyllic day at the beach was interrupted by a crew of red swim-suited emergency responders, a backboard held high over their heads, kicking up sand and seagulls, as they raced to the aid of a tourist in distress.
Pushing my crumbled hemp sun hat back on my head, I squinted against the afternoon sun. The chaos was a couple of chaises down from my spot, and a gathering throng had surrounded the rescue team as they administered aid.
A contingency of displaced gulls hovered over the scene, hoping for scraps dropped by the rubberneckers, perhaps some stale Cheetos or cold french fries. Jeering and whistling, they caw their displeasure at their scavenging being hampered.
I twisted my umbrella canopy to block out the shifted light, while flipping open my cooler with my free hand to grab a cold soda. A quick rummage in my beach tote produced an open bag of chips.
This looked like it could take a while, so I sat back, getting comfortable to enjoy the show.
The appearance of the special sunburn crews, dispatched to remove the most egregiously overexposed, had become commonplace of late, but still offered some “bless their heart” entertainment.
A gap opened in the circle of gawkers, and a woman pushed through, both hands full of beach chairs and bags, a folded umbrella under one arm, a gaudy towel draped over her head. Close behind her was the rescue team, carrying out a decidedly red, male tourist.
Calling out for everyone to, “make room!” the team double-timed it across the sand up towards the picnic pavilions.
Let down by the anticlimactic end to the event, I settled my soda can in the sand, and rummaged through my tote again. Finding my sunscreen, I lathered on a fresh layer, hedging bets against the rescue crew coming back for me.
Every season it seems at least once a week I read about some tourist thinking to get a good ‘base coat” for the weekend, overestimates their tolerance for our tropical sun. Instead of a golden tan, they go home a blistering, crimson, crispy critter.
That overdone look, a beet-red face with white, sunglass-outlined eyes, always makes me think of a beached clown. The abandoned camouflage Crocs only add to the circus atmosphere.