Beach Bummer

When is a day at the beach a nightmare? Ask Nazma Muller

Beach bummer

A great day at the beach in Trinidad? Hmm. That would have to be Manzanilla, 11 years ago. Yep, that was my tourist-brochure-perfect Day At the Beach in the Caribbean. That day the beach was deserted so my friends and I didn’t need to look around furtively while we buried Jacynth in the sand and gave her a new shapely body with two melon-sized mammary glands (her life-long dream). I still have the 12 pictures we took with mischievous satisfaction.

The water was just rough enough to make it impossible for five hardback teenagers to fit into one rubber dinghy. When I got tired of getting toes in my mouth, I stalked out of the water (well, sort of skip-stomped off in a huff) to try my luck with a discarded tyre on the beach. Add some moist, spicy pelau and a tangy macaroni salad; a sapodilla tan that gave me four days of respite from teasing about my naturally-yellow hue; a dusky pink sunset; and I had the experience every urban dweller in the metropolis dreams about.

Since that day though, I’ve begun to suspect I am jinxed: it always rains when I go to the beach. The sun would be shining all the way — from my house, down the highway, even as we park. As soon as we settle under a coconut tree, however, huge grey clouds start cruising towards us. Sometimes my bad luck holds off for an hour — most times just 15 minutes — before we all get soaked.

My friends have put two and two together and now avoid making beach plans in my presence. Especially when they hear about the hurricane. It wasn’t really a hurricane, in my version of the story, more like a storm. OK, so I should have cancelled the trip when we woke up and my sister’s house was flooded. Even while she mopped and I moped, I still believed the sun would be shining at Maracas. If every time I left home with the sun shining and it rained when I got to the beach, didn’t it make sense that if I left Port of Spain in a storm there would be blazing sun at Maracas?

So while the wind raised the galvanised roof and lightning sent our Rottweiler whimpering under the house, I called my friends and cajoled (okay, badgered) them into sticking to our beach plans. When we got to the beach there were three people, all huddled under a shark-and-bake shop at the side of the road. The waves galloped towards the shore, crests 20 feet high. Not a lifeguard was in sight. To avoid being pelted with coconuts, I distracted my miserable cohorts with a frisbee. Feeling as foolish and cold as I, they shivered and sneezed along for an hour in the stinging rain, stoically ignoring the increasingly loud rumbles of thunder overhead.

Then two things happened. We got bored, and the bake and shark shop trio scurried across to the beach. One of them was a very cute fella. Well. I blame it on the effect lightning has on oestrogen. We three (okay, I) decided we (alright, I) had to get this dude’s attention. Blue from the freezing rain, I managed to suggest through clenched teeth, “Let’s bodysurf!”

Suzy and Tracy stared at me in disbelief. “What?! You’re out of your mind!”

“Are you crazy?!”

“C’mon. The waves aren’t that bad.”

They looked out at the choppy, grey-green water. The breakers didn’t look like tidal waves any more but they were still rising to a fearsome height. “We can just, you know,” I could feel my knees knocking out a frightened rhythm, “just kinda go out to just after the waves break, you know . . . ” They looked at each other. Then they looked at me, sniggered and plopped down on the wet sand. “We ain’t going nowhere near them there waves, chick.”

“Look,” I dropped to my knees and leaned towards them conspiratorially, “he’s really hot.” I tilted my head discreetly in the direction of the young stud. “And, he’s been looking over here at us. Let’s just horse around for two minutes and come back out.” They had noticed him too, of course. Suzy sucked in her stomach immediately. Tracy involuntarily scooped up some sand to trickle coyly, though all she got was a wet glob.

“Oh alright,” Suzy grumbled as she tugged the bottom of her swimsuit higher up her hips.

We strode bravely towards the sea, each trying to saunter as sensuously as possible into the bone-chilling water. About waist-deep out, we stopped abruptly. A major wave was heading towards us. Tracy was the first to scream: “Oh my Gawd!”

I landed face first on the shore.

I think I did five triple somersaults, four back flips and two scissors kicks. My knees had lost their skin on the seabed. I cleared my mouth of hair and looked around. Suzy lay spread-eagled a few feet away. Tracy was now coming in on her head.

Then I heard a sound. I peered through the hand covering my shamed face. His Cuteness had just dropped to the sand, his muscled body shaking with laughter.

My face fell into the sand with a plop! as I silently vowed, “Not me and the beach again.”