Author’s note: This is the sixth installment of a multi-part series. For an optimal reader experience, read the introduction, Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V first. Subsequent installments will post daily.
I spent the morning on the beach entertaining myself by observing the fascinating job of the beach lifeguard.
Look, I’m sure it’s a tough occupation, one I would never wish to do myself. Last year, Virginia Beach lifeguards performed 840 saves between Memorial Day and Labor Day, which was up 95 percent from the previous year.
But things seemed to be pretty calm this day, because my dude spent four hours twirling his fucking whistle.
Whistle twirling, I discovered, was not as straightforward as it appeared to be, at least when left in the expert hands of this professional. In addition to the traditional wrap twirl, which shortens and lengthens the whistle’s lanyard around the twirler’s fingers, this lifeguard also executed the high speed propellor spin and the mind-blowing figure eight twirl.
All that twirling practice paid off, because at 11:30, Lifeguard Guy attracted not one, but two interested females. They were blonde teens I surmised must have been on vacation together, because they were sharing two bikinis; one wearing the top to the other’s matching bottom.
It was the type of beach scene you dreamed about as an adolescent: two scantily-clad coeds just coming up and flirting with you while you’re minding your own business. It was almost as cliche as the accidental love at first sight that’s precipitated by an errant Frisbee.
I couldn’t hear their conversation but was fascinated by the interaction. The lifeguard, all six packs and biceps, twirling away, the girls standing at the foot of his perch, giggling and incessantly smoothing their hair.
“Hey!” Melinda said, shaking me out of my Phoebe Cates-style delusion. “Are you listening to me?”
“I said do you see them?”
“What do you mean who?”
Nothing kills a daydream faster than the realization you’re responsible for two small humans splashing in one of the world’s most unforgiving bodies of water.
“What, the kids?” I said.
“I can’t see them.”
“I’m sure they’re fine.”
“Can you check on them, please?”
Melinda, being someone who grew up in a landlocked state and receives 95 percent of her news from Facebook, was convinced it was only a matter of time before our children were dragged out to sea by sinister rip currents. As such, she was a bit more vigilant about monitoring their whereabouts while they were in the water than I was.
“The lifeguard is right there,” I said, pointing to where my dude had stopped twirling his whistle long enough to reach down and finger the strap of Blonde 1’s bikini top.
My fun ended when the girls bid goodbye to their whistle-twirling Adonis and bounded up the beach. Seeing no other specimens worthy of my attention, I decided to take a nap.
This plan worked for about 10 minutes, until the serenity of my relaxation was interrupted by the scream of a jet engine. You see, Virginia Beach, in addition to being the birthplace of rap artist Pusha T and Oscar-nominated actor Mark Ruffalo, also happens to be directly in the flight path of Naval Air Station Oceana, which, by my calculations, launches approximately three thousand F-18 Hornets per hour.
To locals, I’m sure it’s as routine as living near the train tracks and not hearing the 5:00 express anymore because you’re so used to it, but for someone whose experience with fighter jets doesn’t extend much further than Top Gun – both the movie and the 8-bit Nintendo game — it’s an irksome interruption.
Though the jets can’t be doing more than a hundred miles an hour, lazily strolling out to sea, their turbines wail like they’re engaged in a Mach 2 battle with a squadron of Migs.
For the rest of my vacation, my actions were punctuated by jet engines.