Just the sea and me
I confess these places make me nervous. Woman in khaki with large gun asks for my driving license; I tug on my over sized wallet spilling business cards from the last 20 years all over the car and try to retain the last shred of dignity as a I coolly mutter: "Here goes," as I hand her my ATM card.
One time at Fort Monroe I handed the grumpy security card an out of date registration document.
"Last year's," he snarled at me, throwing it back through the car window.
I proceeded to very slowly and meticulously root through a bundle of papers. "Ah my school attendance record from 1982."
"Nope. Not that one. Nope," I said, Very slowly. A large convoy of vehicles was backing up behind me.
I eyed Mr. Grumpy Pants and told him I'd have to search the trunk. Maybe it was beneath the remnants of last year's camping expedition.
"Did you want to know about the hike to the waterfall?'
"OK. Just go though. But remember it next time," he capitulated.
I think I got off topic. The air base is better than the marine base because hardly anyone visits the marine base store. And those who do walk right past the wine section to pick up hard liquor.
After three hours of standing in an aisle reading the labels of other manufacturers' wines you start muttering to yourself. That and stalking the aisles to rugby tackle passers by, drag them to the table and force them to sample wine. This is not a good idea in a venue where shoppers have grown muscles on their muscles.
Nothing much happens at the marine store. Except a couple of weeks ago when someone tried to buy a gun that went off and injured a passer-by.
There were other samplers at the air base including a woman of advanced years who in the words of Leonard Cohen was "100 but she was wearing something tight."
Mavis was offering Southern Comfort, in particular to Brian, a guy of advanced years who strutted in wearing leathers.
"You want to go on the bike today?" he drawled pointing to the Harley he had strategically parked so as it was visible through the doors.
Marvis went on about hot flushes associated with the menopause. Brian got closer and closer to her sampling table radiating phony sympathy. You could almost hear his leather trousers throbbing like the engine of his Harley.
If he got any closer he might as well have lay on her sampling table like a submissive giant gray haired leather fly seeking Southern Comfort.
Mavis detailed a few more health problems from her shopping list. Brian finally strutted off like John Wayne. What is it with guys who ride Harleys? And why are they always so old?
At least I sold a lot of wine and spent three hours talking to human beings instead of labels.
By the time I left th store spring was in the air and I headed for the beach.
Sometimes you have to get away. Sometimes you have to get to the sea. Finally the air was warm with the scents of spring. Out at the nature reserve the reeds swayed gently in the wind and people with dogs meandered back from the beach.
But there's something refreshing about being alone on the beach. Maybe this is our natural state, as lonely figures on the beach watching the ebb and flow of a gentle tide.
From the earliest days man has looked at the sea and yearned for far off shores.
Some foam crackled around my feet and a gentle tide sloughed in. It was strange to think the same sea had been scouring out the land and dragging so many people to their deaths thousands of miles away.