By Helen Weatherell-Bay*
I remember being really sad this day. Sad enough to be sitting on a beach alone and crying.
This is a low point, Helen, I thought. I am not, and have never been, suicidal. Homicide was always a more comfortable feeling for me. But this day, I was just damn sad and needed a cry. Then suddenly, all I could think was “Get up! YOU’RE DONE.” I knew I was lying. But it was okay.
I got up and started a long walk in the hot sand back to boardwalk. Every step felt heavy and uncomfortable. I reached the boardwalk before the tears returned. As I leaned up against a tree to wipe my feet, I heard a voice.
“That is the saddest face on a pretty girl that I have ever seen. Why?”
He was a handsome, cherubic, elderly man—well dressed and even using a cane.
“My name is Stanley Sadowsky—and who are you?”
I was thinking “Who am I? I am a Lifetime Channel Movie!!” Life is just not like this. Bad days are not resolved by cheery little Jewish saviors that come in little cuddly old-man packages and hug away dreary with one liners that make you wish you had a bat mitzvah.
“I’m not having the best day,” I said. “Just walking back to my hotel.”
I am now sucking back every potential feeling of dread, fear, loneliness and just plain loss of will to live … because clearly Stan’s cataracts couldn’t hide my pain. I’m pathetic, and my brave front did not fool him. He continued.
“Okay!! Good, let’s walk together than—you sound like you have a good story to tell. So tell me … why the tears?”
“I caught my husband cheating on me … well, not really my husband, but my boyfriend and…well…but we have a child together and he has two children as well and ummm, they are two little girls whose mother had died in a car accident and… anyway, we lived together for nine years … along with my son and daughter from my previous marriage.”
I am now feeling like some backwoods trailer trash—banjo and all. I am sure Stan is about to advise me that I should be grateful that I am no longer incarcerated and life out of the joint has so much to offer.
“Oh my dear! How sad! So you were the mommy…to ALL five of these children? And he left you anyway?” was his reply. Honest to God—that’s what he said. He got me. In one sentence I had found my soul mate—well, soul mate from a past life. Life was making more sense to me at that moment and I was rolling with it.
But all I could say was “I am having a hard time right now.” I really did not want to cry any more that day. I swallowed every tear as if it were my favorite Dim Sum. Not now, I thought. I changed the subject.
“How about you Stan? “ I asked, “What’s your story? Why did I find you walking this boardwalk?” This was a sincere question regardless of my motives. As I said, I really don’t believe in the airy-fairy crap—but still.
“Hah!” Stan chuckled. “It is simple Helen.”
Stan stopped walking just then and looked at me. I needed this now; I needed something simple to explain it all. I wanted to drink the Kool-Aid, smoke the pipe in a sweat lodge, and believe that that goddamn book really had The Secret. I looked at Stan for a long while before he said: “My wife, Faye and I walked nearly every night of our life together — 53 years we did this. And the last 10 years were on this very boardwalk.”
“Really?” I replied, knowing she had passed. Maybe this was it, I thought. It’s that simple. I felt a bright light coming on. It’s loyalty. Really—just loyalty. Not the hot body, fun sex and crazy nights that you had with this horrid man who left you—but loyalty. Real loyalty. Real love. Stan continued.
“Yes, Rose [FAYE?]and I were married for 53 years…we had a good life and three beautiful children. We moved here to Santa Barbara when I retired. We liked to walk and talk every evening….” He paused, but I knew he had more to say.
“I miss her every day. Every day.”
And so it was. I found some meaning in my pain.
Just as Stan and I were approaching the corner that I needed to cross the highway to get to my hotel, I was feeling as if this man could be my friend for the rest of my life—or the rest of his. In any case, I turned to him and said, “Well, Stan, this is where I need to cross the street.” I wanted to race across the highway without losing this feeling—I needed it so.
Stan smiled and said, “Oh Helen, okay. Can I give you a hug?”
“Of course,” I said, pushing my arms out, to gather a little more happiness from this day.
Stan put his arms around me and kissed my cheek. I stopped myself from crying again. Stan’s arms were so tight that it was a few seconds before I noticed that they had moved near my boobs. When I realized this, I reassured myself that he was just trying to steady himself as he said goodbye to me. Then Stan looked up at me and whispered…
“ Oh my, you feel so good.” I was still certain that I misunderstood and replied,
“So do you, Stan.”
“I like holding your hot tits,” I heard him say in my ear. I was both shocked and mildly turned on. Come on, I thought, this could never happen again, now that I’d been dumped.
I came to my senses and said, “Okay, Stan, I really need to cross the street and get back to my hotel,” as I pulled his crippled hands off my hot tits and pushed the button to cross the street.
“Really?” he asked.
“Oh yes, Stan, really,” I said, as I kissed his bald head. “Maybe we will meet again on the boardwalk.” I began to have thoughts of choking this ancient little pervert if he carried on like this.
“Goodbye, Helen,” was all he said.
The light changed and the green “Go” sign to cross came up just before my thoughts of choking turned to something much more dark. I ran across the street while looking back at him. I suddenly began to laugh—really laugh out loud. Life is so absurd, I thought, as I neared the center of the highway.
As I was shaking my head, I could hear a strange “tweeting” sound. This sound was meant to notify the blind to let them know it was safe to go to the other side of the street. I knew this because it was posted on the crosswalks. I could have used just that kind of warning that day, if not my entire life. I wondered if it would have made any difference. When I finally crossed the road, I knew. Probably not.
Shortly after her break-up, Helen Weatherell-Bay sold her house and most of her worldly goods and bought a bar in Mexico–near the beach. When not mixing margaritas or frying chicken wings, she enjoys the surf, sun and occasionally documenting her new and bizarre life on her Apple laptop. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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