New Thoughts on Words
Aging & Attitude
Laughter fills the early morning air at the Hammock Beach Club in Florida. The sound is cynical, rich with ridicule and doubt. Bubbles St. Clair interrupts her swim to scan the tower balconies and find the source, a man on the fifth floor corner unit, waves. He is a stranger to her and she does not wave back.
The noise increases as people wake and stand on their terrace, sipping coffee, savoring the view from the lollipop yellow colored building. The neon paint is softened by a pale watermelon trim and whip cream clouds drifting across the sky.
As Bubbles does the backstroke the stranger turns to go inside, she gets a glimpse of his Coke 400 t-shirt and pony tail.
By noon Bubbles has showered, dressed, and is roaming Publix’s produce aisle looking for fennel. The constant beep of an automated shopping cart annoys her, and she recognizes the driver by his red Coke t-shirt. Bubbles counts eleven types of tomatoes the man feels traveling in reverse creating a non-stop beep,beep, beeeeeeeeeeeee.
He is scruffy, overweight and has thin hair on top, a ponytail down his back. His three-day-old beard is red but doing the Cha-Cha with a bit of gray. His needy eyes turn and ask Bubbles, “How was your swim?”
His voice stirs feelings long forgotten, and has a texture reminiscent of her past.
He continues, “You know anything about these Romas from Canada?” Bubbles examines the assortment of tomatoes before answering, “No never had them, look delicious though.” She feels sorry for him beeping back and forth, reduced to squeezing tomatoes for pleasure. She smiles and walks away.
In the parking lot Bubbles watches Tomato Man get in his car, coincidentally parked next to hers, from a distance. She slows her pace and avoids his wave goodbye.
Rolling her eyes, she mutters disbelief then arranges packages on the back seat before noticing a beat up wallet on the ground.
Inside there is a photo license of Tomato Man, and she reads the name aloud, Tom Scary.
I knew a Tom Scary in High School, she thinks.
The address reads, Hensonville, New York. I went to High School in Hensonville, she remembers.
Bubbles gets in her car, turns the air conditioning up real high, and questions aloud, “Is he that stranger?”