Crossing Estero Boulevard on to the beach access, I could see there were a lot of visitors on the island. This was confirmed as I coasted on to the soft sand. My “usual spot” was taken, and my “alternate” spot was taken. Lots of umbrellas and pop up tents with lots of coolers and towels and bodies. I set up my chair closer to the water’s edge than I prefer, but in a spot as isolated as I could manage. The smell of coconut sun screen filled the air.
Estero Island runs WNW to ESE, but islanders refer to it as the north end or the south end. The south end is predominantly condominiums, while the north end is considered the business or commercial district, and home of Times Square. Times Square, a pedestrian mall with many restaurants offering al fresco dining sits at the base of the big bridge. The county park with the fishing pier is also located there. My stretch of beach is about two miles from times square, and about one mile from the famous Lani Kai Resort. I can see the bright green building of the Lani Kai from my seat, and the fleet of recreational boaters anchored off shore. The water conducts the beat of the live band .
There is a constant parade of people walking the shore line going from the south to the north, from the north to the south. I notice with pleasure a large number of young people. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. I pick up pieces of conversation as each group passes. Four young men in their knee length swim trunks are talking about “..in my school there’s only three of them..” Two girls in pink and black bikinis walked passed me. Pink bikini is talking: “ and he was like, “oh, no way” and I was like, well, like I said, “ Then the girls stopped, Pink says “ why don’t we just set up here?” I watched as they systematically spread out four large beach towels overlapping each edge side by side. I guessed they were in their early twenties. Black bikini had all the bling in the belly button and seemed the dominant personality of the two. They walked into the water, up to their ankles, and turned looking back to the beach. They began waving to someone further down the beach. Black bikini demonstrated annoyance by placing her hands on her hips as she shifted her weight. She hollered out, “HEY!!!!” They walked back out of the water, and returned to the towels. Pink used the reflection in Black’s sunglasses to check on her hairdo. Then the boys arrived. One had a cell phone stuck in his ear. The other two engaged in conversation and shoulder slapping with the bikinis. Judging by the age of the boys, the girls were not yet twenty. Then another couple joined them from the other direction, a girl in a green bikini and a guy in Billabong trunks. The black bikini made some remark to Billabong, and ended it with “Oh Alan, you’re such a jerk”.
At the water’s edge, two boys about the size of a six year old played with minnow nets. A little girl with a hot pink swim ring ran in between them. A fourth child, a girl about six engaged in a sand ball fight. I remember how taboo that was for any of our kids - beach kids did not throw sand. Passing by from the south was a very attractive blond woman in a red white and blue bikini with a bright red sarong. She walked gracefully by. Passing from the north was an attractive young man whose entire body was ripped muscle. I could almost see the sparks fly as he passed her. Neither changed expression but shortly after they had passed, Muscles stopped and turned and watched her. “Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking and when she passes each one she passes goes, ahhh”
A man bent over with age wearing bright orange swim trunks and a faded orange hat shuffled into the water. His back hadn’t seen the sun in a really long time. An elderly couple stopped in front of me. They struck me as being from Miami. She was very comfortable in her turquoise two piece. He was round. His round head was pink with white sidewalls of hair. His round face was pink with a white moustache. His round belly was dusted with fuzzy white hair. He set down the beach bag. She spread out a turquoise towel and sat down. He fished through the bag and pulled out a well worn ball cap and placed it on the round pink head.
Two men stopped and began a game of catch with their baseball and mitts. Gradually they increased the distance between them and the speed of their throws. These men were probably in the neighborhood of my age. The kid with the cellphone stuck in his ear was sitting on the towel watching them. “Man I like to play catch!” he shouted out. Having felt an audience, the baseballers seemed to step up their throws and catches to a more professional appearance. “ Hey, do you have another mitt?” Cellphone called out. “Naw..we just brought these..” responded one of the players. “ We’re just tryin’ to see if we still got it…” commented the other.
Earlier, I observed a couple walking by from the south. They caught my eye because the guy looked like someone I know, but as they got closer I could see that he was not. As I observed them, they walked like they had a buzz on. Well here they were some time later, returning from the north. They stop, and she walks in to the water. He stands on the shore watching her. She walks in about waste high and slides her body in up to her neck. How obvious was it that she had to pee. He just stood there waiting. She emerged and they continued on their way.
Such went the day of people watching. Never a dull moment on a beautiful beach day here in southwest Florida. Truly a day of Independence.