The one saving grace of this entire debacle was the fact that my mother was preoccupied with not losing/killing one of the little kids, leaving me free to roam around, pretending that I was there on my own, scoping out cute boys for a summer romance. The idea of a summer romance was heavy on my mind, having recently seen "Blue Lagoon" and having spent the four-hour drive to the beach reading Young Miss Magazine.
Having made the circuit of the amusement park twice, I narrowed down the hottest prospect to the swarthy, dark-eyed boy operating the bumper boats. He had a quick smile for every boater that he helped aboard. It didn't escape my notice that there were a lot of teen girls frequenting the bumper boats, giggling loudly and flirting unabashedly. Most of these girls were traveling in packs of at least two or three, leaving me at a decided disadvantage. I had no one to giggle loudly with and was left with not much more than the hair flip and shy smile in my flirting arsenal.
I don't know what to blame it on -- aging, later years of pot-smoking and heavy drinking or simple brain overload -- but the rest of that day at the amusement park is forgotten to me. I can see that boy's face, and his smile, but can't remember his name. I have no recollection of what his voice sounded like or how our conversation progressed. But I do know that at some point I gave him the name of the condos where my family was staying and made plans to meet at the beach the next morning, before he had to report back to the bumper boats for the afternoon shift.
I woke up with a nervous, fluttering stomach, uninterested in breakfast. I donned my bikini (oh, God, to think of how I used to wear a bikini!) and grabbed my essential beach gear, which consisted of a beach towel, sunglasses, a couple copies of YM, an AM/FM radio, Johnson's Baby Oil and a couple of cans of Tab, and headed for the beach. This aroused no suspicion whatsoever within the family; I'd spent the entire summer, much less this vacation, laying in the sun, reading and listening to music.
I headed down to the beach and carefully staked out a prime spot at the end of the designated boardwalk, where I'd be sure to see Bumper Boat Boy when he arrived. If he arrived. Even my 15-year-old naive self knew that there was a really good chance that Bumper Boat Boy had flirted and made plans with many girls at the amusement park that day. That realization didn't ease my butterflies, though, or lessen the amount of Bonnie Bell watermelon lip gloss I applied that morning. Just in case.
(to be continued)