Collective stories: ‘South Beach Bathers’

That 17th of July, like every day since it was hot again, and like every year, Catherine and Allan went sunbathing in Barcelona. After a while, when they had had enough, they grabbed their umbrella and a pack of card: they set up the former and played with the latter. After noon they put away the card and unwrapped their sandwiches, as usual.

However, that time was different. A group of five quite loud but fun-looking guys laid their towels close to them. After eating, Kate and Allan considered asking the group to watch their belongings while they swam.

South Beach Bathers [picture: John French Sloan]

South Beach Bathers [picture: John French Sloan]

That’s how they became friends with the newcomers. Sparrow and Wayne, the two boys and the most talkative in the group, were amazed at how well prepared those two were against the sun, boredom and hunger. Next time they met, they also had an umbrella, cards and sandwiches. The seven boys spread under the two umbrellas together and a bunch of them could go to the water without worrying about the bags and, after that, they’d play cards; the couple taught the quintet new games and vice versa.

In spite of having a great time, as days passed and they got comfortable, Sparrow and Wayne tried to claim the alpha male role they possessed in their group because the girls were too lazy or too naive to be bothered. Catherine and Allan realized that and told the boys it wasn’t fair for them to get upset whenever they played a different game from their choice.

Sparrow and Wayne, knew their girls well enough to have them join for a swim or to avoid them joining the other couple. And they used their followers to impose the game they wanted. Moreover, they took more and more space to the point of leaving Catherine and Allan half out of the shade. After all, was the reasoning, the other were five and had just one umbrella. And they didn’t even consider bringing another one or overlapping towels.

The first couple tried to reason seriously with the two boys, but they wouldn’t listen. There was no problem, or it was just theirs since they were the only two complaining. Catherine and Allan were quite fond of the three girls, who were not to blame, and waited for a couple of weeks.

However, on the 14th of September, when the five set up their umbrella, Catherine and Allan said things had got uncomfortable and they’d rather go back to a reduced friendly couple. Three months playing someone else’s games was too much. They were still accused of being selfish for not wanting to share the shade and arrogant for thinking their games better.

That hostile environment with no place for reasoning forced Catherina and Allan to pick up their cards, their umbrella and their self-respect and to split up from Sparrow and Wayne.

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