, June 2021

It was just before sunset when they emerged from the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., the pier crowded with locals and tourists. Lee and Melanie, fresh from their Hawaii honeymoon, visiting Melanie’s hometown Santa Monica on their way back to New York, had just dined with her parents and some of her mother’s “inland relatives”, none of whom attended their wedding back East.

Lee had fallen behind and was walking beside Melanie’s Uncle Glenn, an overweight, bearded man wearing a mailroom blue, short-sleeve, button-down shirt and navy slacks, in stark contrast to the colorful shorts, t-shirts, and swimwear nearly everyone else on the pier was wearing.

“My, would you look at that,” Glenn said.

Lee looked around. It took a moment to realize he was referring to a group of bikini-clad girls who couldn’t have been more than fifteen.

“That’s when they’re the best,” Glenn said.


“Cherries ripe for the popping.”


“If there’s grass on the field, play ball. That’s the way they raise them in these parts.”

Lee started walking faster, but Glenn kept pace.

“Look how they want it,” Glenn said.

“Honey,” Lee called ahead, the first time he’d referred to his wife as so, “is that an egret over there?”

“Where?” Melanie asked, looking around.

“It’s a seagull,” Glenn said.

Ignoring Glenn, Lee ran up to Melanie from behind, put his arm around her waist, and kissed her on the cheek.

“I love you,” he said.

“I love you too.” ▪