Do you have a spare towel?

Do you have a spare towel?

After an hour’s surf in waves that begged to be ridden, clear and classy and close to two metres, she showers in the open along the promenade. As she finishes removing the salt and sand from her body, a surfer she doesn’t recognise heads towards the shower. He smiles at her. Smiling back at him, she turns and heads towards her car.

 

While extracting her body from the tight wetsuit, a wetsuit she uses to protect herself from the sun, not because of the water’s temperature, she wraps a towel around herself. Out the corner of her right eye, she spots the surfer at his car parked four bays away turn to face her and walk towards her. Turning her back toward him, she faces the opposite direction and carries on drying her body.

 

“Hi,” he says.

 

She spins around, faces him, and appears into his smiling face; returning his greeting, she waits for him to further engage. What could he possibly want? Why bother her now, while away from the shower, when they were closer, almost in each other’s space? The previous surfer who approached her needed to know about her board and how it performed. Really? What’s it going to be this time?

 

“Sorry for disturbing you,” he finally speaks again. “And this is probably doing to be the weirdest question… Ummm… Well, I’m… Do you by any chance have a spare towel I could use?”

 

She chuckles, unbelieving at first. A spare towel. Who asks for a spare towel these days? “No, sorry. I only have this one.” They both appear down at the towel now wrapped around her lower body.

 

“Damn! I have to go straight to work and could kick myself for forgetting it.”

 

Before she permits herself a moment to think, she blurts, “You could always use this one once I’m done, but it’s sopping wet. It didn’t have a chance to dry yesterday from all the rain.”

 

“I’m rather desperate at the moment, and anything is better than nothing. Thanks, I really appreciate it.”

 

He does not move away from her car, while she’s attempting to change in to dry clothes. Standing on the other side of the open door, he carries on the conversations, speaking about the waves, the best surfing spots and how it’s not always safe parking along this stretch of promenade.

While he’s talking, not giving her the privacy he ought to give a woman, she considers the possible inappropriateness of sharing a personal item with a stranger.

 

Later that morning, she shares the story with her lover. Her lover, more than eight thousand kilometres away, immediately believes he is trying to pick her up. “How can you be so naïve at times? So blatant!” he carries on.

 

Of course, she disagrees. “What’s wrong with needing a towel?”

 

“He overstepped a boundary and you allowed him to. I bet money that he’ll be there tomorrow and will probably come up with something else to get your attention.”

 

The following day, after her eight kilometre run along the beach sand, she returns to the promenade, and while washing the sand from her feet she spots surfer-towel-man. While chatting to a couple of other surfers, he raises his hand, waving in her direction.

 

Waving back, she approaches the group. “Brought you a spare towel,” she says to him. Laughing, he thanks her and then introduces her to the two other surfers that enjoyed a bodysurf. One of them says, “It didn’t last long after spotting a fin this big.” He opens his hands, about a metre wide. The other interjects, “We attached ourselves to each other, to appear bigger than we are, and got back to shore as quickly as possible.”

 

As soon as the two surfers leave, surfer-towel-man says, “Join me for a surf.”

 

“Are you crazy? Not after a fin’s been spotted.”

 

“Come on! They’re there all the time, and they’ve ignored you for this long.”

She makes her excuses and leaves.

 

The next morning at sunrise, she dives into the water with her board and frollicks amongst the waves. Riding wave after wave, feeling energised, not wanting to get out but needing to take responsibility for the rest of her day, she reluctantly emerges from the Indian Ocean.

 

Upon showering, she spots surfer-towel-man parking his car. Approaching her, he says, “Can’t believe I’ve missed all the action!”

 

“Too lazy to get up early today?”

 

“Don’t even go there! We had a family gathering last night and the children drove me mad, the two thugs ran a mock, practically destroyed my home before I could get to them.”

 

“Do you have children?”

 

“Yes, a son.” She asks his age; ten, he tells her.

 

“Not a surfer then?”

 

“He’s afraid of the water, but slowly becoming braver. Maybe one day he’ll want to.”

 

“Are you married? She enquires, thinking if he is attached then surely she is safe, safe from any form of unwanted attention.

 

”Not when you’re around!”

 

Perhaps her lover is correct after all, and she somehow needs to stop being so naïve.

 

Does that mean I need to be more cynical, she ponders…

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