Revisiting the Summer of 1969

by RS on December 5, 2013

A few weeks ago, one of my co-moderators commented that she was asked where she gets her ideas for her stories. I’ve been asked that as well and my only response is, “Everywhere.” It can be from an overheard conversation, a newspaper article, a line of dialogue in a movie, play, or book. It can be from personal experiences or simply 100 percent made up.

My stories are based somewhat on personal experience and on topics that interest me, but I recently recalled an event that easily could be fashioned and shaped into a future story, and for some reason I neglected to write about it in the post about the Summer of 1969 and the Winter of 1973 .

This was the summer, my mother wanted to buy a house in Mallorca, when I was promised a puppy, and the grisly events that occured in California. It was the summer where we often went to the “Club” and swam in the salty, ice-cold pool, went to the best beaches, the movies, and just about any event that would keep an eight year-old girl entertained.

What spurred most of this activity was what my friend Ana and I witnessed one late Saturday afternoon. Ana lived in a house in El Terreno that overlooked  what is now an extension of the Paseo Maritimo, but in 1969 it was this undeveloped part of the bay that was used by the locals to swim. Near Ana’s house there was an boy’s orphange run by priests and at 11:00 o’clock in the morning the boys would all come down for a swim.

I was a bit intimidated by both the priests and the boys. At the time I couldn’t distinguish the differences between nuns and priests and witches and warlocks. To me they were one and the same. So essentially I saw the orphanage as some sort of coven, but also felt very sad for these boys because they didn’t have a mother or a father. When the boys came down for a swim, my mother would take me back to the flat we were renting nearby, telling me that “It’s their time to swim. We’ll come back later in the afternoon.”

This was a typical day, and on the weekends we would have a big lunch with Ana’s family and hang out on the patio that overlooked the bay. One late afternoon, Ana and I were playing parchese on the patio, and at some point I stood, walked over to the railing, and looked down onto the rocky shore. I noticed a pale man, in his 20s or early 30s, with long, curly strawberry blonde hair, sporting a close-cropped beard and mustache.  He approached one of the bigger and flatter rocks where we would sit and fish, settling on that spot and streching out, he looked up, saw me, smiled and waved a greeting. I reciprocated and he winked back. Ana noticed that someone or something had caught my attention and asked what the hell was I doing and to return to the game because it was my turn. I told her about the man, she jumped up, and went over to the railing.

“Where?” She asked.

“Down by the flat rock,” I said, pointing down to the man.

She looked down and the man waved to her. She followed suit. This went on for a while and then he gestured in a beckoning motion for us to come down. We shook our heads no. It was getting close to 7:00 pm, we already had our morning and afternoon swims, and it was just time to stay home to play games or read.

So this pantomimed conversation kept going on, but then it got strange. He unzipped his jeans and I turned to Ana and said, “He’s going to pee!”

But he didn’t do that.

When he was done, Ana yanked my arm. “Swear you won’t say anything to our mothers. If you say a word we won’t be able to go swimming.”

I didn’t understand the logic of what the man did and how it connected to our swimming. So I agreed to it, but I knew that if I wasn’t supposed to say something that meant what he did wasn’t good. So I said something. And the next day, Ana chewed me out for having a big mouth.

But thanks to my big mouth, our mothers went out of their way for us to become members of the local pool and tennis club, go every weeked to the most beautiful beaches, and have all sorts of fun excursions. The only rule that we had to obey was to keep away from the balcony’s railing. That was a hard one for me because I just liked to look at the view, and of course, couldn’t help to look to see who was swimming or sunbathing.

So it wasn’t too surprising that the wanker was coming by to see if he could entice us to come down and play. When he waved, I hesitantly raised my hand and heard my mother say, “What did I say about keeping away from the railing?” I put my hand down and walked away.

Looking back at the story, I feel I should be horrified by what transpired, but for some reason, and I can’t explain why, I don’t. Maybe it has to do because our mothers acted accordingly and I knew I’d always be safe (certainly as long as I wasn’t living in California and getting murdered in my own home) or maybe it was because I had the common sense to not listen to Ana and tell my mother what I saw.

In any event, there was no mental scarring, but only the question of what would have happened if we had kept quiet and gone down to talk to him? The only answer to that is left to my imagination.

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