Monday, February 01, 2010

Grey Matter


Boogie Wrinkly by Pants

Yesterday I was at the beach. Even though there are always quite a few other people around at this time of year, I like to think of myself as invisible. I've always thought it unseemly for a woman of a certain age to deport herself otherwise. This view has been confirmed by the macular-degenerating sight of the mutton-dressed-as-dolly-mixture teachers at the Larrikin's End Institute of Fine Arts and Advanced Macramé. Funky shoes, day-glo hair and Baby Jane make-up does little for my visual taste buds.

Picture me, modestly attired, out in the foamy sea on my boogie board trying not to lose my contact lenses. The waves are not big, but they're mean. They're receding faster than Prince William's hairline.

There's a steep trough on the shore. This means that the hastily departing wave leaves you suspended in the air like Wile E. Coyote for a second before depositing you, splat, on the hard sand. The trick is not to go in head first, like the boy next to me.

He gets up spluttering and cussing. His friend is laughing like a drain fish. The friend says,

'You need a proper boogie board like that old lady's got.'

How do I explain the cascade of emotions? Well, of course a thirteen-year-old boy is going to think of me as old. Thirty is probably old to this guppy. I console myself by recalling how Niece Pants thought I was a fully paid-up member of GenX. Thirteen year-olds simply do not have a true sense of the expanse of life. I'm not trying to look not old, after all. I'm just minding my delusion-free business. 

And what his friend says is absolutely true. Unless you can successfully audition for the part of Tinkerbell, you need a proper boogie board from a sports shop and not one from a pile near the checkout at K-Mart. I like to think there is some skill involved, otherwise I would find it hard to justify the years of making like a sea ostrich, but the unimpeachable truth is the better the boogie board, the better the ride. A decent boogie board is expensive but less than the price of a replacement contact lens.

Having shed my cloak of invisibility, I retreat to a place of safety beyond frisbee range to read. The beach is the reason the Kindle (stupid word) and the iPad (why did they name it after a sanitary product, pray?), will never replace the paperback. You can shake sand out of a book. 

I've started reading Unended Quest, Karl Popper's autobiography. I got it for $1.50 at a charity shop. It was marked $3 but when I got to the counter, the lady told me that the 'novels' were all half-price. I didn't argue. It does actually say 'autobiography' on the cover but perhaps she'd read it already and found it didn't square with her own recollections of young Karl. I think it was Tolstoy who said, 'if you want the truth, read fiction'. I guess life is pretty much all fiction now anyway.