Evvy Spied on Surfers
Evvy was driving the ocean side of Highway 1 along the cliffs at Big Sur, fifty years old and feeling it in her neck and hip. It was difficult to keep her eyes off the Pacific. The wave was at sixteen feet. Evvy could imagine her Toyota flying over the edge, could feel that soaring death like it was in progress, yet found it impossible not to gaze at the young men taking turns riding the twenty-foot waves. Past the break line, clumps of them lounged on their boards, their black wet suits bruising the ocean’s surface as if it were a soft knee. Others sat on their boards, arrogant cowboys. Evvy had been snooping on them for a decade.
She pulled over, parking near a white BMW that shined like a rental. As she hauled 177 pounds of herself out of her car, three boys alighted from the BMW and approached. One wore his polo shirt over his neon-blue wetsuit. The other two were zipped to the neck, also in neon. They each removed their $200 sunglasses before neon-blue addressed her, Ma’am, and asked for “assistance” in finding the path to the beach. In their light drawl, Evvy heard Virginia, heard old money. She’d spent her seventh grade year at a private school founded in eighteen-hundred-and-so-and-so, filled with boys whose breeding didn’t prevent them from gazing knowingly and with desire at the blisters on a seventh grader’s mouth caused by the banana the older girls made her go down on, the night before classes started.
At fifty, it was still not often that Evvy felt no fear around boys. On the cliff, she gestured without speaking to the path. They thanked her, Ma’am. They moseyed. She wanted them humbled by the barnacle-covered lady rocks rising above the spray, as maternal as armpits. “Come to Mama, succulent youth,” the rocks bellowed in Evvy’s stead. Even so, Evvy yearned to protect the boys in their too-new neon. She could shout, “Paddle around the line-up instead of through it.” “Let the old-timers have a wave.” She could undo a zipped one’s wetsuit to his navel and tie its arms below his ass.
Guilt tore through Evvy’s torso like a Great White. She had kids.
Evvy returned her gaze to the sea. One dark-suited Adonis barely missed the mama rocks. Wipe out. His fear was seawater up her nose, salty fluid in her throat, breath running out, shoved to the dirt in the forest behind that decorous prep school, three seniors, athletes, pulling her arms and legs into an X. The arm-holder bounced on his haunches. “Finish up, Sproul. This isn’t your wedding night.” Sproul whispered, “The next time, it will be just the two of us.”
Again, the arm-holder. “Turn her over. Hands and knees.”
On the cliff, Evvy clutched her tense hands in front of her belly. She watched the neon-clad boys paddle out, exhaling heavily when they avoided the drooling mamas. Even so, their session would have to survive the heaving hypothermia that was Big Sur in January. She wanted to scream — hands and knees — though all she had to say was, “Watch out for the white water! It can hold you under!”