Here and Now with S Sorrensen - Feb 25

Wategos, Byron. Sunday, 5pm:

“Mich mouse bull boo mike moo miffin?” she asks.

“What?” I say.

Either the water at Wategos Beach has leaked into her brain and some toxin has dissolved her ability to speak, or I’m not hearing properly. The water we’re lolling in is so clear and refreshing that it couldn’t possibly contain toxins. (I mean, who on earth would put toxins into clean water?)

The sun is dropping slowly over the western end of the bay and there ain’t a care in this beautiful world. The sun’s light, still silver but anticipating gold, bounces off the water like off expensive jewellery. A helicopter buzzes overhead. Barbecue smells waft from the beach.

Having just risen from the deep depths (about a metre) where I was cruising the sandy bottom like a nuclear sub, I figure that it’s my ears, still full of the Pacific Ocean, that are at fault.

“Which house would you like to live in?” she repeats, floating on her back, her eyes roaming the Wategos hillside.

Wow. How very generous of her. Now let me see...

Copying her, I flip onto my back and frame the hillside between my feet. Sprouting from the hill is a bouquet of trees and houses. It looks pretty. Pretty expensive.

“I like that older one there, near my left big toe,” I say. “It has covered verandahs and the deep shade looks cool and inviting,” (And mysterious. Modern buildings lack mystery. They’re overdressed and superficial.)

I wait for her reply but she’s vanished. Only a swirl of foam marks where she was. Shark? I have a moment of anxiety. Nothing stays the same. Everything changes. It’s the rule. And that makes me nervous.

“I could sit on that shady verandah spotting visiting sharks and boat people with my binoculars,” I say, even though she isn’t there. “I’d enforce the dress code. Except for sharks of course.”

I see a shape under the water swimming towards me. I’m not scared. I’m surrounded by tourists. Everyone knows that sharks prefer tourist meat.

I do have untanned skin, though...

The shape surfaces but it’s no shark, it’s her.

Of course. As if it wouldn’t be. No nasties in paradise, just bars and sunset swims and laksa and doof music. It’s la la land. La la la la.

“I could sit on that verandah,” I say to her re-emerged head, “sipping a cool drink with an umbrella in it, watching spotless 4WD cars idle timidly waiting for a car park while I check my investments online.

“I could be one of the beautiful people and play on the beach. Like that bloke there with huge muscles awkwardly throwing a frisbee to a girl with a bikini so tiny that shrinkage is not an option.” (I say awkwardly, because his gym-grown muscles are only good for lifting heavy things above his head.)

“I could eat tuna with fresh salad and join an anti-whaling group. I could lift stranded whales above my head.

“I could get teak furniture from Indonesia. The teak forests have all been logged but now they’re mining the heavy old roots. I could carry a coffee table above my head.”

“What are you talking about?” she asks.

A man standing on a surfboard (yes, standing) paddles with a paddle (yes, paddle) into the perfect little waves and out towards the deep unknown. He nods at us nonchalantly as he passes and heads for Chile.

“I could surf a tsunami,” I say.

It’s lovely here...

But I reckon there’s probably a bloke with bleached blond hair called Nero sitting on that shady verandah playing fiddle right now.

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