Denny was going overseas at the end of the month. He was going to be gone for over a year. That was a rite of passage for most of the young men in the era of the draft. But I was 'in love' and 18 months is forever for someone young and eager to experience life. I was very sad about him having to leave. The more we saw of each other the more we wanted to be together. The more nights that he parked in front of my house and kissed me good night the more I wanted him to kiss me. I was learning! He was exploring! I would soon find out that I was being put through a rite of passage too, but I am getting ahead of myself. More about that later. After my roller coaster 'faint of heart' exhibition we stayed away from amusement parks and chancy places where I would be apt to demonstrate my ability to demobilize a Marine. His last full day of leave was coming up fast and we decided to make it special. We were going to spend the day at the beach. The beach that we chose was up the coast a bit. It was far enough away to make it seem special, but close enough to run home and shower if we decided to do something else later. It had fire pits and a reputation for fierce surf. We would spend the day playing in the sun and the water, roast hot dogs, and watch the sun set. Wonderful! I love the sand, the sun, the sound of the waves, the feel of the water on my skin. The immensity of the ocean puts my soul to rest, puts my fears in perspective, and fills me with wonder. A perfect place for Denny and I to create the perfect last day.
Denny picked me up early and we set off for our last day together. It was a perfect day. One of those days that Southern California is known for. The sun was warm, the breeze was cool, and the beach wasn't crowded. It was our day and we were happy. We found a spot that was almost abandoned and spread out our blanket. We were together and we were almost alone. Now remember, this was the 1950's. Girls ironed their bras so they would give a pointed effect to their breasts, the birth control pill was unheard of, the double standard was hard core double, bathing suits were one piece and I was just learning that I loved what a boy with some experience could make my body feel. We lolled around on the blanket and let the sun warm our skin. AND for the first time since we had started getting acquainted Denny kissed me in public and let his hands wander on my bare skin. He kept telling me how warm my skin was and I kept hearing my mother tell me "good girls don't". I finally suggested that we go for a swim. I loved to swim. It was one of the two athletic things that I was allowed to do. I loved the waves crashing into me as I went deeper and deeper into the water. The surf at this particular beach was reputed to be rough with a strong under tow, but I had never had any trouble here and I was anxious to get into the water and cool off. Denny agreed that the water would feel good so we grabbed one anothers hand and strolled down to the surf. Denny walked in ahead of me and took off swimming into the waves. I stood there for a bit and admired him, but the water was calling me and I waded in and dived under a wave. When I came up Denny was a wave or two ahead of me and he laughed and yelled for me to catch up. When I got to him we had a great time swimming and splashing and bobbing on the waves. We were just about ready to go back to the shore when the wave of all waves came surging toward us. I yelled and started swimming for the shore, but it caught me and pulled me under as it tumbled me forward. It threw me everywhere. I tried, with everything in me, to fight the pull and toss, but I was spiraling up and into the wave then crashing down to the sand at the same time that I was being thrown forward. I was very frightened. I had always thought I was a strong swimmer, but that wave was ferocious. In my panic I threw my arms around and miracle of miracles I found Denny above me and grabbed on. I really thought that he was trying to save me and I held on with all the strength that I had in me. I could feel him being tossed and thrown about but I held on tight and the two of us rode the wave into the shore where we were very ungraciously thrown like we were seaweed. While I was gasping for breath and trying to sit up I could hear Denny yelling, but I couldn't quite understand what he was saying. My ears were still filled with seawater. I had been dumped facing the ocean so my back was to Denny. As I struggled to dig in the sand and turn around I came face to face with a man so irate he could hardly sputter, much less talk. There was blood dripping from his nose down to his chin. I was so shocked that I just sat there in the wet sand. "What happened, you're bleeding?" I asked in my sweetest salt water and sand confusion.
'YOU GRABBED HOLD OF MY TOE. MY LEG WAS FORCED UP WHERE YOU WERE AND MY FACE WAS FORCED INTO THE SAND. THE WAVE DRAGGED ME TO SHORE WITH MY NOSE BURIED IN THE SAND. WHY IN THE HELL DIDN'T YOU LET GO OF MY TOE...............oh my God you're naked, you're breasts are beautiful!"
I was still in a state of confusion. What the heck had I done? I thought he was trying to save my life, but he was yelling that it was my fault that he had blood all over his face, and why was he talking about my breasts. I glanced down at the mess that was me and instantly realized that the wave had ripped my bathing suit down around my hips. I grabbed the suit and tried to pull it up, but it was full of sand and I wasn't having an easy time. Denny's anger turned to laughter as he strolled my way. He didn't exactly run over to help me, but he did eventually make it over my way. By the time he bent over to help me stand up I was as red as the blood dripping off the tip of his nose. He helped me pull my bathing suit up to where it was supposed to be and then laughing he said, "You're bright red are you sunburned?" And as he continued to laugh he gallantly said, "Seeing you sitting nude in the surf is worth a raw nose any day."In the past month I had let him walk around with a hole in his pants, crushed his left side, and damaged his nose, but his laughter had healed any anger. He had something he had to do before he left for a year. Problem was he neglected to tell me what he intended to do.