The breeze was slight and the ocean was a blue blanket spread in front of me. I was sprawled out in a lounge chair writing away on my laptop. I was in the zone. My fingers couldn’t keep up. Joggers and walkers sped around me like horses on a carousel, but I paid them no mind. I was writing on a ship somewhere off the coast of Cabo San Lucas. It was blissful.
Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a speed walker heading my direction. She was clad in a t-shirt and squat red shorts that, let’s say, didn’t suit her body type. Earbuds tucked into her ears, she swung her arms vigorously to the beat. As she passed me she looked my way and let out a disdainful “Tsk!” and kept on walking. I looked around wondering what had warranted such a reaction. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Maybe it was a special exercise breathing thing. Other than riding my bike, I’m not really up on fitness type things like breathing and fancy stuff like that. I shrugged it off and continued typing.
The second time Red Shorts passed me she slowed, leaned down, slapped my ankle, and motored away. Was there a bug on me? Was my lounge chair in the middle of the walkway and I didn’t realize it? Was this some sort of joke I wasn’t in on? I so did not understand what was going on here, but I didn’t want to slip out of the ever shrinking writing zone, so dropped my head and tapped away on my keyboard.
When I saw Red Shorts making her third approach, I stopped typing ready to solve the mystery I like to call “What is your problem?” She came in for a third pass. This time she stopped and grabbed my ankle. My mind quickly reverted back to my childhood, but before I could even force the words “Stranger danger!” out of my mouth, Red Shorts began to scold me. With music blasting into her ears, her voice at a volume appropriate only for rock concerts, she said, “You’d better not be working. You’re on vacation.” I assured her that I was not working. I was writing and I like to write. Sometimes I even call myself a writer. She said “You’re a writer? Then that’s working and you shouldn’t work on vacation.” I explained that my profession is teaching and that I write for pleasure. This didn’t compute. She continued barking at me. “Well my daughter brought her laptop with her because she just started up a new business and has to check up on it. She was on that internet so much that I had to hide her computer from her!”
While Red Shorts railed on her daughter, I tried to figure out how to flee the scene. The woman was standing directly in front of my chair with a Vulcan death grip on my ankle. What was that my kickboxing instructor used to tell me? Was it jab the eyes first? Or was it a finger in the windpipe? Should I kick free first and then knee her in the stomach? Darn it, I should have stuck with those classes! As I was debating self-defense maneuvers, Red Shorts took a breath. Aha! My opportunity to escape! I calmly assured her that I was not working, but that I appreciated her concern and I hoped she had a lovely cruise with her daughter. She admonished, “I just don’t want you getting into bad habits like that when you’re young.” Then she bustled on down the deck not to be seen again.
‘Bad habits like that’? Did Red Shorts really just give me a lesson on bad habits? She’s the one who violated my perfectly calm writing zone. Want a bad habit to break? How about not grabbing strangers? Just a thought. I was a little miffed at first, but then I realized Red Shorts would make a great little story. I’m sure she’d be very pleased knowing she’s supporting my ‘bad habit’.