In the summertime all you and Galio can think about is the beach because that is where you spend every minute that you can hunting down the little shells to make necklaces.
“We should go to the Settlement,” she says. “Get granola bars.”
You don’t like them very much do you? You’d rather have a croissant because it’s French and the magazines of your mother’s have opened up whole worlds of fashion for you just like her books did, but you go, lining up in the little hippie store to get one. It’s dense and full of health and made by hand like everything is made by hand in America in those years. Crafts rule your teenage years. How you make the tops for your bikinis is with Knit Cro-Sheen and Speed Cro-Sheen. They are strings like rainbows you can make, even though you are tiny on top. Little crocheted bras. All your best friends are making them, and marveling at them, too. Everybody is choosing different colors and making their own statements in those years.
Your favorite picture in all of Seventeen magazine one year was the bikini girl you planned to be. She was standing in a field in Mendocino in the fog, wearing a cotton bikini with a denim jacket on. You loved it, didn’t you? Natural like the two of you were. You and Galio were as natural as the sun and the fields and the little yellow flowers that flock the hills each spring into summer. Mustard seed.
You were thirteen the year the first one decided to park himself next to you on the beach. He must have thought you were like Lolita or something. You’d already begun to read that book and so you understood all kinds of things, sort of. You were practicing your crochet in those years. You were trying to do macrame and you were trying to learn knots.
He was dusky tan, like the granola bars in the Settlement, wasn’t he?
He must have been something like 27 when he plopped down next to your little beach towel where you were waiting for Galio on Butterfly. It was your mother’s beach, and it was your beach, wasn’t it?
You were waiting for Galio and you had your transistor radio and all of a sudden out of nowhere a man was lying next to you and he was touching your back with his hand and telling you that you had nice skin. What you did was freeze. You froze as if you were in some kind of arctic fear and all the clouds had moved over the sun, didn’t you?
White girls learn to be careful of strangers.
“Never get into a car with a stranger,” is what your mother had told you. She’d said it so many times that you knew it by heart but it didn’t stop you and Galio in those years from hitchhiking all over town, did it?
Your bathing suit was turquoise that year. Turquoise like the sea and like your jewelry. It was the most beautiful color in the world to you because of all the different kinds of shades the stones contained. Your mom got you that bathing suit. It was just like hers were, except flatter on top.
“Whabich wabun abare yaboo gabettabing?” Galio said, pointing out a blueberry one for herself in the case.
You took your bars, and you walked to the beach and you ate them on the edge of the shore laughing about boys in those years and the way they were staring at the two you.
Boys weren’t the same thing as men.
Men had no right to lie down on that beach towel next to you did they?
“Bitchin’ day,” is what he said as he slid his hand across the small of your back.
You didn’t know what to do did you? But you knew what he was doing was wrong because you didn’t even know him. You were waiting for Galio.
“I have to go,” you said, standing up.
You grabbed your towel and your transistor and your little cotton backpack with the ecology symbols on it and you ran down the beach like a shaft of turquoise light. You ran like an Indian brave ran across the Plains didn’t you, shielded with your magical green and blue rings.
“Gabalabio,” you called out when you saw her just coming down the beach.
“Ahbime sawbow glabad yaboo abare habeere.”
“Thabere wabuzz thabiss maban.”
In your thirteenth year is when they start to surround you in the 1970’s. It seems like everything is up for grabs doesn’t it? It’s in your thirteenth year that you begin to learn about men. You don’t have to be scared of them, do you?
You begin to learn at age thirteen from all the experiences you are going to start having.
It’s many years later that you are sitting alone on your favorite beach at sunset when another man comes up randomly and he plops down next to you on the sand. He wants to talk and the two of you talk for a long, long time about everything under the sun and about all the plastic that has washed up on the beach.
You were a granolagirrrl, weren’t you?
You know how to make granola bars by hand instead of buying them in plastic wrappers that get strewn along the beaches all over the world. You were a girl that wasn’t afraid to go out in public and make friends because there wasn’t anything to be scared of. You were a girl who always had a best friend weren’t you?
“Can I take you to dinner?” he asks.
“Look, I really have to go,” you say.
And you’re packing up all your beach things and your umbrella and your towel and your books and your magazines and he’s offering to help you carry them to your car, and you say, “No, I can handle it.”
It’s not that you don’t like men, because you do. It’s just that girls want to choose the men they like. Instead of the other way around, isn’t it?
After that, when you and Galio were thirteen that summer, the two of you were inseparable. You were best friends because as long as girls travel in twos they will always be safe. Won’t they? Girls will always be safe as long as they have a best friend, just like boys will be.
Those were the years when best friends talked on the phone for hours every night over something called princess phones. Land lines. Land lines are like ley lines of the human heart. Land lines lasted forever when things like telephones lasted forever didn’t they?
“bikinitowns” — copyright 2011 — all rights reserved
*author note on music
Here is a really great link that will show you the “healthy granola bars” we used to get in the 70’s at The Settlement! You can make them yourself and they will be much healthier for you! xxoo! ❤
What the feminist sisterhood was about was helping girls gain power to be strong and healthy. The best movie I have ever seen on that is called The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. My best friend Galio and I were just like those girls in the movie. I think I was like the one on the donkey? Yep. That was me. Which one do you identify with in that movie?