A key word used to describe all the weird news stories related to white
Florida men [and] why people outside Florida hate Florida.
He fell in love here as a boy in 1961. She looked to be the
same age, a first grader like him in that courtyard shared by
other rented cottages of coral pink blocks. Families of complete
strangers gathered outside during the cool evenings.
They kept to themselves at their respective picnic tables. He
took sidelong glances like small blurs of glass now held up to
no less sidelong to the sun. These he mentally arranges and
she still comes out the same: sitting bareback, straddled
across her father’s sunburnt knee. She gave no thought to
covering herself at that age. She would have lost her balance
if she did otherwise, lost her red pony, her merry-go-round
ride, the sight of her, which has remained that way in time.
(How long it took to spell the words she cried as she dug her
heels into a hairy leg. Allez hue!) He has been in love ever
since and always in side and stolen glances. Now it is one tan
line after another, unstrung along the beach before killing his
merciless idea by staring at his own: a pale white band
around his wrist, where a valuable had been worn, something
that he mindfully left behind in his room before taking another
walk on the hot sand or wading out into the surf, deciding
between here, her, or any of the other flavors there are
now. He admires how the band never fills in, that it remains
a fixed, apart, the Gulf, all around, that it is “timeless,” and
that it only means he will go back to the room and self-wind
it with a certain pleasure, and he will get the whole day back.