The Browning Cycle

Confused, you watch the others to see how it is done. After all, they are now all old hands at everything here. Tanned, comfortable and relaxed, the other guests seem almost brash in their state of relaxation. It’s hard not to contrast that with our own state of Lilly-whiteness and awkwardness, and of course we do, casting admiring glances at the other guests and commenting about them in hushed tones to each other.

It’s a mixed bunch. There is the woman who is not just remarkably tanned but very evenly tanned to boot. She moves like a Queen with her head held high and shoulders back as if gliding a catwalk and everything she does is performed with a willful grace and poise that probably hides a deep lack of self confidence. Like a bronzed narcissist, she sits holding her phone apparently seeking a good picture but in reality, she is simply examining her own appearance in selfie mode. Her husband or lover seems a normal sort and drinks his cold beer in silence ignoring his wife’s antics.

The American family is wiry and deeply tanned. Typical California without an ounce of fat between them, they place fitness above all else and are almost certainly vegetarians or certainly low fat eaters. They talk loudly among themselves in that distinct crisp California accent oblivious to the presence of others in the Hotel bar. Their talk is all of comparisons and a love for all things Croatian or European. They are wanna be Europeans earning a living on the west coast.

We look at each other and smile. Pretty soon we have code for our fellow quests. The Actress. The Americans. And other such names. We finish our breakfast and go back to our room to don swimwear and copious amounts of factor 50 sun cream. Among the bronzed elites of the Villa Barroni guest club, it wouldn’t pay to burn!

That was just over a week ago. Since then, we watched the Actress and her husband closely. They fought. She cried but hid the tears behind her large sunglasses and then they spent time separated – she by the sea and he by the pool. The Americans were long gone and indeed had left that very day that we met them replaced by an assortment of Croatians, Germans, Hungarians and Italians.

We had gotten to know the comings and goings of the Croatian family – a youngish looking couple with dark hair and complexions, but strangely enough – no tan! and their small daughter who would be lovingly scooped up whenever she got more than 1 meter away. The mother looked angry a lot. Her partner looked resigned to that. Sometimes however, they frolicked like young lovers in the silky Adriatic as their tiny daughter slept. There was still something magical between them despite the recent arrival of their small bundle of joy.

Then there was the odd couple. They seemed young – perhaps in their late twenties and were likely German. He had dark hair and a beard supplemented by purple nose ring hanging like a loose body part or perhaps colored snot, from his nose. His body was a mass of nipple rings, piercings and goodnessknows what else piercings! She was taller, had died her hair gray and blue which was odd enough but it was also shaved to a certain apparently arbitrary point on her head and then fell lank and loose onto her shoulders. She too had piercings aplenty apparently randomly distributed about her body. They kept themselves to themselves talking in whispers with each other and occasionally floating in the small waves on two airbeds.

The Hungarian family were dominated by two large matriarchal figures of indeterminate age and shape who perpetually scowled at everything and everyone muttering under their breaths. They glared at everyone in a way that conjured up images of witchcraft. Three generations strong, the two teenage daughters wore string bathing suits that showed off their behinds. This seemed rather odd to us as both were under the age of 16 and spent much of their time with their father. The entire family seemed to believe that they could say exactly what they wanted as no one else understood Hungarian – they were wrong as my partner does and indeed is Hungarian. She explained that they dissed everyone and described their speech as callous, rough and rude. She told me how finding the two of us having the audacity to use the pool, they had remarked that these ‘horrid people ought to know better than to use their pool.’

It seemed to us watching the coming and going of the guests, that we found ourselves in a mini version of the World. Each and every archetype was represented it seemed.

Of course, by now, we had realized that we were the tanned and relaxed ones content with the place and the slow passing of time in the heat of the sun. It was now us who knew the timings and comings and goings of the Hotel staff, who knew how to get the best table for dinner and best sun beds. It was we who had the rapport with the staff such that we did not even have to ask but apparently communicated with them via thought only. It was we that were leaving…..

And as we watched the delicately pale Lithuanians that arrived to take our place nervously seek out sun beds, we smiled at each other and marveled at how all things are cyclic. Even holidays.


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