Holiday Characters – The Browning Cycle – Episode 2

Having just returned from a week in Italy with my daughter, I have another week’s worth of observations from my sun bed…..

The man was tallish and very thin. A skinny skeleton in fact. He stood at the water line surveying the water in his old fashioned pink trunks pulled up to somewhere around his lower chest so that his junk hung out either side. Deni found this funny as most 12-year olds might. He held in his hand a 1980’s era music player which blurted out 1980’s pop music. He moved from side-to-side in an awkward and abrupt sort of way with the beat. It was very Mr. Bean-like. The name stuck.

We followed Mr. Bean for several days. He would arrive at the beach and rent a sun bed. Then using his towel to partially cover himself, he would change into his pink swimsuit and then wander down to the sea line and stare for many minutes all the time moving in Mr. Bean-like movements to his 80-‘s beat.  Then, he would return to his bed, deposit the music player and enter the water for a swim with his green head cap in hand. As soon as he made it to about waist height, on came the green cap and off he went about 20 meters in to the ocean with a choppy swim stroke before returning to the beach to reverse the entire process.

The resemblance to Mr. Bean was actually uncanny. His face, expressions, movements and general disposition – alone and plainly mostly alone – mumbling to himself all the while. All were pure Bean. To be honest, I found myself watching him a lot as he was comical in a sad sort of lonely way. Watching him change with his towel was also Bean-like as his underwear – whitish and old-fashioned – although clean was shall we say, well used, and bore the stains and marks to prove it.

Mr. Bean was not a happy man it seemed. He deliberately engineered short arguments with the life guard and the management of the private beach shouting do you think I’m stupid? in Italian. Trying to gain entry to a private beach without paying and then laying your towel, belongings and so on on the beach right by the ocean in a very deliberate and Mr.Bean-like manner in front of the life guard really isn’t smart.

While Mr. Bean kept us occupied, he wasn’t the only character on our bit of beach. Nope.

There was a skinny couple most days as well. The woman we ended up calling Ms. Touch Bottom because she constantly re-arranged the derriere of her skimpy costume. There was nothing attractive about this as Ms. Touch Bottom was also skeletal, smoked pot all day and constantly fell out with her boyfriend. The boyfriend we named “London” because any interaction with him this was the word he would say – London??? He was drunk by lunchtime most days consuming bottle after bottle of beer often laying in the shallows of the sea. He too was very thin and neither looked well. I don’t know what he was saying but his voice was like a scowl and many on the beach were drawn to stare disapprovingly at him. My guess is that he was swearing like a trooper.

Towards the end of our stay, another couple appeared. She was also skeletal in build and extremely tanned. Her husband was a more normal size and he ignored her pretty much all day. She lay on the sun bed chatting on her phone all day occasionally casting a sneer in our direction especially when Deni ran by and splashed a little sand. We also kept running into them in town. She looking at shoes and him looking in the opposite direction.

It’s funny how many characters you see if you look. How many people who sit in the exactly the same place each day on the beach for a week before going back home. We did. I wonder what stories they are telling about us?

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