I am happily married. My pal Deanne Bauer is happily divorced. This is the story of how we came to fixate on a mystery man called Colonel Lobster — a middle-aged, sunburned Adonis who lifeguards on a Florida beach.
He also sells ice cream and plastic inflatables. Read on for all the gory details.
“I will never fall in love again,” Deanne told me and our mutual friend, Lydia Kachigian, on a recent girls’ trip to Sarasota. At the time, we were lying ocean side, sipping Diet Cokes and taking in the view.
“Look around you. That’s what’s out there,” Deanne said, as an old man in flippers shuffled by.
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“Somebody loves him,” I told her, somberly.
Minutes earlier, I had observed a silver-haired lady slather him with sunscreen. She took special care with the top of his bald head.
“All the good ones are taken,” Deanne mused. “The rest are loaded with baggage and I don’t mean the kind you take to the airport.”
As Deanne talked, Lydia and I scanned the beach for a man who might tempt her. We eventually gave up and went back to our magazines.
That would have been the end of it — if Deanne hadn’t gone for a walk.
She came back skipping with a goofy grin on her face. Just when she had given up on love, my cynical friend had crossed paths with a hunk. She didn’t talk to him, just admired him from a distance. But from that distance, she discerned a lot.
“I think he’s retired military,” she said, adding he now served as the beach’s lifeguard. “He has perfect posture and a precision buzz cut. He’s all bright red from the sun and his upper body is really muscular.”
A bright red military man with muscular forearms? I dubbed him Colonel Lobster and took note as Deanne shared more details. Southern drawl. Six pack abs. Extremely polite when dealing with the public.
“A young mother wanted ice cream for her child,” Deanne said, “but the beach shack that sells ice cream was closed. He hopped right down from his lifeguard stand and opened it up for her. The same store also sells umbrellas and ocean-worthy inflatables.”
After some discussion, we decided Colonel Lobster must manage the whole beach. No wonder Deanne had the hots for him. His work ethic was as taut as his abs.
“Do you want me to find out if he’s married?” I asked.
“How will you do that?”
“Just leave it to me.”
I found him working behind the concession stand: No ring on his finger. But two through each earlobe.
“He does a great job selling hot dogs,” I reported back and watched as Deanne shook her head.
“Hot dogs? You went to the concession stand,” she groaned. “I told you Colonel Lobster sells ice cream and inflatables. NOT hot dogs. The guy at the concession stand is a sleaze ball!”
At that point, Lydia was laughing so hard she sprayed Diet Coke out her nose.
So back I went to the proper shack but, alas, the “Closed” sign was out. Colonel Lobster, or whomever the heck he was, had packed up his floaties and vamoosed.
That would have been the end of it — if not for the fact middle-aged women act like teenagers while on vacation. For the rest of our trip, Deanne, Lydia and I fantasized about Colonel Lobster. Over pizza at an outdoor café, we made a pact we would find him again. He and Deanne would exchange vows on the beach, and Lyd and I would serve as her co-matrons of honor.
Of course, fantasy is often better than reality. If we had found Colonel Lobster, he might have been a criminal or a beach bum, or both. Having not found him, he is elevated to Mystery Man status — which makes us want to track him down even more.
We are planning another girls’ trip to Sarasota this fall. Stay tuned to see if Deanne gets her “claws” into him.