In-n-Out Beach Burger

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Today I had a chance to leave the City and visit Isla Grande beach off the coast of Colon for the first time. Since my downstairs neighbors Don and Gloria were taking their granddaughter and 2 other family members, I decided to tag along. For additional fun, I invited nephews Stuart and Rueben who are visiting from San Diego.

After a bit of a late start, we drive about an hour and stop first in Portabelo. We pop into a church, where parishioners are attending Sunday services, to see the famous life-sized effigy of the Nazareno of Portobelo, better known as the Black Christ. Town members have been caring for and adorning this statute since the 17th Century. Pretty cool. As we continue walking through town we pass a house with a rather large monkey chained to the front balcony. Turns out I’m kind of a sucker for monkeys — and hope to have one of my very own one day — so I stop and try to make friends with Chalisco. He’s nice enough a first, but our friendship is a short one. Once I get up the courage to touch him and shake his very human-like little hand, he steals my bracelet. The owner’s friend tries to get it back for me but fails. Luckily, it’s a cheepy accessory from Forever 21 so I’m happy to let Chalisco keep it as a toy.

Next we drive another hour, leave our cars and take a power boat ride to the island. Three hours past our departure time, we finally arrive at the beach! Nephews and I take an extra 15 minutes place a to-go order of Corvina y patacones. I’m eager to bathe in the warm Atlantic water so I quickly eat part of my fried fish meal and save the rest for later. “I’m heading in,” I say to my nephews as I leave them behind; I’m tired of waiting so I cruise on ahead across the sand.After a few minutes, Stuart joins me and then Reuben. We swim around on our own and then meet up with the others. When I decide to take a rest in the sun, I march out of the water to our table on the beach, leaving the entire group behind. After a short rest, I head back in, swim around a bit more and then decide to get out again. This time, as I emerge from the water, Gloria approaches me. “Is that how your suit is designed?” she asks. I don’t know what she’s talking about and thinks she’s simply trying to tell me my tag is sticking out. To my total embarrassment, she is NOT referring to my tag but to a giant tear in swimsuit bottom. As I feel around, I can tell there’s a huge whole, about 6 inches long, plenty big for everyone else on the beach to see, including my nephews and the group of 6 hanging out on the beach right next to us. “Oh my god! Why didn’t any tell me before?” I shriek as I hold the whole closed with one hand and dig through my bag for my shorts with the other. Stuart runs up to me as I hide behind a tree to avoid further embarrassment. In a hush voice he tells me and Reuben noticed the whole when I first headed into the water after lunch – like a full hour before. Their conversation included the following statements: 1) Is her suit supposed to be like that? 2) Should we tell her? 3) No, of course she knows. How could she not know? 4) Maybe that’s the style. 5) Aunt Laura is bold. 6) Yeah, but if it were in the front, I don’t think we could hang out with Aunt Laura anymore.

No, Gloria was not the first to notice — she was just the first to let me know that my crack was on display. I could have been wearing a thong and experienced less embarrassment; an out burger is more acceptable than being able to peek at one’s in burger any day.

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