Friday, October 24, 2008

A week in Hell

Beth and I went to Bowman's beach a few days ago and this young woman sat down in a large pile of shells right behind us to start playing.  Sanibel has truckloads of shells washed up on shore every day.  There are more than anyone could imagine.  This island is known as a shell collector's mecca.

This woman was thrilled with the shells.  I commented to Beth that she reminded me of a teeny bopper sitting on the floor with all of her 45's strewn around her.  Beth said that she agreed, that woman DID look like little Bethy did at thirteen years old.

I went off into the water to collect some Lightning Welks, Lettered Olives, Flame Augers, and Lace Murex.  During my hunting expedition the couple behind Beth left the beach.  Beth said that the woman didn't want to go, but the guy left for the car and she eventually followed.

Five hours later Leslie, Beth, and I were walking along our beach when I noticed a pretty thin woman with little shorts standing at the edge of the surf excitedly cupping two hands worth of shells and letting the sand and water fall out while wiggling her fingers to filter the "perfect shell" from the rest.  It is a common technique around here.  
There is the "Sanibel Stoop" which is walking along with your head hanging forward scanning the sand and holding a plastic supermarket bag in one hand.  People are in such a trance looking at the dazzling array of shells under their feet that we have seen porpoises swimming right offshore from a "sheller" and they never even notice.
There are the petite collectors, that walk with a black plastic bag from a jewelry store and only select the finest of the finest.
I myself use the harvesting technique.  My pockets bulge out like the cheeks of a chipmunk from all of the shells that Beth and I put in them.  They get  sorted later.
This excited young woman was using the "lift and filter" technique.  If you stand in one spot, enough shells are removed and deposited at your feet with every wave that you can bend over and pick up another fresh batch every ten seconds or so.
This woman was going to check out every batch.  She seemed a little too excited.
She would jump up and down while waiting for the shells to expose themselves, then she would dump out what was left in her hands and scoop up another batch, hold them up at eye level and bounce in anticipation.
Her guy was trying to distract her so that they could move on.  It wasn't going to happen.
She was going to be planted there until the ocean stopped giving her shells.
If he tried to get too close to her to convince her to move on, she would move her arms out in the universal "keep away, I am busy" sign language, and then bend over and scoop.  She would attempt to get him to help find "the perfect shell" and he would look around a little and then go back to staring at the horizon.  This was a busy day on the beach so there were people walking by finishing up their beach combing before the spectacular sunset would signal the official end of shelling for the day.  This guy was going to be there for a while.
When I went by him the second time he was staring at the horizon and clenching his teeth.  He did not seem like he was having a good time at all.  The waves were splashing his knees while his very cute lady was almost hysterical at the joy of shell shopping.

Don't ever ever bring your O.C.D. girlfriend/wife to a beach that is known for shelling.

Much later as the sun was going down, you could see her silhouette far away, bending over, hold em' up, bending over.
Can you imagine him describing his vacation to people at work when they ask if he had a good time?  "Yeah everything was fine until she found the freakin' shells!"  
"All week long, those freeeeeakin' shells!"

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