ACT III, SCENE 1: “Each Other Now Embrace”

    “Let Nothing Ye Dismay” is fictional holiday tale. It tells the story of a group of Millenial 20-somethings trying to celebrate Christmas together, for the first time away from their parents, in a rented beach house. Various adventures, romantic and otherwise, ensue.

    Time: WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON

    “Dick’s.”

    “Pardon me?”

    “Dick’s. That place I was telling you about? It’s called Dick’s. Where we could go to dinner tonight.”

    Belinda Parsons shifted in her beach chair, pushed her sunglasses down her nose, and looked over them at the man whom, three days ago, she’d thought might be The One.

    “Dick’s. At Barefoot Landing.  That’s the one you mean?  You’re kidding, right?”

    thebeach

    “No, I’m serious,” Paul Flatley replied, staring out at the ocean with a wry smile. He turned to her: “A real anthropological expedition. See how Homo Southcarolinicus really lives.”

    Jeremy walked up from the water’s edge, where he’d been tossing a Frisbee with Scoot and Steffi:  “Dick’s, we’re going to Dick’s tonight? Cool. Dick’s is awesome.”

    ‘You would think that, Jeremy,” Belinda said.  “There’s plenty of other places at Barefoot we could go. Or closer.”

    Belinda definitely was the general of this Yuletide expedition of the Sad League of Losers, Outcasts and Misfits, planning it down to the last Scrabble game. But, every once in a while, she lost one.

    To everyone else, the legendarily raucous Myrtle Beach eatery “sounded like fun.”

    To Belinda, it sounded like hell. But the whole crew had gone on her “bike to the other end of the island” adventure that morning with minimal complaint – though their muscles were groaning loudly now as everyone sprawled on the wide beach under an unseasonably hot sun.

    Two hours later, after a round of showers and “shampoo, who’s got the shampoo,”  a group of seven clean, groomed and surprisingly tanned 20-somethings piled into two cars for the 45-minute jaunt south on Route 17. Their target: the cluster of themed restaurants, cutesy boutiques and cornpone entertainment known as Barefoot Landing.

    They got seated fairly swiftly at Dick’s. They descended a few stairs into a large room where they arrayed themselves on either side of a long, rectangular table. Wait staff plunked white paper dunce caps on their head, each with some kind of rude remark or risqué phrase scrawled on it in bright crayon.

    dicks

    Scoot’s said: “My Depends are bunching.”

    “I date sheep,” read Jeremy’s.

    “Can’t believe I’m here again,” said Belinda’s cousin Dan, veteran of many a buddy golf trip to Myrtle.

    “Oh, fun,” said Dan’s friend Carly.

    “Oh Lord,” said Belinda.

    “If only Thorstein Veblen could have lived to see Dick’s,” offered Paul.

    “Who?” asked Steffi.

    Their waitress sauntered up, a skinny young woman with a bullhorn voice and more tattoos than Dennis Rodman.

    “Want some slaw to start out?” she blared. “It’ll clean out the old colon, f’r sure.”

    She looked at Belinda: “Well, Miss I-Look-Like-Sandra-Bullock-on-a-Bad-Day, what’ll ya’ have ta drink?”  Insulting the patrons was part of the shtick at Dick’s.

    Wishing for a fire alarm, Belinda ordered a Bud Light.

    Dick’s ranked as the high point of Paul’s week so far, judging by his pealing laughter and the stream of sardonic remarks that had Carly, sitting next to him, in constant glee.

    Belinda picked at her rubbery clam strips and nursed her beer, plotting escape.

    By the time everyone else was ordering gooey desserts — and cheering Jeremy as he did a turn on the stage being mocked by the house band — she fled outside.

    Taking a right out Dick’s front door, she headed onto one of the walkways that crisscrossed the lake in the center of the complex.

    “Mom,” she said to one moonlit cloud in particular. “Remember when we stood here and Scoot and Jeremy and I wouldn’t leave because we wanted to keep feeding the carp, and you had to promise us ice cream to get us to leave? Mom, why aren’t you here?  How could you do that to Dad? Could you do that to Scoot and me? How could you?”

    If the cloud answered, it was too softly for Belinda to decipher. She walked back towards the rough hilarity of Dick’s.

    The bill had been paid; Jeremy had been thoroughly teased for his off-key rendition of Sweet Home Alabama up on the stage. Time to go.

    On the way back home in a quiet car with Paul, Belinda’s cell buzzed. Scoot, with a two-word text: The Mackerel!

    Next Scene: Stolen kisses, angry words.

    Look for it Tuesday afternoon.

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