He didn’t look like the sort of person to make a life-long impression.
Older without being old. At the beach on his own. He had the appearance of a man who’d grazed in a decent paddock for some time.
He was wearing a terry-towelling hat, similar to the one Dad owned. And those tight, colourful bathers, popular at the time.
We were plonked just a few towels away. Pimply teenagers with ocean-bleached hair and cancerous tans. Back in the days when summer was spent in the surf, or on the sand.
He was paying no attention to us, and we wouldn’t have known he existed. Until that fateful, ear-splitting second.
Our coastline companion let one rip. Right there on the beach. A fart so loud it surely registered on a nearby Richter scale.
We all heard it. After quickly establishing that the guilty party wasn’t among us, we scanned the surrounding crowd. And found our man.
He sat, grinning. No attempt to hide it. And then a line that has stayed with me forever.
“I believe I trod on a frog”.
With that, four immature teenagers collapsed into fits of uncontrolled laughter. Tears ran down our cheeks. The cackling continued for an age.
All the while, our flatulent friend sat with a smile. He thought it was a hoot. Thankfully, he didn’t work up an encore.
It’s funny what you see at the beach. And what your hear. A smorgasbord for the senses.
Ever since, I’ve been acutely aware of what those are doing around me. No-one has come close to Farting Fred. But there are still sights and sounds to delight.
The girls and I spent Easter Sunday enjoying a rare Autumn dip. Along with a great many others. Such a lucky country.
Not so lucky, those international tourists who arrive for their day at the beach wearing Warwick Capper’s shorts. Usually in black or navy blue.
Someone is doing a roaring trade in Korea, selling these fashion atrocities. Where are the boys from Billabong when you need them?
What makes such attire worse, is when the offender strides onto the sand singing. Like the two happy blokes who wandered past us on the way to a swim outside the flags.
Loudly, too. They were obviously so excited about the bargain they scored on their new Korean short-shorts, that they just had to burst into tune. I didn’t recognise it, but it obviously made them happy.
So too, the young Aussie bloke who’d been buried in the sand by his mates. Up to his neck. They’d given him slender legs, and a most impressive set of breasts. Almost lifelike in fact. His girlfriend seemed less than impressed.
On our walk up the beach, we encountered two games of cricket. My favourite was the group using two upright thongs as stumps at the bowler’s end. Genius. You wouldn’t see that anywhere else in the world.
There are the non-swimmers, who stand on the edge, gazing at the waves. And the Whiteskins, who turn a bright orange before they get out of the car.
I particularly like the kids who run towards the ocean, dragging their boogie board, while kicking sand over anyone within fifty metres.
Their cousins would be the ones who gallop through the shallows, spraying icy cold water over those of us gently dipping a toe in.
But my favourites are the first timers. Tourists, and bushies, and the very young, making their beach debut.
It’s something special, to see that smile, and hear that excited scream, when the first wave crashes into them. Pure delight.
Next time you’re at the beach, keep an eye out for all of the above. Join in the fun. Make your own list. And listen out for any stray frogs.