A Christmas Tank-Top Miracle

There’s no other way to explain it: man and shirt reunited in a tale I call:

A Christmas Tank-Top Miracle or The Re-Gift of The Magi

It was a day not unlike the others around here. Big lunch of a cow’s foot, with assorted parts (I ask no questions) in its own gelee, rice and pwa, fried banann, salad.

I ate just a little more than necessary as always; then, as is also my habit, dragged my old carcass down the long, long, 50 yards to the Caribbean’s edge where I stripped off my green Brooks tank-top and the ancient Nike running shorts I call home. After placing them on a rocky outcropping, I plunged into the sea up to me be-grizzled neck.

For the next half hour, I bobbed; my mind, if anywhere, was 3000 miles away beyond the annoying cloudlessness of the sky, and the bone-absorbing warmth of the midday sun and sea. (My mother would never let us swim until an hour after lunch, claiming we’d get cramps and surely we’d drown. It’s taken me more than 50 years, but I’ve finally proved her wrong, wrong, wrong!)

When finally I came to and hoisted my scrawny, white ass up and out at the shoreline, first thing I noticed (even without my glasses) was that MY SHORTS AND SHIRT WERE GONE!!!

I looked everywhere (as if there was much of anywhere to look) but there was nothin’. The rocky outcropping was clean even though the waterline lapped seemingly too far away to have up and grabbed them.

Could someone have stolen my clothes? My beloved back in Seattle had written once playfully (I think) that she wished she could steal my pants while I was in the water, ala Tom Sawyer, but today, and yesterday and tomorrow, she is, and was and will be there, and me? I was and am, unequivocally, positively here. Alas.

And now: pants-less in paradise.

While swimming, I’d never really been that far away. I’d surely have seen someone come up. The beach had been empty as always. What’s more, the single set of tracks in the sand were mine… to the rocky outcropping, then to the water.

My steel-trap mind empirically concluded that no one had stolen my drawers. A rogue wave–a tsunami on the tiniest of scale–must have reached up, grabbed them, and pulled them to their watery grave. The sea had conspired against me and the rocky outcropping had let me down.

Mon dieu! My mind pictured the dash of shame I must now make through the guesthouse courtyard holding a largish white rock over my “areas,” my bare butt on display to the help.

I’d be hearing the laughter and the retelling for a week.

But then my eye was drawn to a dash of bright red buried in the sand just north of the rocky outcropping. My pants, o thank god, my pants!

I would have hated losing those nasty old black running shorts in which I’d spent so many months sitting around on summers’ days in the Northwest, and winters’ nights in clement climes. Wearing them, I’d embarrassed my son in Goa, finished last in a half marathon in Seattle, been thrown out of a cathedral in Palermo. They glisten with so much garlic butter, Sicilians at first glance thought I was one of them.

They always fit with their forgiving elastic and I believed for the longest time they made me look sexy… until about two years ago when I accidentally caught a look at myself in a car door reflection. I still wear them of course, but study now to avoid reflections (or reflection).

Now I love them because they’re familiar; I dread the day, as with my aged cat, I’ll have to put them down.

I slipped into my miraculously recovered shorts feeling relieved as you do when you hear that lost children were found safe and sound at their grandma’s house.

But the green shirt, it was goners. I don’t have an emotional connection with it but if you only have three shirts, and you lose one, it’s a bummer.

Shirtless, I trod back up the long, long 50 yards to my text and my dreary life out of the water.

Later, I was dozing away, sweating profusely, visions of erogenous zones dancing in my head, and there rose such a clatter, I awoke to find at the doorstep, Elie the hotelier holding–o miracle of miracles–my tank top!

Like a baby set gently down by a hurricane, or a wedding ring recovered in a trout, he’d spotted my shirt drifting greenly near the surface of the vast ocean as he took his afternoon swim.

It was so bereft of natural fibers it sat on the top of the water like a Portuguese Man O’ War, The odds that it was Elie who found it, and not a passing freighter, were staggering.

I ruled out coincidence and scientific probabilities right away. Hell, it’s Christmastime! It’s a miracle!

I’m wearing both of these proudly as I write. Gotta say it: my faith in miracles–at nearly zero before–has redoubled.

In light of this, I’ve made a spiritual commitment to match my socks, eschew oversplaining and runaway ellipses, and, of course, shoot ever higher for the perfect rocky outcropping.

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