Dear Watermelon Man,
I first notice you as you rise from your awkward position on the beach, sprawled on the sandy wasteland between the two sunloungers occupied by your wife and teenage daughter. I immediately reel at your watermelon-bedecked swim shorts*, their frivolous design incongruous with the solemnity with which you carry yourself. I spot your wife’s complementary pineapple dress and all becomes clear – you are clothed by her.
Looking harried you storm off for a short while, returning with your family’s water supply, with not so much as a word of thanks or even acknowledgment from the women in your life, who greedily slug down the cool, life-giving nectar.
You catch my eye as I pop open my can of beer whilst cradling the baby. At first I wonder if it’s judgment in your eyes, but as I watch you for longer, I realise it’s sadness. I can’t fail to notice the melancholy you carry about your person. Even my husband, the worst people-watcher ever**, picks up on it. You move slowly, with your head lowered and by the end of the day I realise that tragically I haven’t seen you smile or be smiled at once.
At some point during the afternoon your wife and daughter disappear together and return more than an hour later. You don’t use either sunlounger during their absence, though you squirm uncomfortably on the scorching sand. Know your place, loyal hound. The only words which escape your mouth all day drift off emptily into the light sea breeze, ‘Next time I think I’ll treat myself to a sunlounger’. I was listening, Watermelon Man, even if your family wasn’t.
Later when we’re dining at a seafront restaurant, I notice you sat alone on a wall holding bags. The bin next to you fails to cast any shade in your direction and you squint, exposed to the full glare of the sun. The timing coincides with the FA cup final, not a football fan, Watermelon Man? Your wife returns some time later. I witness a passionless altercation. You pass her your wallet and she’s gone again leaving you on your lonely post. Heel boy. When at last the shoppers return, silently they pass you their bounty and off you walk, their packhorse, faithful to the end.
Perhaps I’ve caught you on a bad day in an otherwise reasonably content marriage. Maybe your wife is recovering from illness, or has just discovered your affair. It could be that you’ve simply been a bit of an arse to her and deserve to be shut out temporarily. Perhaps you hold tight control over the purse-strings, rarely allowing her access. It could have even been your decision not to pay for a third sunlounger, preferring the hit to your body rather than bank balance. Or maybe you’ve had a disturbing premonition of a future Tory government bedding down with the DUP.
I guess I’ll never know the reason for your nebulous gloom or why you accept this behaviour towards you so passively. Of course none of this is any of my business, the curious onlooker. Yet I vow to think of you everytime I eat watermelon henceforth. I only hope that if you’re unhappy or feeling trapped, you’re able to find the courage to stand up for yourself one day. Or as my husband puts it so eloquently, ‘Grow a pair of watermelons’.
Stay-at-home Socrates, concerned
*Available to purchase at H&M, in-store and online.
**His worst fault, other than 148 decibel sneezes. Only 2 decibels quieter than the F-18 Fighter Jet that appeared from nowhere 3 metres above our heads as we picnicked at a mountain top a few days earlier. As I felt my heart stop and leap from my ribcage, I genuinely thought my time was up. Though I’ve always thought Pascal’s Wager was quite a pragmatic and sensible rationale for belief in God, I did not have time to adopt faith of any form when death seemed imminent. Instead I assumed the brace position and pleaded internally for a quick and painless demise.