The lounge chair/umbrella guardiens. That's who. I'm a devoted people watcher; these guys are "the show." When "on point," they position at the waist-high wall that separates sand and boardwalk. They use a severe and sweeping hand gesture (that says, "Lookatthisbeautifulsetuphereforyou") to attack the peripheral vision and capture the attention of potential beachgoers strolling the boardwalk. They'll also verbalize, peppering the pedestrians with the standard, "Bonjour; Ola; Hello; Two people? Very nice; Good Price." But they're easygoing - not too obtrusive or harassing. On the tout-scale, they register very mellow. Once they've fished a customer out of the passing stream, negotiations are cleverly-handled as an afterthought, after customers have been shown to what I've come to regard, through the guardien's eyes, as stations. After bags have been set down, after cushions have been plumped and after umbrellas have been angled to their shadiest degree, 50 dirhams is the often-quoted starting price. As to what price is possible after haggling, I'm not sure, for my highly-developed voyeur skills are left out of the more hushed-tone proceedings.
These cabana boys have impressive bodies: suntanned and buff - really ripped. A cabana boy doesn't go ten minutes without dropping to the sand for a set of push-ups or crunches. I've seen creative versions of these classic resistance exercises that are brand new to me. I steal them. Occasionally, a serious bodybuilder friend to the "boys" hangs out and shows them new exercises that I think could all be classified as isometrics. He was the first to show them a set of handstand push-ups. (Nobody else has been successful yet.) I saw him give an entire clinic of drills utilizing the lifeguard stand: each movement building upon the last, climaxing in quasi-levitation. The friend is very short but almost as wide as he is tall. He wears a djellaba which I think he enjoys taking on and off for his demonstrations on the beach - life the sheathing and unsheathing of a knife. I enjoy the show too. When the boys intermingle, talk and attention always centers around developing bodies. This I can gather from a distance: the flexing, obvious assessing, playful abdomen striking and feats of strength.
The cabana boy takes on subcontractors. Littler boys. When "the boys" want to socialize, flirt, exercise, smoke hashish, or generally leave their posts, they employ very young kids to assume the position at the boardwalk edge and drum up business. They are much crasser and less polished (less interested, less at stake) with the passersby than a knowledgeable cabana boy, wrongly employing the aggression of a shop owner within the medina walls. If they collect money, they immediately run the profits over to the senior executive. If they cabana boy is between sets, he will shell out a commission. The young ones do push-ups too, but need years to beef up their skinny frames.
The cabana boy has assumed the style of a surfer. On bigger swells, there is a wave right in front of their domain. Smaller swells break a kilometer down the beach at a more strategic and shifting sandbar, in the middle and at the shallowest point of this crescent bay. Higher quality surf is littered up and down the coastline. But these are not surfers. I can tell. The majority of them are way too beefy for surfers = loss of flexibility. They are swollen up in all the wrong places to be surfers - all biceps and pectorals. No matter, they have assumed the style and swagger of surfers - no one's judging. They all wear surf baggies pulled low, exposing name-brand underwear (one read, "Gavin Klein")(also, not a surfer trait - at least not of the soul surfer). The majority sport shoulder length sun-bleached hair, kinked and natty. They don't wear shirts: their tanned torsos shrug off the sun and their musculature is like body armor. Who needs a shirt? The shakas they throw at each other are more versatile than a Westerner's use of "dude." The boys resemble each other so closely they could almost be interchangeable - whittled aesthetically from the elements.
The cabana boys are flirtatious. Surrounded by sunbathing European hotties in bikinis, who could blame them? I'm sure that's the reason for their dedication to fitness, hell, I'm a believer in the notion that that is why anybody does anything. Always quick to help reposition a lounge chair, shake sand out of a towel, or adjust an umbrella position in their station, but watch them l i n g e r at a station that includes scandalous beachwear. I watched one dance with the miniature poodle of a Dutch (?) mom and daughter team today. He waited till the daughter had her beach cover-up off, then went over, lifted the dog's front paws off the ground and spun like a whirling dervish. I think he charmed all three of them. I give way too much thought to how often these guys are pulling foreign chicks. I haven't seen evidence of it (and I've looked - a lot), but I'm sure they score.
I have a real soft spot for these guys. They're always smiling and joking around. They work at the beach! The parking lot "guardiens" are extortionists that provide an illusory service, protecting you (your car) from themselves - like the mafia. The cabana boys charge for a legitimate product: a soft seat for your fat ass and shade from the sun. If I ever come back to this earth as an employable wage-earning Esso local, somebody please direct me through the parking lot and out to the beach.
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