Bastille Day. Izzy is hitch-hiking to work and gets picked up by a hippie smoking a joint in a 1960 VW, listening to Bob Dylan complain about Maggie’s Farm. He throws the roach out the window and would have gladly accepted a bumper sticker if Izzy had had one with him.
Later in the day, Izzy defends the honor of fair Juliana by running naked through the woods on a Sunday afternoon to chase down two pre-teen punks who have run off with their clothes. But first, he has to invite her to go skinny dipping.
“Do you want to go in?” I asked.
“I don’t have a bathing suit,” she answered.
“We don’t need them today. It’s Bastille Day,” I said, pulling the tee shirt over my head and unbuttoning my shorts. “The day of glory has arrived,” I sang.
And then I was standing naked beside her, more than a little surprised by my revolutionary spirit, feeling the July sunlight and the warm breath of the woods and the algae and the rocks holding the slow-creeping water in front of us. I didn’t know whether she would follow, but I understood that having made the invitation I had to give her as much time as she needed to respond.
I am certain that I had a quite ridiculous look on my face while I waited for her to decide, hanging out there, as it were. She looked me over slyly, unable to suppress a smile. I committed to not looking away from her face.
“You are going to have to go in the water and look the other way,” she said, fingering the top button on her blouse.
That was all the direction I needed. I turned and walked down the rock as it submerged into the still creek, gathering a veneer of moss as it went deeper, open fissures along the way, the occasional rogue outcropping, and only the vaguest sense of a current sliding incrementally toward the next lock that marked the gravitational bottom of the pool, a languid, summery chunk of Pennsylvania hung up on its way through the woods. I found the edge of the rock shelf a little over waist deep and crouched down until my chin was in the water, then slowly pushed upstream for a few easy strokes in the shallow water, not wanting to put too much distance between us. Then I turned back.
She was already in the water, crouched down to her shoulders in the deepest part of the creek. I drifted toward her as though the current alone was pulling me. She had an expectant and confident look, watching me carefully as I stood, waist-deep, and walked across the slippery and sloping slab.