It's a broiling Saturday afternoon. Lake Calhoun is thick with posers, Lifetime Fitness members scrambling to enhance their single-digit percent body fat with melanin frosting as the calendar marches toward the autumnal Armageddon.
Not far away, at least geographically, yet worlds removed in vibe, a lone wolf attempts to snooze.
A Carl Spackler-like assistant greens keeper hat covers most of his face. His only garb is a pair of forest green trunks likely purchased from REI or Gander Mountain.
Before R.E.M. sleep can kick in, he's interrupted. The gentle waves lap against his translucent blue dingy at a location somewhere inside the City of Lakes he has no desire to share.
He is a Spartan. He is a man of leisure. He is Beach Guy.
Beach Guy is a man of mystery and he'd prefer to keep it that way. It only takes a few questions to discover he's none too hip on talking about himself.
This is what's known:
He puts Leonidas' eight pack to shame. His tan is so many shades richer than David Hasselhoff's even when the Baywatch star was at the top of his game. To the envious observer, who's left wishing we only could be, Beach Guy lives life as if he's got it all figured out.
Every day when the sun shines Beach Guy can be seen unpacking his late-model Detroit station wagon. He arrives at his go-to spot around mid-morning. Nourishment comes first, usually in the form of a banana. He scopes the landscape, looking for that primo place to set up shop. Once he's eyed the day's base camp, Beach Guy offloads his wares. A kayak that fittingly matches the color of his shorts. The dingy. A backpack of goodies that might contain trail mix, a newspaper, a book, and plenty of hydration.
He talks to no one. Beach Guy flies solo.
For the next 10 to 12 hours, the Minneapolis lake is Beach Guy's watery playground. At any given time on any random day — he's here at least four days a week, more if the weather cooperates — Beach Guy is seen cutting a wake with flawless strokes in his kayak, asleep and floating in the middle of the lake, enjoying one of the day's many naps, or self-improving beachside with a book so thick it's a P90X workout just opening the thing.
Beach Guy found this real estate of paradise five years ago. Every agreeable summer day since, he pilgrimaged here to just be. That's what this spot affords him: peace. He wants to be nowhere else. A middle-aged fellow, he's too wise and too seasoned to aspire to Lake Calhoun hipness and be another of the contestants bucking to be cool.
"No matter how many people are here," he says, "it's never crazy. People are chilled out and respectful, and I can spend my days doing absolutely nothing and enjoying every minute of it."
But Beach Guy is like the rest of us, after all. He works for a local school district. This life of fabulous will all end soon.
"Only a few more days left," he says. "I don't know how many exactly. I don't like to think about it. But come next summer, I'll be back. You can count on it."