I was at the beach a few weeks ago, when I decided to go and
buy some ice-creams for Kat and I.
I have to admit, I have always been very enthusiastic about
ice-cream. After I discovered salted caramel flavour, I was
so excited I could not sleep for three weeks, so it was with
a certain joy in my heart that I hopped across the boiling
Maltese-summer-sand, scorching the bottoms of my feet in
the process (because real men don’t wear flip flops, and get
excited by exotic ice-cream flavours. Right?)
Anyway, once I got to the kiosk, all the burns were instantly
forgotten, because they were selling strawberry cheesecake-
flavoured ice-cream!
Not just strawberry. Not just cheesecake. But strawberry

I was stunned – almost to the point of tears at just how far
human civilisation had come. This is what it must have felt
like when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.
Ice-cream man explained to me that I would have to wait
three or four minutes to be served, because he needed to
get more cones from the store at the back, but I was happy
to wait. Of course I was. I was about to taste the future.
It was whilst I was waiting that I noticed a man staring at me. A
big, muscular man.
Now, of course, people have stared at me before. You do not
wear a mankini at the theatre if you don’t want to be looked at.
(On stage, that is. I don’t just randomly pop into the globe to
watch “Hamlet” whilst impersonating Borat.)
But staring is rude. And to make matters worse, this man was
not even following the basic rules of rudely staring at someone.
(I.E. turning away when the person notices that you are looking
at them in a vain attempt to pretend that you were not, in fact
looking at them.)
When I looked at him, he just kept on looking back. He didn’t
even flinch.
My mind was racing. Why did he not look away? Then it hit
me. Maybe he was so taken aback by the idea of strawberry
cheesecake ice-cream that he forgot the basic rules of social
engagement. That must be it!
I decided to give him another go. If I looked away, he would
realise that he should look away too. Simple.
So that is what I did. I looked away. And then I looked back.
Expecting to see him looking at something else.
But he had not even moved a muscle (and he had plenty of those
to move). He was still gaping at me. Gawking. Oogling.
Now I started to get scared.
Why was he looking? What did he want? Had I done something in
the past to anger him (apparently there are a lot of people who I
have inadvertently upset before, they have even got a Facebook
group.) But if he knew me, surely, I would remember him. (I
might not have a Facebook group but I keep a notebook)
Nah. He did not look familiar at all.
But If that was the case, why was he still looking at me? With a
look that by now could be fairly described as a glare.
Oh dear.
Was it my swimming shorts? Was it my hairy back? Was it the
smell of burning flesh from the bottom of my feet?
And then, just as the panic within me was rising. Just as I started
considering leaving the strawberry-cheesecake cone for
another day, just as I was about to get on my knees to ask for
forgiveness for whatever it was I had done, he opened his mouth
and he screamed one word.

I was very confused. So much so that I started staring at him.
And then he said;
“Do you mind moving your head out the way? I’m trying to watch
the football”.
And then it hit me. The man was not looking at me. He was
looking at the screen. Which was right behind my head!
It was at this moment that my cone finally turned up. I quickly
grabbed it and turned to go, eager to get out of this very big and
scary man’s way.
However, because I was rushing so much, at that very moment
my ice-cream slid out my hand.
In a desperate attempt to save it, I launched into a dive, worthy
of an Olympic gold.
And miraculously, I caught it.
The only problem is that whilst diving acrobatically, a flailing leg
got caught in the TV’s wire ripping it from the plug and somehow
causing the ‘salva vita’ to trip.
And because I had literally torn the TV’s power chord with my
foot, it meant that even though there was almost a full half
of the game left, for everyone watching, the match ended
And then they all turned to stare at me.
“Anyone want any ice-cream?” I offered.

Steve Hili 

© 2018 – VIDA Magazine