When Kevin first kissed me on the Hermosa Beach Pier, I gagged. It’s not you, I said. But it was him. That he chose to kiss me on a stretch of wood jutting into the Pacific that smelled of dead white croaker and chum was his fault. From that point on, and as much as I fight it, dead white croaker and Kevin kind of go hand in hand, which is not what you want in a boyfriend, or even a pier.
Kevin grew up with older parents who convinced him, though not intentionally, that the world longs for his patronage. So he tends to overdo everything. He hugs way too long. He drives me everywhere and waits for hours.
He also takes leave from the bakery where he works and paints murals in my apartment. It was quirky the first time, and I admit I like the beluga whale bubbling its way across my bathroom. But now he constantly paints sea life on my walls. Harp seals. Sea turtles. Sandpipers. Puffins. My apartment looks like an oceanographer’s wet dream.
Once a month, Kevin masterfully builds a farm-to-table dinner for me on a hill in the common area behind my apartment. He drags my patio table and chairs to a perch that overlooks the complex. It’s not Aspen, but if the sun bends around the ridge, and the smog traipses up the valley, a person could learn to appreciate Kevin’s enterprise. Until the main course: white croaker.