Michele Drake stands near the shore line of Venice Beach in California, her faded jeans rolled up to her knees, her long blonde hair rising gently with the breeze, her bright-red Hawaiian shirt fluttering against her body; she doesn't seem to have anyting on underneath. Michele skims a stone off the crest of a wave and, eyes gilttering with the reflection of the warm California sun, clears a strand of hair from her face. "The beach is the best place for me to think," she says, skimming another pebble. "Believe it or not, I'm a native Californian, born in La Jolla in a hospital by the beach. I'm what you might call your basic California girl, as basic as they come." A station wagon pulls up in the lot and a lone surfer, carrying a polished red surfboard, heads toward the water. Michele watches nostalgically. "There was a big surfer scene when I went to high school," she says. "Everybody wore Hawaiian shirts and if the girls didn't have blonde hair, they'd bleach it. I was into body surfing, but my boyfriend was a great surfer. On Saturday mornings, we'd get up at six to get to the beach around seven -- surfers always get up early, because the waves are better. The girls would sit around, watching the guys surf. I used to drive a gigantic Dodge Coronet and on Saturday nights, I'd stuff eight girls into it. There was always a beach party or a house party or a pool party to go to then." The lone surfer, lying on his board some distance from the shore, is waiting for a big one. Michele counts the waves to herself. "Do you know I'm a direct descendant of Sir Francis Drake?" she says, stuffing her hands into her jeans pockets. "Once, when I was in Mexico, I was at a certain beach and I got this very strange feeling about the place -- almost mystical. Later, someone told me that Sir Francis Drake had landed there. Maybe that's why I felt so good about that spot." Wistfully, she gazes at the water. Then suddenly, she sheds her jeans and shirt, revealing a tiny black bikini underneath. Without a word, she runs into the surf. Thigh-deep in salt water, she turns to wave, her tanned body glistening in the spray. Yes, indeed, the Beach Boys were right.
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