Girl Meets Boy on an Island Beach

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THEY met quite by chance on an isolated beach off the coast of Massachusetts, where the tranquil waters of an inland pond kissed the protected shoreline on a late August day.

He was bending over, intent on his quest to catch a few skittering crabs.

She walked toward him, hesitantly, and with her fetching smile, said, ``Hello.''

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Without straightening up, he turned his head toward her and asked, almost shyly, ``What's your name?''

Their eyes met for a moment, and there was an instant bond between them.

``Sophie,'' she replied. Her golden curls, damp in the salt air, were plastered against her forehead; her cheeks crimson.

``What's yours?''

``Bill.''

Then he stood, towering above her, and they talked. His smile was warm; he seemed open and friendly.

``Have you caught any crabs?'' she wanted to know.

``Six so far. How's it going with you?''

``Not so good. I've got a hole in my net.''

``Here, take mine,'' he offered. ``Do you go to school around here?''

``In Connecticut, where I live.''

``Well, you're sure pretty.''

``Thank you,'' she responded, looking down at the sand in embarrassment.

With that, they spied a tall barefoot woman, walking slowly across the beach in their direction.

``That's my mom,'' said Sophie, pointing.

The tall man grinned broadly.

``Say,'' he told her as she approached, ``Your daughter, Sophie, is a real piece of work.''

``We know,'' replied my daughter.

IT had been a chance meeting on Flynn's Beach, never to be forgotten by my granddaughter, Sophie Cole, then a few weeks shy of her sixth birthday, and her mother.

``Bill'' was the 42nd president of the United States, Bill Clinton, who was putting aside the burdens of his high office for a few days of vacation on the island of Martha's Vineyard.

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