A DAY AT THE BEACH
I would like to know where exactly the expression comes from or at least who coined it, as it implies that the be all end all of experiences one can have is a “day at the beach.” You know when you ask somebody how something was and they respond “It was no day at the beach”? No one ever says “It wasn’t like four hours of hot sex.” Or “Not like finishing that project I’ve been working on forever.” Or “Nothing like reading a great book.” The phrase indicates that the ultimate way to spend one’s day is at the beach.
I actually went to the beach yesterday. This should not be a big deal but for me it is as I – OK, get ready – I do not love going to the beach. For me historically a day at the beach is no day at the beach.
It’s not that I don’t like the beach; in the absolute there are things about the beach I do like, or times at the beach I like. I like it in the evening when it’s cool and you can walk along the shore and get your feet wet. I like sitting on a balcony and looking at the beach. I like driving by the beach. And under certain circumstances in the shade, in a quiet spot, call me a princess I don’t care, if the beach is near a pool I like spending a little time on one.
But the all American concept of lugging eight hundred pounds of equipment, finding yourself a two by two spot that isn’t taken and then sitting in the blazing sun listening to other people’s music, being exposed to other people’s body parts that should be covered, and getting sand in every thing I own and in all sorts of parts of my body, well, I do not find this to be as they say “a day at the beach.”
But yesterday, despite these feelings, I decided I had to be the good mom and take my kids to the beach. See, on most weekends as we are out in the country and we don’t have a pool. I’m a pool leech. I’m like one of those Brits who refuse to pay for a hotel room and goes from guest room to guest room until someone sends them home. Normally we ping-pong between our friends Maureen and Jerry Taylor, and Barbara and Howard Sloan’s pools.
But yesterday Maureen and Jerry were away and Glenn had bought beach stickers for the summer– out here beach stickers are a big deal, without the sticker you can’t park any where near the beach which means you are not only hauling the tons of paraphernalia a day at the beach requires, it means you are hauling it for miles. So I had the sticker and I thought we never go to the beach and Lucy will grow up and have nine extra shrink sessions devoted to why her mother never took her to the beach.
There are many beaches out here, gorgeous beaches, but I prefer a beach called MAIN, for two simple reasons: it has bathrooms and a snack bar. If I’m going to “rough it” I need a bathroom and a place to buy a bottle of water and a snack.
So I slapped my beach sticker on the window of the car we piled up the back with towels and chairs, the umbrella, the special umbrella holder so the thing doesn’t fly off and hit nineteen people in the head and knock out someone’s eye, the beach totes, enough bottles of SPF to cover Indonesia, three cameras, four books and partial enthusiasm.
The kids started fighting before we were out of the driveway. Now this is a daily occurrence as control of the radio seems to be a sign of who has the most power. They agree on exactly two songs; if the station is not playing one of those all hell breaks out. I hate them all. After they bicker for two miles I turn on Amma chanting and that shuts them both up or rather makes them agree on some pop station as anything is better to the two of them than Amma chanting. I need Amma chanting to get me over their radio wars. There is one hideous song this summer called I Want to be A Billionaire; I don’t know if it’s the new Goldman Sachs theme song or what but it’s annoying as hell. And it is on nine thousand times a day on EVERY station.
So we get to the beach for our day at the beach and I drop them all off with the stuff and I go off with my sticker to park with the rest of the locals or people who bought their beach stickers back when it was snowing, as that is pretty much when you have to do it. You have to plan for your days at the beach seasons in advance.
As I said this day was primarily for Lucy and to assuage my guilt and I always think I will have more fun at the beach than I do. But the idea was that she would have fun.
And for a while I have, if not fun, at least a kind of “isn’t this cool, here I am, I came to the beach” enjoyment. I like the fact I’m there. But it’s a schizophrenic experience, as I hate crowds, but I love people watching. I like the water, but I don’t like getting my hair wet. I like the fact I have actually put forth the effort, but then I wonder why.
For some reason yesterday Lucy who is normally very easygoing and loves the beach decided this was going to be no day at the beach for her or she was going to make it so it was going be hell for everyone else too. She pretty much whined from the moment we got there to the moment we left. She wanted lunch, we got her lunch; chicken fingers– see this is why you need the snack shop. Then she wanted to go in the water. I took her in the water, but according to her not long enough. The first time, I took her in for twenty minutes. This seemed long for me. But last week her friend Sarah’s mom, who is a friend of mine, took them in for three hours. Marianna is ten years younger than I am I did the math that is maybe ten minutes for every year, maybe not, but I’m bad at math. I think Lucy expected three hours from me. Taylor at that point was already asking when we would leave.
So we frolicked in the Atlantic, an ocean I still do not call my own. I grew up on the Pacific and I don’t care what anyone says, the Pacific is a more friendly ocean.
Some bald guy took it upon himself to splash me. Maybe being bald he did not understand the feeling of not wanting to get your hair wet and I did not want to encourage him by telling him I had mine blown out yesterday and I had it up for a reason, so we waded away.
We had a good twenty minutes of fun, but by then I wanted to relax.
So back to my beach chair, surrounded by five thousand others and then the music started, boom boxes blaring I Want to be a Billionaire.
I tweeted “I am at the beach.” Bill Chuck responded, “I am home in the AC watching TV with the dogs.” OK Bill, maybe you had the right idea, but I was going for something – a day at the beach. When we got back from the water Lucy started whining more, and when Lucy whines Taylor whines back. Taylor just wanted to tan, Sarah had on ear phones and was trying to read; I wanted to read too, I read the same paragraph forty times. Lucy wanted to go back in the ocean. I wanted the ten guys blasting I Want to be a Billioniare to get ear phones.
I told Lucy if she read her book for twenty minutes I would take her back in the ocean. Sarah could not take her whining so she took her and got her an ice cream sandwich, (again, why you need the snack shop). That allowed me to get ten pages in and to take some photos.
Once she finished her ice cream she wanted to go back in the water. I used the “you need ten minutes for your food to digest” excuse. I have decided this is not true, this concept of the food digesting, it just gives parents a break from having to spend the entire day in the water.
I try and be a good mother, I do, but first off I am old to have a ten year old and secondly aside from mid-life crisis ridden middle age surfers what grown up wants to spend four hours in the water?
Taylor finally took her in to shut her up. But that lasted ten minutes. Then they came back and argued over towel placement.
Sarah couldn’t take it anymore so she took Lucy in the water. I got worried as even when she whines I don’t want to lose her, so I went down to make sure she was OK – plus the people to my right started blasting I Want to be a Billionaire.
I schlepped back to the ocean, luckily the splashing bald guy was gone.
I stayed in with Lucy for another twenty minutes, OK so we are up to forty with me, ten with Taylor that is fifty minutes, ten with Sarah – an hour in the water. That is a lot. Right? Wrong.
Back to the towels, the song was back somewhere, the couple in front of us who had been making out since we got there were still at it, I felt like I should give them my chap stick. I think Lucy thought if they could make out for three hours she should get three hours in the water.
Taylor wanted to know if we could leave yet.
You might be wondering where Glenn was in all this, well, from time to time he was on the phone. When Lucy would not shut up I would call him and have him talk to her and threaten to have him come pick her up.
But he does not like the beach and unlike me does not make stabs of overcoming it. When I told him we were going and did he want to join us, he said he would be in the basement of his office working.
The first time he and I ever went to the beach was in Hawaii and I kid you not, he sat on the beach in Honolulu in gray flannels reading Hannah Arendt.
I eventually got him into trunks and to all sorts of beaches all over the place. But he prefers a chaise, his book and a cigar. He also has an ear problem, every time he gets near the water his ear fills up with water. This causes him to jump up and down in the sand or poolside shaking his head with everyone staring at the man who looks like he is having a seizure. He then takes off to the nearest nurse or medical center to have the water professionally removed.
See why the beach is no fun for me? If one of my group isn’t whining then Glenn needs immediate medical attention.
It has gotten to the point when we are on vacation at the beach and I haven’t seen him for an hour, I know he is with the hotel nurse or the assistant manager has driven him to the nearest clinic. In Nam Hai this year they had no nurse so the beverage manger did the ear water removal.
At four o’clock we all decided to pack up and leave. But the thing about the beach is it tends to go with you. You depart with sand in everything, your bag, your book, your towels, shoes, it then leaves a coating of itself in your car which ends up on the floor of your house. Right now the girls’ bathroom is totally covered in a fine layer of sand, which I suppose is there to remind you of your day at beach.
I did have a bunch of wonderful photos but sand got into my camera and destroyed my memory card. I only have a few photos taken with my point-n-shoot. The moral being if you have a day at the beach the sand in your car and on your floor is your memory – and in terms of Lucy having fun, this morning she asked if we could go to the Sloans or the Taylors and swim in their pool.