Friday, July 1, 2011

Life’s A Beach!

It’s the first of July and the start of a loooooong holiday weekend. In fact, for a lot of people it began yesterday.

I took my first trip of the year out to Jones Beach…finally. And before July, to boot.

I buy that Empire Pass for $65 buckos each year so I have to make at least 6.5 trips out there to justify the expense.  I usually do that in my sleep, which is not recommended for the 50 minutes or so that it takes to drive out there. But there is a bit of pressure involved to make my quota, and until I get into the 3 or 4 trip range, I’m a little on edge.  Of course I can always use my pass for access to other state parks throughout the rest of the year, but to me, that’s cheating.

Which reminds me, did you know my wife, Z and I, are the official state models for the Rockefeller State Park Preserve ?

Click on the link, and…  Yep that’s us, Z & me, right there, on the home page, under the lady in the funny hat painting by the lake.  We’re the official park strollers.  And we got that "stroll shot" down in only about 32 takes. I know…we don’t usually look that good, but that’s what 2 hours of hair and makeup can do.

Of course I should also mention that the Governor who approved the photo at the time was legally blind. But I'm pretty sure that’s just coincidental.

 Anyway, back to the beach.  Like I was saying, I usually would have been out to Jones 2 or 3 times already by now, you know, researching, but June has been up and down as far as beach weather and, well, there you go.

I know….

I love the beach. I always have. I couldn’t live anywhere where I couldn’t get to a beach when needed.  And I need it a lot! And by “the beach” I mean more than just a stretch of sand.  I mean the whole package; the combination of sand, sun and water, even the smell…be it the ocean or the sound…and I guess even a lake of some sort...but only as a last resort.

I include lake in this treatise, only to placate those landlocked folks in remote places such as Greenburgh, who are not fortunate enough to experience the subtle scent of sea air as they rise from their beds, each day, or the soft spray of seawater on their face as they sit on their back porch enjoying their morning cheerios.  Of course sometime I mistake the splatter from my neighbor’s shower, which is about 3 feet above my deck, for actual sea spray—you know, the suburbs—but the effect is mostly as pleasant, except on Thursdays, when he loofahs.

But I digress….
I often make my trek to the beach alone, which sometimes has it's upside.  I can just veg out and read, listen to my IPod, sleep…whatever.

Of course I’m not always alone. On the weekends Z will join me—she has to—but she’s usually not speaking to me, so the effect is the same.

The trick for a successful beach trip is to find a nice open spot, close to the water, where nobody is going to bother you.  If I see a spot I like I usually mutter a lot as I walk down the beach, and I find that other folks will steer clear of that.

Small children don’t like it when I bare my bottom teeth, either.  So that works, as well.

I don’t usually use sunscreen—oh, sit down—and when I do it’s not more than a .02 SPF.

But don’t worry, I’m a perfect mix of Irish and Italian so I don’t burn, plus I have a regulation sized nose.

And yes, I have been checked out by a dermatologist, about 10 years ago, but I couldn’t get the horrifying image of his humongous eyes under those giant magnifying glasses he was wearing, out of my head, so I haven’t been back.

Once settled in my tranquil little spot, the day unfolds like a perfect symphony of summer. I lay out my very big beach blanket, unpack my duffle, sort through my many towels, each assigned a very specific purpose—chair cover, auxiliary sand shield, lumbar support, headrest, foot rest (and you thought a towel was just for drying. Tsk tsk…amateurs)—then organize my various snacks into groups based on time of day and situational snacking—before swim snacks, after swim snacks, literary snacks, music snacks etc. etc.

And then, and only then, I might venture out into the water, where I bob and dob, jumping over and under a processions of gently rolling waves. 

Until suddenly I look out past the breakers and see the unmistakable sight of the “BIG ONE” gathering steam, sucking the water out from the shore, building strength, mass, and power as it silently approaches.

Other people slowly start to notice it too and what starts as just a murmur turns into cries of panic as previously happy bathers begin to shout, “Turn around!  Look Out…its coming! Go under! Go over!

Everywhere I look, swimmers submerge into the growing wall, or disappear head over heels, as the wall keeps on growing…keeps on advancing, until suddenly it’s on top of me, and now it’s too late.  I freeze, do nothing…and now this mountain of water owns me.

Suddenly the theme from Jaws plays in my head…but no…it’s not Jaws at all, which would be toally cool, but instead it’s that “Little Rabbit Foo Foo”, that my wife was singing on our walk last night, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since.

“I’m going to die listening to “Little Rabbit Foo Foo!” is all I can think as the mountain of water crashes down on top of me. My legs are pulled out from beneath me.  I'm flipped over like the soggy wet toy that I’ve become. Sand scrapes across my face. my bathing suit starts to slip to my knees. My shoulder crashes into a crab…until finally, mercifully, the water relents, and begins to recede.

I look up, sprawled in the mud and after wash of foam. I clear the sand from my stinging eyes and see nothing but a mass of human detritus slowly regaining their equilibrium.

Then...we all jump up and run straight back in, shouting, “Let’s do it again!”

And that’s why Life’s a Beach….

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