Let's Go To The Beach!
by: Max Burbank

If you're like me, you're the sort of fellow (or gal!) who likes to start things off by saying 'if you're like me'. But more to the point, it's summer, schools out and HEY! Why didn't somebody warn me when I had kids I'd have to do something with them when they're not in school?

Well, I'm here to warn YOU! And the best thing to do with a passel of sweaty, bored little kids on a hot summer day is...


Whoa, there, Nelly! Not so fast! Be smart and take a few beach going tips from an old pro.

Going to the beach with your kids today isn't like it was in the olden days when I was a kid. What with the ever-growing hole in the Ozone layer, toxic Red Tide, washed up medical waste, the insidious plans of stingrays and more than one new law regarding the transportation of minors in skimpy bathing costumes across state lines, you'd better be prepared!

Here's a handy list of some of the things you might want to bring along to enhance your day at the beach!

• Towels, and plenty of 'em!
• A Beach Blanket to play Bingo on.
• Beach toys.
• A Large Umbrella for shade.
• A well stocked picnic basket and cooler.
• Sunscreen.
• Soylent Green.
• More towels!
• Several recent editions of 'Adroit Midget Croquet Enthusiast'.
• An entrenching tool.
• Lots of complicated folding chairs none of which unfold the same way as any of the others.
• Your imagination.
• Secret, hidden towels.
• A gun.
• Towels.
• Cyanide capsules.
• Some towels.

After a longish, cramped, unpleasant car trip, lets assume you and your party have arrived at the beach with no major injuries. Have your spouse pick a random patch of sand extremely far from where you parked while you see if you can carry every single thing you brought with you in one trip. Why? Because one thing I've learned from an awful lot of parenting; Kids won't help you. Beat them if you want, it only gets you arrested these days, and it won't get you one step closer to the water. Did you bring your flip-flops? I didn't put them on the list to test you and also because it makes me laugh thinking about what comes next. Did you know that after just a few hours of direct exposure to the suns rays, common beach sand can reach temperatures of Six Thousand Degrees Kelvin? It's a scientific fact even though no one knows what 'Kelvin' is. We do know it's hot enough to melt a dad's foot right up to the shinbones. Don't you wish you'd picked that beach with the boardwalk? WOW, did your spouse ever pick a really far away spot! I bet she brought her flip-flops!

While your spouse of the opposite sex unless you live in Massachusetts or California and the kids frolic in the waves, take a moment to set up camp. It's easy! One good idea is to plant your beach umbrella first thing. On the other hand, sunstroke makes kids more tolerable! Next, unfold any one of the incredibly complicated new beach chairs your spouse bought out of hatred, and be sure to catch your finger in between two metal rods, or else you're doing it wrong! Know what's great for a cut finger? Sand.

Jesus Toast, what did you come here for, relaxation? Get the hell up and make your kids a sand castle for God's sake! Make some memories that don't feature smashing a bottle of 'Old Granddad' on your locked front door why don't you? Be sure it's huge, intricate and definitely better than any other sand castle on the beach because anything else pretty much says 'inadequate father'. And let the kids help, what, is it your sand castle or their sand castle? Don't just make them get buckets of water or build retaining walls either, I see what you're up to Michelangelo, let them help with the main parts even though, yes, now your sand castle looks like a handicapped person made it. Now get ready for the real fun, which is preventing the little bastards from wrecking the whole thing, which is absolutely all they want to do. Look at them, trembling like pint sized junkies! Make a big speech about how the whole entire point of building a sand castle is to let the tide get it, that if you do it any other way you completely miss the metaphor, no spiritual growth takes place at all, go ahead and get good and loud when they start to get bored, because this is important god damn it, and then notice that the tide is actually going out and only your youngest child is even still there and the look on its face might be sympathy but is more likely contempt or just plain bone stupidity. Okay, now you can cry.

There are only two types of beaches on this planet. The first type features absolutely no surf at all, the water is slightly more vigorous than your evening bath and any child out of diapers will hate you for bringing them there. The other type of beach has eighteen foot waves and rip tide and the instant any parent takes their eyes of the kid it's a bloated corpse half way to Bermuda. Oh wait, I forgot, there is one other kind with moderate surf but the water is full of the kind of jellyfish that sting so bad you drown yourself to escape the pain. I heard of this pretty good beach once but just after I set up camp we discovered that after Ten O'clock in the morning it becomes a very exclusive nude beach especially for morbidly obese people who suffered hideous burn injuries in childhood.

Remember when you were a kid at the beach and some atrociously speckled old aunt insisted you couldn't swim for a half hour after eating because you'd get cramps and drown? It turns out that's just an old wife's tale and the fact is you can get those kinds of cramps when swimming at any time with no warming at all.

Ocean water is very murky, which means there could be absolutely any kind of creature swimming straight toward you and you'd never know until it was too late. Also, as soon as you go out above your head, you have no way of knowing how deep the water is. Maybe you're floating over some terrible gash in the earth's crust, miles and miles deep. Just imagine what might be coming up out of the blind bowels of the earth with its mouth open as you stupidly tread water? Now think about this: If you had a microscope with you while swimming, you'd soon find that in any given drop of ocean water, there are seventeen billion horrible spiny creatures, many of them small enough to swim right into your pours, let alone your other, larger bodily holes.

Here's a fact, Jacques Cousteau. Human children cannot survive under water. Is a moment of personal relaxation really worth taking your eyes off your child for even an instant, considering the sea is known to be God's own huge bowl of death? Why the hell did you even bring them here? What are you? Wondering why Spouse can't watch them for a few damn minutes so you can just swim a little bit? I'll tell you why. Every man on this entire beach looks substantially better than you in a bathing suit. Even that morbidly obese burned guy.

One way to keep your kids from the deadly clutches of the sea is to walk along its edge collecting stuff. No, no, not with a metal detector! Those things are strictly for Alzheimer's patients and mental defectives. No one in human history has ever found anything worth more than five cents with one of those, which is why your father never got you one for Christmas even though you asked every year. It doesn't prove he never loved you and giving in and buying yourself one would be just pathetic. It's much better to buy your own child one this Christmas and make them use it the next summer instead of letting them risk their lives swimming. Really get into it, drive them up and down the beach for hours and hours and when neither of you find anything more exciting than a rusty nail you can think about what you've done.

It's amazing the things the tide brings in. Seashells, bits of stick, seaweed, beautiful polished rocks that when you bring them home dry to the uniform grey color of your soul, dead crabs, decomposing unidentifiable sea creatures, cigarette butts, those plastic thingamajigs that perform some mysterious function in sanitary napkins, fishhooks, the occasional human femur, hey, what's that over there, sport? Looks like all your hopes and dreams just washed up on the shore, and the ocean wasn't kind to them. Isn't it ironic how your tears are salty, just like the sea? Now explain to your kids why daddy is crying again.

Because you didn't adequately sunscreen your kids, that's how they'll die. You. You. You did it. Don't try to blame Spouse. In your heart you know it was your responsibility and you've failed them again. Did you know when you hold a shell to your ear you can hear the ocean calling you?

Boy, those summer thunderstorms just come out of nowhere, don't they? Run to the car, kids! Run, run run. Spouse, go with them, the car's locked and you have the keys. Now it's just you, the torrential rain, the stinging wind swept sand, and all your gear. You had a good time, right? Trudging back through the storm carrying everything is just the price you pay for a swell time. A swell time for the family. You can think about them as you trek slowly across the flat, flat sand, the single highest point in a thunder storm, carrying a folded beach umbrella on a long, metal pole.

If you enjoyed this piece, be sure to check out:

The Very Last Summer Vacation Ever!

Reader Comments

Can't touch this
Jul 22nd, 2008, 04:25 AM
I'm building a beach Just for you, Max.
Can't touch this
Jul 22nd, 2008, 04:26 AM
Send the family to the Mall with twenty dollars to play "See how many items"
after enough bourbon ...
Jul 22nd, 2008, 08:17 AM
You forgot sand flies - mmmm lunch! Are you O-positive? I like O-positive.

Other than this minor nitpick, pure poetry.
Serial Loiterer
Jul 22nd, 2008, 08:26 AM
The best beaches are the ones with all the "No-Trespassing" signs. Since I'm a Morlock, I don't do to the beach during the day though, only at night when all the drunks have decided to go skinny-dipping. Drunk People + Dark Turbulent Water = Quality Entertainment.
Baby Puncher
Jul 22nd, 2008, 01:24 PM
I think I just died a little more inside.

Top-notch stuff.
Amicable Herculean
Jul 22nd, 2008, 05:17 PM
Ocean water is very murky, which means there could be absolutely any kind of creature swimming straight toward you and you'd never know until it was too late.
My thoughts exactly. That's what the gun's for, right? To shoot all the fish?
Jul 22nd, 2008, 06:37 PM
Bury the kids under a huge mountain of sand then drive back home.
Crazed Techno-Biologist
Jul 23rd, 2008, 03:22 AM
the nicest beaches tend to be the private ones, mostly because theyre devoid of this kind of stuff. that and (if youre lesley nielson from that infamous episode of creepshow) you can use it to bury your enemies.
Crazed Techno-Biologist
Jul 23rd, 2008, 03:24 AM
huh, you guys use those lil bracket things instead of greater than or less than signs. weird. guess I'll try again
grants but one wish
Jul 23rd, 2008, 04:03 AM
heeeeeeeeeey, its not summer! and school just went back in! you krazy amerikans and your right way round seasons...
drifting in the void
Jul 23rd, 2008, 06:14 AM
This is so very sad. It makes me want thank the mighty elder gods that I have neither Spouse nor Kids. THANK YOU ELDERS, you rock!
Tinhorn varmint
Jul 23rd, 2008, 09:21 AM
This perfectly sums up why I hate going to the beach.

Also, as soon as you go out above your head, you have no way of knowing how deep the water is. Maybe you're floating over some terrible gash in the earth's crust, miles and miles deep. Just imagine what might be coming up out of the blind bowels of the earth with its mouth open as you stupidly tread water?
And this perfectly sums up why I hate the ocean with a fiery passion, articulated much better than I ever could. Thank you, Max, thank you.
Supa Soviet Missil Mastar
Jul 23rd, 2008, 11:32 AM
I'll never forget the look my father gave me as he ran up the wet sand screaming, legs covered in blue men-o-war jellyfish, as he was told by my mother to "be more careful" since he nearly stepped on our crappy sand castle. That article said exactly what his face said that day.
The Moxie Nerve Food Tonic
Jul 23rd, 2008, 01:33 PM
I love the beach and go there with my family whenever I can. It's more the human condition I'm writing about, and for laughs.

Zhukov's father's experience fits right in. It isn't the beach or the jellyfish or the reprimand or the sandcastle that make those moments per se, but the state of being alive in one's skin on earth with other people that brings them about.
The Goddamned Batman
Jul 23rd, 2008, 01:35 PM
This made me laugh so hard I almost got in trouble at work.
Supa Soviet Missil Mastar
Jul 23rd, 2008, 02:03 PM
And here I was thinking those moments where made by bowling dad out in beach cricket while he suffered some sort of irukandji syndrome.
I must preserve my P.B.F.
Jul 24th, 2008, 01:57 AM
It's amazing how a beach can attract the fattest and/or ugliest people in the world that still think they look good in a bikini or a speedo.
Jul 29th, 2008, 02:26 AM
"Lots of complicated folding chairs none of which unfold the same way as any of the others."

This is the best.
Forum Virgin
Jul 30th, 2008, 03:30 PM
i honestly laughed out loud for 5 minutes when you sprung a gun out of nowhere on your what to bring list, i don't know why that's so funny to me. But i must say Mr. Burbank is one of the funniest men alive.
Imperial Stormtrooper
Jul 31st, 2008, 02:31 AM
Man this article is spot on.

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