Most days in August I try to catch the early train to work so I
can leave a little sooner. My wife throws kids in the car, meets
me at the station and we go straight to the beach. I scamper off
to whatever poorly lit restroom theyíve left unlocked and change
out of my work clothes. Something about balancing precariously
on top of my shoes while I struggle to get a leg into my bathing
suit without stepping in the pasty mix of urine and sand on the
poured concrete floor, like Cirque de Soleil meets affordable
competition for Chippendales just says ĎSummerí to me. Itís
By the time I get out on the beach, the blanket is already
spread, the chairs set up, the toys scattered and my kids have a
layer of sand coating every inch of their body. They look like
garden sculpture. Lurching, shrieking, garden sculpture come to
life hell bent of getting sand on the blanket, in the food and
in the babies case, up my nose, in my mouth and as close to my
retinas as her pudgy little digits can get it.
My wife and I take shifts. For the first hour or so The girls
and I wade in the water, build a sand castle, I tell them the
identical rocks and bits of shell the keep showing me are
beautiful and my Bride reads a mystery. Then as the sun begins
to set, painting the sea a million different shades of Orange
and Teal and an almost Thalocyanine Blue, she says "Say girls,
why donít we take a walk so your Dad can get some peace?" I
watch them, my women, the tall one holding the hands of the two
little ones, turning into silhouettes as they get smaller,
And then itís my turn.
I like to start small. I look around for the nearest large
group. Some days I go with an extended family, hopefully
intergenerational, but if Iím in shape and feeling athletic, I
enjoy groups of disaffected teens. I take the sack of stale
bread I got from my cafeteria at work, roll it around a little
to make crumbs and saunter over. When I dump out the bag, the
alpha male invariably asks me what the hell I think Iím doing.
"Donít you recognize me?" I respond, "Iím Tippy Hedron" That
sentence takes about three seconds to say, which is just about
how long it takes the first Sea Gulls to arrive. In the unlikely
event this doesnít cause enough ruckus for me to get away
unscathed, Iíve found pointing at the youngest child and
shrieking "OH MY GOD, HIS EYES! HIS EYES!!!" usually gives me
space to make a run for it.
I stop at my blanket just long enough to strip down to the
undies Iíve left on under my bathing suit. I favor the old
tighty whities. Colored drawers are too easily mistaken for some
sort of French bathing suit, and I donít know about you, but Iíd
rather have mud wasps lay their eggs in my spine than be taken
for a Frenchman. Next I put on my suit socks, pull Ďem way up my
calves, slip on my loafers and race off down the water line
flailing my arms, weeping loudly and randomly shouting nonsense
words like "Chunkies" and "Bulvula". If you decide to try this,
hereís an important tip: Donít run in the same direction your
wife and kids took. Catch up with them and the fun is over.
Didnít I learn that the hard way.
Victims of Burbank's infamous
"Wanna see what I look like in wet underwear?" routine
Once Iíve exhausted myself and/or attracted enough attention, I
tumble to my knees in the surf, raise my fists to the sky, and
gift my gathering public with a tribute to Charlton Hestonís
classic star turn from the end of "Planet of the Apes"
Unless thereís an off duty Cop in the crowd thatís pretty much
it for my act. Youíd be surprised just how easy it is to walk
away. Most beach goers have no real desire to interact with a
sandy lunatic in nothing but soaked Fruit of the Loomís. On the
rare occasion that some Mental Health Professional, well meaning
Christian or other Goody Goody pain in the ass does feel
compelled to approach me, I can usually make them turn around by
tearfully begging them to ĎGet the sand out of my creasesí.
When the kids get back to our spot, I greet them with a
heartfelt "Whoís ready for ice cream? I know I am!"
Itís amazing how a little exercise and some time to yourself
makes the tensions of the workday melt away!
Oh, one last thing. This bit does NOT translate well to Movie
Theaters, Museums, Houses of Worship, or other enclosed spaces.
Also, while youíd think the Actual Statue of Liberty would have
really made the Planet of the Apes thing shine, it turns out our
National Monuments have a lot of Security Personnel and theyíre
really kind of high strung these days. They didnít even laugh at
"That ainít dynamite, Iím just glad to see ya!" Go figure.