To beach or not to beach - that is the locals’ question

April 28, 2019

I like to make a lot of promises to prepare for the summer. You know, things I could do differently this season. Of course, I won’t keep those promises, this being a political year. For example, they say you should practice de-stressing when it comes to the expected traffic increase. I find it doesn’t help to listen to rainforest music if I’m riding up the rear bumper of the car in front of me.

But the constant vow I make every year is to get to the beach. I think something happens to those of us who live here year-round and attempt to make it to the beach once in the season. I don’t know if it’s the milk-white legs or all the sand stuck inside our bathing suits, but it’s definitely an out-of-body experience.

For instance, I will pack up that car, get to the state park and head down to the water. Seems simple enough. The problem is that after I step in, just to remind myself how wet water is, I never can find my way back to where I put my stuff. Sure, it might be the fact that I am just about legally blind, but I think there is something else going on. So when I come out of the water, which I am forced to go into by peer pressure, I’m so lost I could just as well have landed at some beach in the Middle East.

Everything is a blur, and I often say “excuse me” to umbrellas and “sorry” when I trip over coolers or offer to exchange insurance information with a beach chair. It’s odd, since my husband’s eyesight seems to improve whenever we go to the beach. I swear he can spot someone wearing a French-cut bikini a couple of ZIP codes away. He’s been on thin ice since the last time a woman walked by with only enough material in her bathing suit to make a handkerchief; his eyeballs fell out into the sand and we spent hours digging them out. There were so many buried there, it was difficult to find the right ones. Apparently it’s a common male problem.

Anyway, probably the most difficult thing to do if you make that one appearance as a year-round resident at the beach is to pick out just the right spot. The beach has changed. So don’t be surprised when you get there on a good afternoon to find a sea of umbrellas and enough people to fill a presidential slate. I know you expected a little solitude, but the number of beachgoers seems like a family of 60 relatives in those old rent-subsidized, one-bedroom apartments the Russians put up for athletes in the early ‘50s. It would be so packed that they would have to coordinate so when one group inhaled, the other group across the room exhaled.

Seeing all those people may cause you to be anxious, sort of like when you hear the side effects of certain drugs on television commercials that warn you of depression, speaking in tongues and leaking underpants.

So you are going to have to canvass the area before you make your move. One place near the water looks good, but then there is a fellow nearby with a machete chopping a watermelon the size of an aircraft carrier and with the facial-expression intensity you’d see on a wanted poster in the post office. Maybe not.

Another empty spot emerges, but as you head out, a family sits down behind and is putting up a tent that could house the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. And judging by the number of kidlets, it could actually sound like them too.

Hey, even the sharks are finding it hard to choose a place to come ashore. So now may be the time to make that summer vow to get to the beach – or not.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

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