Don’t look behind those sand dunes for your summer romance

July 21, 2019

Ah, yes. We can hardly let the summer go by without thoughts of that classic, the summer romance. Songs have been written about it, poets have lauded it, and young men and women have dreamt about it.

And there is something about the beach that lends itself to hand-holding, sharing intimate moments and that age-old cry, “Run for your life,” upon waking up next to someone you don’t know after a night on the town.

The problem today, though, is that no one really knows what romance is anymore. Oh, sure, we’ve had our obvious definitions displayed in the past.  You know, couples strolling arm in arm, a quick peck on the cheek and sharing food off each other’s plates. And that’s just amongst the dog community.

I suppose romance changed when the personal ads came out and started the movement to really put it out there in terms of what the ideal date would entail. No longer were we willing to settle for the blind date. It became the age of all or nothing. The personal ads were not only specific, but downright equal.

As an example, “Single male seeks any female who can bake cakes, likes Road & Track, must be able to do 20 loads of wash a day and stir up a mean tuna noodle casserole. My interests are of the quiet variety, and I am currently pursuing a legal career specializing in appeals. Send photo and note to the Kansas State Prison, Cell Block D.” 

Then we took a giant leap from personals to internet dating apps. You really don’t have to meet anyone at the beach and get all sandy; you can start the process for that summer romance either by fax or photocopy machine at the nearest pharmacy.

But here again, people ran into problems. In filling out the profiles for online dating services, it became obvious that a great many candidates couldn’t pass a lie detector test if it was administrated by their own mother. 

And you can forget about a recent picture. Unless you were into high school yearbook poses from the ‘50s, you would have to photoshop or at least airbrush all kinds of stuff onto the image, little things like a head of hair, a set of teeth and gums that looked like they weren’t bought at the local variety store. So once again, we are faced with the definition of romance and how do we get there today.

Now, some observers will tell you that the summer romance almost always involves the popular happy hour at the local bar. This might have been true back when, but today the image is of pouring an ounce of liquor into someone’s belly button as they’re stretched out on the bar, while “Proud Mary” plays in the background. 

Unfortunately, the chance you take is that guys you meet in bars suffer from short-term memory loss the next day. It’s scientifically explained that after downing a case of beer, the brain resembles most of the shredded documents left by a hurried politician called before a Senate hearing.

It’s true that guys are often seen leaving the bar with their new love interest, a coat rack or part of an air conditioner, mistakenly believed to be a woman, just too shy to talk a lot, but it’s all pretty harmless and chalked up to a lesson learned.

Romance in bars year ago was more accurate and predictable. Guys told you they were airline pilots, bought you a bunch of drinks with little umbrellas and then went into a complete catatonic state. Women were either pretend stewardesses or actresses. You could be sure, though, that everyone lived with their parents and could be found at the nearest bowling alley on a Saturday night in the winter months.

The summer romance is still ripe around here, though.  And it’s just the beginning. I saw a gal the other day holding hands with the back pockets of the guy’s jeans. She was deep in thought; I could tell by the way her short shorts were unzipped and hanging off her hips like a bit of laundry flapping in the breeze on a clothesline. 

Perhaps the old song by Patti Page, singing of sand dunes and salty air, will just have to bring back those memories of summer romance. Ah, never mind, I don’t want to know what’s behind those sand dunes, now that I think about it.

  • 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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