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Good luck finding that perfect beach spot

July 29, 2018

Like a woman on the cover of a cheap romantic summer novel, I stood on the sand dune and gazed out at the ocean. The wind whipped through my hair so it looked like the makings of a Waldorf salad. This mattered little to me, for I was observing the cardinal rule of being at the beach - location, location, location, involving finding that perfect spot. Isolated and alone, that’s the ticket, so you can hear the New Age music of the waves lapping against the sand.

But, I’ve learned, the closer you are to the water, the more likely a family the size of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will plunk down in front of you. And the music you hear will be from the soundtrack of the movie “Scream.”

Welcome to the Matrix. Anything goes. With beachgoers lugging chairs, umbrellas, tents, coolers, computers, washing machines and any other thing they find in the garage, the whole ambiance takes on the appearance of the last day of a discounted yard sale. So, a little surveillance ahead of time for a good spot is advised.

I count myself as a patient person, but when the family beside me has a guy who pulls out a machete and starts hacking at a watermelon, then I’m out of there. Of course, I made the mistake of saying, “Time to go.” I ended up with 10 strangers in my car, all of whom spoke a foreign language I didn’t understand, and they all proceeded to pound me on the back and offer an Uber account on their phone app for the ride.

Of course, it always helps if you wear your glasses when scouting a location at the beach. Sure, I would need a magnification the strength of the Hubble telescope, but it beats the heck out of stumbling back from a swim and mistakenly plopping down next to a giant shark that washed up three days ago. I mean, the flies are the size of a turtle in heat, not to mention the ridiculous conversation I was carrying on because all I saw was a blob.

By noon, the sun was as high as a meth addict and was sending out atomic test site heat. It was time to make my move. I saw a family pack up and leave from under a pile of bodies. I thought they left behind a gray-haired older lady, probably a grandmother. Fortunately for me, it turned out to be just a gray tin trash can. I wasn’t too worried about sitting next to it, since people find it too exhausting to lift up the lid, preferring to leave their trash on the ground.

Now the second cardinal rule of the day at the beach is food. Not your own, of course; no one could afford the chuck wagon you will need to impress a bunch of strangers who could not care less about you. Nonetheless, it’s important because it is the law; if you are at the beach, you must eat. No self- respecting beachgoer would be caught without a bag of chips that is at least the size of a feed bag for a stable of horses.

So, I always pick a spot closest to the group that has the most coolers. Fortunately, I have very sensitive ears and can hear the rip of a bag or the popping of a plastic top at least as far away as the coast of Italy. I always follow this with a handshake and a cheery, ”Howdy, neighbor.”

A day at the beach takes a little planning, so carry along a cheap romantic summer paperback for trades.

  • 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.