“Hey, a bunch of us are heading to the beach, wanna come?”
It happens every year about this time. The sun is shining, the weather is warm, and someone who doesn’t know me very well has just invited me to the beach. It’s sweet really, how poorly they’ve misjudged their
audience. My usual reaction is to say nothing and hope the conversation goes away, because in my experience, saying “I don’t really like the beach” goes over about as well as “you know, Hitler actually had some pretty good ideas.” But the conversation never goes away, nor does the person starting it. So then I have to make a
I’m gonna say “the beach isn’t really my thing,” and then they’re gonna ask “how can anyone not like the beach?!” with shock and dismay, as if I just told a 6 year-old that Santa doesn’t exist. And then I have to decide. Do I explain all the problems I have with the oceanside, revealing myself to have a dark and charcoal-colored soul, or just let the whole thing pass? I’d like to restrain myself, because I know that if I go through the whole monologue they’re gonna look at me like the lovechild of Larry David and Charlie Manson. And there’s only so many time you can get that look in a week without feeling down. But they won’t leave well enough alone. “Come on, you’ll have fun, I promise!” “I’ve never heard of someone not liking the beach!” “Stop being such a downer.” And then, well, I really can’t resist. “This,” I tell them, “is why I’m not going to the beach.”
Your Body: There are a lot of great reasons to hate the beach, but your body isn’t one of them. Look, I look like a traffic accident without my shirt on, but you know the great thing about being out of shape nowadays? You can always count on other people to be even more out of shape. I mean, have you seen other people lately? They’re a disaster. There are people out there who are drinking full calorie soda on a regular basis. That’s lunacy. If you’re ever at the beach feeling bad about your appearance, just say to yourself, “I drink Coke Zero. I’m going to be OK.” A few extra pounds isn’t the enemy here. These are the enemies…
Sand: Sand is nothing but sharp dirt. It has all the properties of dirt, except that when you walk on it it cuts up your feet, and if it finds its way into your butt it’ll be there for the rest of your life. You’re thinking, “sand is soft and squishy and wonderful to run your toes through!” No it’s not. Sand is what they make sandpaper out of. It can shave a 4×4 down into a silky little nub. It is not an appropriate surface for my delicate little footsies. Also, why are we expected to play in the sand? It’s the ground. You don’t go to a park and start rolling around in the mud. If you saw a bunch of kids playing in a field, grabbing up handfuls of dirt and shoving it into molds to build giant dirt castles, you’d pull your kids aside and say, “Stay away from those children. There’s something wrong in their brains.” But on the beach this behavior is somehow OK. If someone suggested burying you up to your neck in dirt, you’d call the cops. But if it’s sand, you’re having yourself a lovely and wholesome afternoon. Screw that. Oh, also, did I mention that sand gets burning hot? It does. It gets burning burning hot and you have to walk on it. Have fun.
Kadima: Have you ever played Kadima? It’s the worst game in the world. You select an impossibly small wooden paddle, stand ten feet away from your pal, and try to keep a tiny blue ball in the air. It doesn’t sound so bad until you realize the ball has no actual ball-like properties. It’s hard as a rock, doesn’t bounce, and when it hits you anywhere on your body — which it constantly does — leaves a welt the size of New Jersey. This is what passes for entertainment at the beach: standing in dirt hitting a blue stone at your friends. Additionally, Kadima has no discernible rules or scoring system, so you just kinda tap the ball back and forth until you get fed up — which in my experience is about 45 seconds. It’s the sort of activity Greek myths assigned to an arrogant king to teach their children the danger of hubris. “Be not too proud, young Sestivus, or you shall spend eternity hitting a blue ball back and forth in the dangerous netherworlds of Kadima.”
Seaweed: Seaweed is ocean garbage. Look at someone when they come out of the water with a piece of seaweed on their leg — they’ll kick it off like they’ve covered in dog doo. So why are we swimming with it then? To the people who eat seaweed as a healthy alternative to potato chips, you need to get your head examined.
Salt Water: Salt water is lovely, unless it comes in contact with your skin, eyes, mouth, nose, or hair. Then it’s a real demon. I’ve never drunk a margarita I fished out of a garbage can, but if I did, I think it would taste an awful lot like salt water. I have a friend who loves the feeling of salt water on his skin so much that he doesn’t shower for two days after going to the beach, so he can savor the sensation. I tell him he must also like the feeling of children’s urine, fish guts, and whatever else is floating around in the muck because that’s staying on him too. Then he gives me that Larry David meets Charlie Manson look, and I know it’s time to wrap it up.
At this point, the kind soul who invited me to the beach has usually up and walked away. And I don’t blame one bit, I mean, I am kind of a downer. I guess it would be easier if I just learned one simple sentence: “No, I Will Not Go With You To The Beach.”