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Saturday, July 6, 2013

How does one go to the beach?

This week on the Fourth (and Third and Second) of July I ventured to Long Beach Island where I marveled at many things, including a sunglasses shop called "Sunglass Menagerie."

Holla, Tennessee Williams

More importantly, I was struck by the perplexing act of beach-going and its attendant challenges. Allow me to enumerate.

1. Sand

Sand is one of those things you have to embrace fully or you're doomed. It's like Death. Make peace with Sand, and then you will be able to live a happy life. But if you fight it, you're going to go insane.

Don't get me wrong: I enjoy Sand, once I've parked myself on my beach chair, and am reading my Us Weekly, wearing my large and ridiculous sun hat (I don't actually own a large and ridiculous sun hat, but I wish I did). At this point, Sand and I have become one; I run my feet through it, I marvel at its infinitude and the way it makes me toesies tingle; I feel a better person for being so close to nature in all its fine-grained glory.

Here is the problem, though: I try to leave the Sand, and it won't let me. We are still one, long after the beach, long after I've engaged in the futile exercise of "rinsing off" in an outdoor shower. It stays with me in my car, on my clothes, in my hair and my ears...

And tingling toesis in your bed sheets is a very different sensation, indeed!

What I'd like to know is, how do people navigate the beach/dry-land dichotomy so seamlessly? I think it's like a mental fortitude thing. They accept Sand, rather than try to go "against the grain" (ha!) and then they laugh at poor, neurotic people like me.

2. Bikinis

Even though some people wear one-piece swimsuits as a sort of retro-throwback look, I feel like the convention nowadays is just to suck it up (literally) (ha!) and wear a bikini. You just have to do it. Sorry, Bub. Get into your two piece. We are all waiting.

And it's not that I hate doing this. I just don't look forward to it.

I'm about to blow your mind for a quick sec: Bikinis are exactly the same as wearing an underwear and bra. I know: your mind is now blown. And while we don't walk around in our bras and panties in normal society, the context of the beach somehow makes it okay. Why? Why, I ask you. Why.

Also, I love (hate) how magazines write extensive articles on which bikini is the most flattering for your body shape. As if altering the fabric that covers 10% of your body will affect the way said body looks on the whole. Like, "Oh, thank God I'm wearing this strapless strip of love handles are now invisible."

Don't get me wrong: I'm mostly okay with wearing colorful bra and panties for all the world to see. I just want us all to acknowledge that it is weird.

3. The ocean

The water is, like, always freezing? At least in the northeast. Do we just pretend it is not? That seems to be the only way to go about it.

4. Sunscreen

Sunscreen also seems to be a metaphor for something. Something futile. No matter how much you apply, you will always have to apply more. #humanity #existence #thesearchformeaning

5. What do you do on the beach?

I realize that the sound of waves is relaxing and laying out in the sun gives some people (though not this writer) that enviable, sun-kissed glow -- but what exactly is the purpose of the beach? Often I go there with friends, ostensibly to socialize. But then, once we arrive, we all just kind of...sit. Or sleep. Or read.

And that's it.

I mean, I definitely think sitting and sleeping and reading are important. But aren't there better, more efficient ways to do this? I do all of those things, a lot, and I can do them while wearing clothes, instead of a colorful bra and panties out in public, and I don't have to worry about getting Sand on my Kindle.

Next time maybe I will buy one of those paddle game things where you hit a small ball back and forth and onto the sitting/sleeping/reading people next to you.

In conclusion.

While, overall, I enjoy going to the beach, I will never understand people who do it all the time and pretend like nothing about it is difficult and upsetting. Maybe it's a genetics thing. Maybe the ability to tan gene is part and parcel with the beach-loving gene. We will never know.

What did you do for the Fourth of July? Do you love the beach? Do you hate that I just complained about it for 800 words? Let's discuss.


  1. I'm really glad that I'm not the only one who gets bored at the beach. I like the ocean, it looks beautiful and forces one to relax with it's sound. But after an hour, it's a bit like - Okay, now what? Unless you've failed to take the tide into consideration, then you can spend all day moving your things back. That's fun.

    This is why my favorite beach city is San Diego. Beautiful beach, and also it's a major city - so there's a ton of things to do. Except, I live zero closeness to SD, so there is that problem. Also, I live zero closeness to any beach, so none of this is an issue for me.

    As for the Fourth of July, I ate and played around with my 5yo and 7 month old nieces. Love 'em.

    I'm going to find lunch now, I'm glad we had this chat.

  2. We spent our 4th of July at Seaworld, which to me gives you all the perks of the beach with fewer of the downsides. The water is clean and chlorinated, not cold and salty and filled with living things (other than children and under-dressed hairy men). There's sand near the wave pool, but everything around that is pavement and water, with frequent shower stations to rinse off.

    While I'm not much of a beach person myself, I do love pools and Seaworld is great. I never feel healthier than going for a swim (or float in the Lazy River tubing ride) and then drying in the sun while dozing. While sun and heat are common here, swimming is a definite treat. Plus my mom's been working like mad lately, so an excuse to relax and leave her phone in a locker is a good thing. :)

    I have refused to give in and wear a bikini. I don't have the body for it for one thing (not that that stops anybody else I see wearing them), but moreover I'm just not comfortable in them. I like the one-piece swimsuit I have and since I'm the one who has to wear it, I'm sticking with it. And yeah, it is really weird how we'll define it as inappropriate to wear underwear in public, yet the exact same coverage is considered appropriate swimwear. (Same way I think it's weird you can show every part of the breast except the nipple and it's not considered obscene. Yet guys can show their nipples. Bizarre.)

    Sorry your beach experience wasn't more relaxing for you! Hope you enjoyed some parts of the day anyway!

  3. So many brilliant points. @Amy Playing with small nieces sounds like the best thing ever. @Alayne I totally agree about the nipple conundrum. And I totes did have a great time at the beach! Just always looking for ways to mine for misery/humor.

  4. DJ aka Alayne's momJuly 6, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    While I have to agree with my daughter that Sea World has managed to offer all the perks of the beach with few to none of the downsides, what joy is there in a life where you don't get to deal with seaweed twisting around your ankles, or the feel of something swimming past your legs, skimming them lightly, and wondering if, first of all, it is something you should be fearing, secondly, remembering that science museum exhibit about some sort of marine creature that finds joy in proving it can get into a human urethra (a thing that will never find its way onto my bucket list, I hereby vow, before witnesses, who are now wishing they had not allowed themselves to become my witnesses, and who now will also entertain these thoughts should they venture into any sort of natural water source, and I have now performed a public service in limiting the orifi or whatever the plural of orifice is available to aforementioned marine creatures and I'm rambling but as my daughter mentioned I've been working undogly, oops, ungodly hours, hopefully I'm forgiven....what were we talking about? Oh yeah, beaches. Loved that movie! I don't remember any nipples in it though.) Oh, and that reminds me, that's another reason not to wear a bikini, besides my advancing age (is anyone NOT advancing who is still alive?)--again, fewer available orifi. I think that is going to be my mantra for this week. Know the joy of fewer available orifi.... I need sleep... Sigh...I wish I were on a beach. What were we talking about again?

  5. I had to buy a new swimsuit recently and was perplexed by the proportion of available one-piece to two-piece suits available. I assumed it was because everyone had bought up all the one-piece suits and ha ha ha look at all the leftover bikinis the silly store had, but now I'm aghast to discover this is actually A Thing. People really think everyone should wear a bikini? Good lord.

  6. Hey Felicia! I am a huge fan! I just brought Unnaturally Green on my nook. it is amazing! I am 12 yrs old. I have one question. Are you still in performing arts? Because I really want to see you on Broadway! I am a HUGE FAN! Please reply back! BTW, your blog is so awesome! I love to read about you! You`re writing is awesome and so funny! I use explanation points alot! (hehe)
    -Your Fan

    P.S.- sorry if it was so random :)

  7. I just came upon this and have some things to add. Sand: I have sensory issues and sand causes me great irritation when it is in a transient "partially sand, partially in my shoe, partially near my leg," then once the shoe is off, the leg is sandy, the die is cast... all is well. Bikini: I don't like them. Mainly, when I'm at the beach I plan on swimming. And I like beaches with waves. These things do not work well for bikinis. So, I'm that lady wearing the one piece from speedo that makes me look like a crazed escaped olympian who is all shoulders and one massive loaf breast. Awww yisss, I am a sexy beach go-er. Stuff to do: Swim, swim, read, nap, eat, nap, swim. :D -Esme