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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 nothing...my 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.