Take off your clothes. Strip them all off until you’re in your underwear. Then I want you to walk until your feet burn. When you arrive at a designated spot of my choosing, I want you to slather yourself in a smelly, oily cream that will seep into your pores and watch as other fat, hairy, grotesque people do the same. At some point, a wild animal with razor sharp teeth may be stalking you, lurking in the shadows and unseen until the moment it violently rips off your leg and drags you into a dark labyrinth. Until that moment, I want you to sit there and stare while intense heat roasts your exposed flesh and blinds you with excruciating, searing, age-advancing pain.
Oh, and one more thing. Relax! After all, you’re at the beach.
The beach. The seashore. The shore. The ocean. Whatever you call it, I have another name for it. Torture. I see the process of going to the beach synonymous with a torture scene from a sadistic horror movie. I can’t imagine a worse place to be and it combines some of my most intense annoyances in one location. Heat, crowds and tourists.
But even in a place wrought with such obvious discomfort, people flock to the beach in droves. They sit in the car for hours for the chance to sit on the ground for hours. They ignore the hypocrisy of escaping their daily commute by driving long distances in each direction and they speak about ‘getting some sun’ while they put on lotions to avoid ‘getting some sun’. In their mind, it is all worth it for the chance to sit and stare at the ocean.
I don’t understand this intense obsession people have with the ocean. It has been one of history’s great hindrances and thousands upon thousands of lives have been lost trying to cross it in order to get to a better place. The ocean is like keeping a relationship with an abusive husband. It tosses us around, pulls us, pushes us and tries its best to kill us…yet we keep coming back to it.
I really don’t know where the anger comes from when I talk about the beach. Maybe it’s just because I’m Irish and hold some resentment. Us Irish don’t do well in that climate. We were not created for spending large amounts of time in direct sunlight and the freckle is an embarrassing reminder from God about this fact. Like a scarlet letter that brands us for violating some sacred covenant. The problem is that some parts of the body inevitably get sunlight and as a result they end up looking like those dotted pictures you have to stand really close to and slowly back away from before you see the image. It’s true. If you do that to my arm, you see a sailboat.
Maybe my problem is the whole double standard the beach is held to. On Monday, when someone inevitably asks me what I did that past weekend, I will say that I sat around, did some reading and stared. And in their mind, that will constitute doing ‘nothing’. However if I had gone to ‘the beach’, it would have constituted doing ‘something’. Even though while at the beach, people sit around, do some reading and stare. The difference? It’s ‘the beach’. The very phrase causes people (mainly girls) to lose their fucking minds. They starve themselves, put themselves through intense workouts, diligently pre-bronze their bodies for hours and painfully wax hair from all parts of their body. Yet when spoken of, it’s paradise.
I really just don’t see how the beach has turned into this deity over the years. We must protect the beach. We must keep it safe for it is a holy place. Fuck the beach. I really don’t care. Stupid sand. The only real advantage I see is the opportunity to urinate in public. Being able to stand around strangers and just urinate without discretion or the hassle of removing clothing is a big perk for anyone, guys and girls alike. Other than that, going to the beach requires way too much effort to do nothing.
There are also other things you inevitably encounter while at the beach whose very presence have further deteriorated my desire to be there.
Surfers. People who surf are the same as people who do yoga. They describe it as a whole Zen experience and talk about it obsessively. Oh, look at me! I can stand up on a board. Hey, I stand up all the time pal. Been doing it for years. The fact you do it on water does not make you Jesus Christ. Calm down about it.
Life Guards. These people. Talk about ego. They sit in their little white or yellow tree houses and yell at people all day. They are the traffic cops of the beach. What’s with the attitudes life guards? You’re getting paid to sit and stare at the ocean while you’re surrounded by people that are doing it for free. Be grateful. And knock it off with the whistles.
Metal-detector people. Don’t look now, here comes fucking Magellan. Really buddy? What are you expecting to discover? It’s New Jersey. The only gold you’re going to see is in the shape of a crucifix and hanging around some Italian guy’s neck. So stop walking around like a shipwrecked blind person waving that device all over the place. It’s embarrassing.
Seagulls. Or as I call them, the pickpockets of the sky. Fuck you seagulls. Stop stealing all of our stuff. You sit around all day screeching and then have the nerve to take MY peanut butter and jelly sandwich? It should be legal to hunt seagulls. Like a game of Duck Hunt when you go to the beach. How come ducks got such a bad rap but seagulls are protected like bald eagles? Ya know why? Because they have become synonymous with ‘the beach’. I’m not buying it. Keep an eye out seagulls, your time is limited.
Sand castles. You can’t walk ten feet without someone screaming to watch out for these sand mines. Yeah, what a tremendous accomplishment for your son. He filled a bucket with sand and turned it over. Next step, filling out that application for Harvard. You dope. And stop showing off kids. It’s a recession for God’s sake, we should not be building. Thankfully the ocean is like a bank and forecloses on all these homes each night.
Whatever my problem is with the beach, I don’t imagine my feelings on it will ever change. So save the pictures of ocean sunsets and stories from your tropical getaways because I just won’t care. Instead I’ll be here, relaxing on my couch under artificial light in a living room devoid of castles, whistles and marauding birds, silently counting my freckles while enjoying the cool breeze coming off of the air conditioner. Paradise.