I don’t like the beach. There. I said it. Call me crazy, but on a steamy summer afternoon, there is nothing that appeals to me less than treading across mounds of sizzling sand dunes just so I can roll out a towel and uncomfortably lay myself out to bake for five hours like an ant under a magnifying glass or a pale, Irish child under a lamp. It hasn’t always been this way. As a kid, I adored coastline excursions as they often signaled a day of innumerable fun activities. But the older I got, the less I seemed to enjoy many of the things that once made the beach so wonderful.
I wore a one-piece bathing suit for as long as a person can wear a one-piece but, like overalls, you can only wear them for so long without being judged. (According to a the collection beach pictures I just Googled, one-pieces are reserved for toddlers and grandparents, neither of which I am right now.) The day I relinquished my one-piece for another swimsuit was also the day I was forced to abandon boogie boarding. This is because in trying to boogie board with a two-piece, I learned two things: waves are perverted, suit-snatching creations of nature and the rate that my face goes from pale white to Clifford red stands at about 1.56 seconds. I’m comfortable with my body and all but I’d prefer not to share it with the entire beach. This isn’t Europe.
I have a lot of beef with the idea of being buried but most of it stems from sandworms. Up until the age of ten, I believed the only things that dwelled beneath the sand were shells, sea glass and buried treasure. Then came the sandworm, a slimy, writhing, creepy-crawly spawned straight from the depths of Mount Doom. In textbooks, it looks like this:
But in real life, it looks more like this:
Merely knowing that these creatures could slither past my feet while I’m trapped in a cocoon of sand makes me hyperventilate.
With the fear of sandworms came other realistic fears that once took a backseat in my kid-mind: abandonment, strangers unknowingly kicking sand in my eyes, children tripping over my exposed head, getting stuck, the tide coming in, flash tsunamis, David Hasselhoff running past me. The possibilities are endless.
“Here’s a sandwich Billy. Now just open the package and…Billy, do you have sand on your hands? Wait, now the sandwich has sand on…don’t put that in your mouth, what are you- BILLYSTOPEATINGTHESANDWICH!!!”
Perhaps I have just become more observant over the years but lately at the beach, it seems like there is sand on everything (besides, you know, the ground) and it’s starting to drive me crazy. Hands, shirts, sandwiches sitting in sealed plastic baggies. In fact, you could put a slice of cheese in an airtight, multi-layered package and probably still find a grain of sand inside upon cracking it open. As a result, I can no longer enjoy eating on the beach in fear that I will consume one of these salty pebbles on accident, which will happen, I assure you. I understand that this shouldn’t be such a big deal and that my beach trips are twice as inconvenient without food around but I once saw this kid on a TV show eat sand and then worms ended up in his eye so I’m not taking any chances, okay?
If you’ve ever wanted to experience the Titanic (maybe you’re a thrill seeker, I don’t know), just head over to the nearest New England beach and jump in the water. There has to be some sort of conspiracy going on because I don’t remember the water ever being as cold as it feels to me now. In addition, my awareness of dangerous marine life has become heightened in recent years as a result of watching too many Syfy channel original movie marathons. (Ones that were particularly detrimental to my mental health: Jaws, Sharktopus, Dinocroc, every Lake Placid and Frankenfish.) As if those weren’t enough to do me in, National Geographic also aired weekly specials for a brief period of time highlighting real deadly ocean dwellers, thus building up my mental anthology of sea-critters-that-can-kill-me and keeping me out of the water for eternity and beyond.
To a child: Let’s go make a castle with a moat and a wall lined with shells for extra defense and let’s put a flag on top and have a drawbridge with a crab guarding the gate!
To an adult: Let’s sit in mud and drip mud on mud and mold it into a fancy cylindrical shape until the water comes and wipes it away and covers me with… more…mud…
Sandcastles are magical. In fact, if I didn’t have to sit in a puddle of sand and rocks in order to make them, I’d probably create my own sand-based summer house. But when you finish constructing the castle masterpiece and there is sand clinging to every square inch of skin and the only way to remove it is by going in the water (see previous sub-section for why this is not an option), it is entirely not worth it.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that I turned from beach lover to loather because it didn’t happen in an instant. Rather, my aversion to this summer setting happened over time, growing stronger as my maturing mind began to eliminate the desire for sandcastles and boogie boarding. Now, beach trips involve nothing more than reading cheesy summer romances and tanning (both of which are mentally and physically discomforting) and holding onto a time when sharks stayed in gummy packets, sand only held buried treasure and ignorance (of underwater creatures, at least) was truly bliss.
Image via Flickr.com