Learn how to survive at the beach

June 30, 1996|By Susan Reimer

MY HUSBAND and I have vacationed every year of our married life at exactly the same spot on the Atlantic Ocean.

I have tried to persuade him to visit a new section of beach -- something farther north or farther south -- but each year he repeats that he is not a "changer," the unspoken codicil being that this trait bodes well for me as his wife.

He has also pointed out, quite accurately, that 10 or 12 hours in an overstuffed station wagon with the battling pre-adolescents we travel with would be no one's idea of vacation. So, each summer, we make a mad dash to the nearest spot on the Eastern Seaboard, where we spend a week arguing with our children about sun block.

You don't do anything that often without getting better at it -- one would hope -- so here follows the beach edition of True Facts, the list of truths that occasionally appears in this space. Your vacation by the ocean starts now.

Some people will wear absolutely anything on the beach. Don't be one of them.

You will eat things at the beach that you would never consider consuming while at home, and most of these things will have spent the immediate past in a vat of bubbling hot animal fat. They will spend the foreseeable future coating the arteries that lead to your heart.

Resist the temptation to buy one of those Big Johnson T-shirts, or any of the others that say rude things about sex or drinking or flatulence. No one back in civilization will think they are funny.

The lifeguards are not looking at you.

The best kite store will pack your kite in a carrying case, where it will stay until you return to the beach next year.

You can safely read any book you want to read on the beach. When John Grisham is the high end, you can uncork a Danielle Steele paperback with impunity.

There is a comforting number of men and women who look worse in bathing suits than you do.

Children sleep better at the beach, and children eat better at the beach. Unfortunately, there is no perceptible change in the picking up of wet towels.

There are five stages in a child's life at the beach: Crying when you put him down in the sand, eating the sand, digging in the sand, complaining about the sand in the crotch of his swimsuit and wanting to play video games on the boardwalk.

You are no longer young or thin.

Nothing chases the taste of the wave that crests in your face better than a beer.

You need to get over your visceral reaction to body piercing and move on, because tattoos have already reached the mainstream.

If you are the mother, your family will expect you to continue to cook and wash and pick up after them. If you are the father, have the correct answer ready when she asks: "When does my vacation start?"

You missed a spot with your sun block, and there is sand in your bed. You will feel one more acutely because of the other.

You packed too many clothes, too much makeup and too many books.

When you finally get set up in the sand, someone will have to go to the bathroom.

L Children are never hungry for what you packed in the cooler.

Putting sun block on an uncooperative child is like trying to catch a fish with your bare hands.

Someone else's children will behave worse on the beach than yours. Unfortunately, they will be sitting under the umbrella next to you.

Two-piece bathing suits, like cheesecake and red meat, are part of your past. If you doubt it, ask yourself this question: If I had a waistline, where would it be?

If you want to see what teen-agers and dating look like these days, Saturday night on the boardwalk will snap your head back like hitting a telephone pole with your car.

And the truest True Fact: Life is not a beach. The beach is a beach. But the sound of the waves rushing to shore can drive the fatigue and confusion of life out of your head for another year.

Pub Date: 6/30/96

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