Trying to Understand the Pull of the Beach

August 17, 2014
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At the beginning of the summer, I wrote an enraged treatise on why I believed the beach and everything about it was the very worst. Now, after a few months of contemplation and beach going (well, twice), I’ve had a slight change of heart. Not that I’ve fallen in love with this supposed summer paradise, but I now know the beach is actually two places, and only one is truly deserving of pure abhorrence. It’s possible to split the beach into that place where you swim and frolic among sharks (sweet), and that place where you ruffle your beach feathers and contemplate the term “beach body” (horrifying).

Any beach where swimming and not caring what other folks think at all is the modus operandi is a beach worth pitching your colorful umbrella at. The reason for beaches should always be diving headfirst into oncoming waves and relaxing in big Mamma Ocean until your skin starts dissolving or jellyfish stage a coup. The water is there to be thrashed about in and maybe, if you’re feeling particularly saucy, micturating in, not admired like a giant sky mirror. This is one of the errors of the pruning beach, the species of beach I shall never forgive existing. The image-centric, muscle plumage beach is the flipside of the beach coin, an oily hell-scape of tanning and pretending to read.

Now, I know I sound like a bitter fool for trying to denigrate a place where hot folks strut about (in Mediterranean Europe, breasts roam free like buffalo in pre-Columbus America), but after the initial bewilderment over such rampant, beautiful nakedness, the crushing boredom of the place sets in. Unless you are swimming about like a cracked out, joy-filled dolphin, you’re literally doing nothing while the sun takes years off your life. And I know that it’s supposed to be relaxing, but unless you have some private inlet, you’re surrounded by extremely cacophonous people who smell of sunscreen and diapers.

Trying to Understand the Pull of the Beach

There are only a few reasons why you should ever trek out to the beach:


You’ve never seen the sea or ocean and you’ve an obligation to hurl yourself into oncoming waves to truly understand what it means to be alive. Or, you have children who’ve never seen the water and teaching them to swim would be lame at the pool.


It’s your private beach and you can grill mad meats all up on your property while waves sooth you and your drunken buddies into a vacation stupor (but no sunbathing, damnit).


No one wants to go mountain hiking with you, and you’ve accepted beachside defeat to your friends, who all think the beach has any semblance of outdoorsiness (it doesn’t, and you need lumberjack friends).


You’re chubby and proud of it and don’t care what any old sap thinks of you because to hell with it you want to rock out with lobsters and mermaids and whatnot.


Your significant other thinks it’ll be fun to go to the beach but you resist because you burn like vanilla ice cream in a hadron collider but you know it’ll make them happy so why not, how cruel can our mother star be (turns out, very cruel)?

Really, the beach dichotomy is not totally spatial, but a state of mind. Some beaches in this world are designed for tourist style relaxation, and those are all nightmare places. However, some beaches are more local and therefore better. Beyond this, though, is the individual attitude toward the place. If you are going to the beach to look attractive and tan and literally do nothing but lazy the day away, then you are contributing to the beach being completely about image and how many six packs can fit into a square meter of sand. It’s up to those brave souls who don’t care about their visual aesthetic (but, like, keep the weird floaty things and hawaiian shirts to a minimum) and actually care about the sea (like a pirate would) to take the beach back from the industry of tanning oils and give it to us haphazard hairy people who just want to swim without a cornucopia of disgusted glances and smirks… or maybe I’m paranoid. Anyway, the beach is still terrible.

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