Friday, July 26, 2013

What beach?

“So what beach is good when I’m in Charleston?”

Now that’s the absolute last question anyone should ever ask me!  First of all, contrary to anyone under the age of thirty, I’m not impressed with sand.  When my children were small I had a few tons brought in to our backyard so that the kids could build sand castles.  That’s about all it’s good for in my book.  Even the giant sandbox in my backyard didn’t thrill me.  I only had it there out of a deep sense of guilt for never taking my children to the beach.  The kids were always dragging in sand from that dirty pit.  It got to the point that I had to make them strip on the back deck then spray them down with cold water from the hose to attempt to keep this much hated sand from my hardwood floors.

Was I always this way?  Seemingly horrified by the least grain of sand?  I suppose the answer is yes.  If you’ve read my bio you know that I grew up on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina.  Of course the towering mansions weren’t there at that time, and the zip code was far from being the wealthiest East of the Cooper much less the entire United States.  Sullivan’s back then was more of a quaint community, one with too many quirks.  As far as laws and rules went, there were only two, don’t speed and don’t build a fire on the beach.  I did both, a lot.

Today, the kid who drove the school bus is the police chief and his sister is promoting my erotic romance novels at her office.  My, my how times have changed.  So let’s chat about simpler times, what the hell were our parents thinking letting us ride that bus driven by a seventeen year old?  Now that I’ve had a seventeen year old, two of them actually, I sincerely think my parents were lunatics.  Hell the single reason I woke up at six in the morning when my own kids were in school was because the school buses don’t have seatbelts.  A seventeen year old driving a billion pound yellow missile with no seat belts and my Angels on board?  I think not.  How on God’s green earth have I become so paranoid?  I’ve laid claim to the title, “World’s Most Paranoid Parent” for nearly twenty one years now and firmly believe myself an expert on the subject.  I actually have a swimming pool, in ground, which I had installed… that’s five feet deep.  Sand on my kids’ skin?  Pish Posh!  Absolutely no bleeping way!  Not on the tender skin of MY precious Angels.

So you ask me what beach to take your toddlers to visit?  I think that’s absurd!  Why in the world would you take a small child to the beach?  But before I offend all of you, let’s get to the driving force of my paranoia.  I made my own narrow escape from the jaws of Breech Inlet when I was thirteen.  Barely made it to the shore and I was swimming closer to Carolina Boulevard (Isle of Palms) than the Devil’s Snare (Breech Inlet.)  But I’ve stolen my life back from the Heaven’s a few times at this point so that’s only a small chunk of my fight with the beach.  (For the record, if you’re a sister paranoid parent visiting Charleston, just stay a mile or two away from Breech Inlet altogether and you’ll be fine.)

The real problem is the sand itself.  Until you’ve spent an entire day, your breakfast eggs with sand in them, your bologna lunch sandwich with a coating of sand and your chicken dinner sparkling with a nice grainy covering you won’t understand.  After a day filled with sand you go to rest your weary head only to find that the dog has been playing in the (read: nothing but sand and stickers) yard then used your bed to dry off, you really won’t grasp my hatred for this stuff.  That’s REAL life on the beach, where I grew up.

It wasn’t just my house either, a particular family, I’ll call them the Kennedy’s of Sullivan’s (because of recurrent family tragedies and sheer number of family members) had sand everywhere too.  That’s just how it was back then.  Living on the island wasn’t the status symbol it is today.  Oh hell no, as a matter of fact it was just the opposite.  We all had to try harder to fit into school on the mainland (Mt. Pleasant) because we were from the “island.”  I don’t think I’ve ever placed our specific societal niche in actual words before but it’s fair to say that we were different.  Most likely because our parents were dumb enough to let a seventeen year old drive the bus.  In retrospect the other parents must have thought we were un-cared for hoodlums.  I take pride in the fact that at least our outfits are still in style, we sported surfing t-shirts, shorts and flip flops, still my personal fashion statement.  Whereas those kids wore bell bottoms and shirts with rhinestones and no doubt have had to update their wardrobes more often than us “Island” kids.  We were somehow different from the other kids in too many ways, now I wonder if that wasn’t the intimidating factor?  Perhaps that’s why it was hard to invite other kids to spend the night?  No I think it was the sand.  I will admit that we never had a bunch of kids trying to steal our lunchboxes.

In my mother’s honor, and by the way no matter how many times I’ve killed her off in my books she’s alive and well in the Old Village, she kept a pretty organized ship back then on the island.  I still question her choices, for instance the straw carpeting, but all in all, my three brothers and I survived.  As a matter of fact the four of us have become rather normal, well adjusted humans.  I write Mommy Porn, the youngest is an injured, out of work EMT, another is a Charleston attorney and another married so well he hasn’t worked another day since college.  That’s normal right?  Probably not but if it isn’t I’m blaming it on the sand.

Now this tirade isn’t coming from nowhere.  My son is heading up to Spartanburg today with his sister to help her move apartments.  Apparently three sorority sisters in one apartment isn’t enough and they need an additional bedroom for another sister’s pink and green tchotchke’s.  So, childless for a few days I began to think of grabbing Chris and taking a mini vacation.  We’ve done everything there is to do within a two hundred mile radius, except the beach.  My mind rolled with it, we could take Ariel (our water baby-merle cocker) and a cooler and spend the day on the Island!  

 But you see that no longer works, because I’m not frigging thirty anymore!  To go to the beach I’d need to dig through the file cabinet and find Ariel’s shot records, then stop by Sullivan’s Island Town Hall and visit my old bus driver for a $35 license so she could be on the beach at all.  I’m not the rule breaker I used to be.  The cooler we’d need would have to be filled with about a case of Sam’s purified water, we’d need an umbrella –Chris burns.  We’d need towels, a blanket, and an ipod with speakers…which I don’t have so that means stopping at Best Buy for some speakers…as you can see it would take me a week to gather what I need to just endure one afternoon at the beach. 
But for poopies and giggles let’s assume I’ve done all these things and we’ve carried all this…crap… to the beach.  The day is over and the sun has drained what little energy we had in the first place out of us, we head back to the car dragging all of this...crap…through the sand.  Yes, to my Mommy wagon.  This is a replacement Mommy Wagon that I bought last year after the kids had all but turned the last one into a cheeto.  This one is pristine.  So without a garden hose how am I supposed to get Ariel and Chris back into the car?  Oh snap and that blanket?  Nope, I’ll be washing sand out of my house and car for the next six months, ain’t gonna happen.  I start fantasizing about yet another day trip to Biltmore instead.

I think by now you have the message that all of life’s wrong doings can be attributed to sand.  Yet still you pursue me, what beach?  Well since you insist, let me suggest Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina.  But as you rejoice in all that sand remember that there’s not a grain of it that I haven’t digested, slept with or violated in some unfashionable ( and possibly illegal) manner.

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