Watching “Those People” at the Beach

dam thoughts, barry currin, beaverdamusa.comI go back to the days when you really could step on a pop top. Those curled, tear-drop shaped metal landmines were the No. 1 enemy of bare feet. I distinctly remember when the new pop tops debuted. People hated them. In an act of utter defiance, some people would bend the little tabs back and forth until they came off just so they could continue to toss them on the ground, I guess.

Those were the same people who boycotted unleaded gasoline by ramming a broom handle into their gas tanks so the nozzles that dispensed “regular” or “ethyl” would still fit. They were also the same people who disarmed the newfangled seatbelt buzzer on those same cars.

You know the type: stubborn, contrary, obstinate. I have found out now they travel in packs and go by “Grandpa.”

I have also found they congregate at the beach. They are easy to identify: gray-haired, portly, saggy, older middle-aged men with an older middle-aged wife, traveling with their daughter, son-in-law and a couple of pre-school grandkids.

The dead giveaway, though? His ferocious, hellish sunburn accompanied by the following conversation.

“Honey, you’re getting a little pink.”

“Quit nagging me. You’ve been on me the whole 7 hours we’ve been out here.”

“Dad, I think Mom is right. Let’s put some sunscreen –“

“– Get that goop away from me! I’ll leave the lotion rubbing-on to you and that husband of yours. Now mind your own business!”

“Look, daddy! Grandpa is all red like a fire truck! Why aren’t you all red like a fire truck?”

Of course, daddy doesn’t hear the fire truck comment because he is asleep. He is asleep because he had to carry an 80-pound tent while pulling a gargantuan, beach chair-spilling cart a mile from the public parking lot. He then spent 2 hours putting it up, was buried in the sand 4 times, and served as general contractor for the building of 6 sandcastles. And that was all before he was told to trek back to the mini-van because good ol’ Grandpa forgot his lucky Roll Tide Koozie (or Big Orange, Gator, Bulldog or War Eagle if you prefer).

Son-in-law did, however, have the good sense to submit to a slathering of SPF Infinity despite Grandpa chiding, “We’re going to the beach. Aren’t you going to try and get some sun there, boy? You’re white as a sheet.”

You’ve been to the beach. You’ve seen them as they lug enough equipment to make the D-Day invasion at Normandy look like a casual walk in the sand. The misery level at their family encampment is a solid 10 and gets punctuated with every jellyfish sting, sandy bathing suit and soggy Oreo. The arguments about politics and football are drowned out only occasionally by the squalling grand kids fighting over the last Juicy Juice, which neither has any intention of drinking – only possessing.

Of course, we all have a little bit of them inside of us. Going to the beach isn’t easy; and regardless of the circumstances, it can be a challenge to make it relaxing or fun.

But sometimes, the fun is found in something as simple as raising a Solo cup to the son-in-law when he cracks his first smile of the day around 2 p.m., and says, “Leave Grandpa alone. He’s fine. In fact, he still looks white as a sheet to me! Aren’t you going to try and get some sun there, Grandpa?”

About Barry Currin

Barry tries to be funny and poignant, and he's usually satisfied when he succeeds with one or the other. (Being both is awesome. And sometimes that happens.) Email him:

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