Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sh*t We Don't Understand: The Beach

Memorial Day is approaching, and with it the unofficial start of summer. Cue the flocking of people to shore towns all over the country for some good old-fashioned fun in the sun. Come Thursday we'll be inundated with "MDW...going to the BEACHHHHH!!!!" Facebook statuses. I'm sure all things Memorial Day and beach-related will trend on Twitter as well. While I'd be either out of my mind or downright inhuman to not welcome the beginning of summer with open arms, I'm going to have to get on the soapbox for a few minutes. If someone wants to sit me down and explain it all to me, then they can surely go ahead. But I just don't get why the beach is apparently so awesome.

You know that feeling you get when you're at some place and everyone else seems to be having a lot more fun than you? I hate that feeling. It's like you're at a party that you weren't invited to, a feeling rivaled in suckiness only by that of being sober in Philly's Olde City on a Saturday night. That's the feeling I get at the beach. Every time I've been there in my adult life, I've wished I were somewhere else. Someone had to finally take this stand. Kevin, John, and I originally planned to publish a roundtable-type discussion on this topic a year or so ago, but circumstances prevented it last summer. Now that the matter is relevant again, I can no longer wait. Having lived in New Jersey my entire life and spent the summers of 1989 through 1993 exclusively at the shore when my parents owned a motel in North Wildwood, I consider myself as qualified a judge as any.

Let's first get it out of the way that I don't hate the beach. I just don't love it the way so many people seem programmed to. I've had my share of fun on the beach in my life, but here's the thing: all of the actual "fun" things that there are to do on the beach can basically be done anywhere. What do I want to do if I find myself on the beach (besides the requisite ogling like any man is wont to do)? I want to throw a baseball or football around, get a game of wiffle ball going, read a book or newspaper, maybe listen to the iPod, take a quick dip, etc. Take any of these activities away from the setting of the beach, and guess what? They're no less fun or enjoyable. You can swim in a pool, you can play ball at any open field nearby, and you can read or listen to music basically anywhere. Is there anything inherently fun about the beach itself? To get to the beach, you've got to sit in traffic, find parking, overpay for the parking you find, deal with all the Ronnie and Sammi clones running around (although I'd find the real thing thoroughly enjoyable), and, most of all, immerse yourself in sand and the stench of seaweed all day. There are other ways to enjoy the outdoors and get a tan, people. Unless you aspire to be a fragrance millionaire, there are very few activities for which the beach is actually an immediate prerequisite.

But some people may say to this, "Wait a second, going to the beach is about enjoying putting your toes in the sand and being able to lay there and do nothing all day and listen to the crash of the waves! It's so great!" No, it's not great. I'm sorry, but sand f*ing sucks. It gets everywhere and makes your skin bone-dry. And doing nothing all day? Well, that also f*ing sucks. I'm not burning my free time just laying in the sun when I can be actually doing things in the sun. That eloquent crash-of-the-waves soundtrack? It's likely going to be drowned out by a mixture of seagulls and little whiny kids begging their parents to buy them an ice cream sandwich. Maybe I just lack the ability to turn my mind off like that, but I'm irked by people who are able to just lay there on a beach doing nothing without ever feeling supremely bored.

Some people may also say "Well, of course you don't like the beach that much. The Jersey Shore is a dump anyway." I can't disagree with that, but I would offer the rebuttal that I've set foot on some exquisite beaches in North Carolina and Cancun (which had blue water, I shit you not) without ever getting that overwhelming feeling of awesome that I'm apparently supposed to. When I was in Cancun on spring break in college, the novelty of it being 85 degrees out while it was 40 degrees back home wore off in about half an hour. Yet somehow the group of 16 girls we were on the trip with religiously laid out there, hour after hour, day after day, like they were auditioning for a Corona commercial. Meanwhile the rest of us guys hung out at the poolside bar getting to know people from all over the country, one tequila slammer at a time. I'd like to think the latter is a much better way to spend a trip than basically sitting in an outdoor tanning bed for 5 days.

One of this blog's values is that we'll give you our straightforward, (relatively) uncensored opinions and in the next breath acknowledge that those opinions aren't necessarily gospel. The reader can take in whatever we have to say and make what they want out of it after that. I'll freely admit I have more than my share of anti-beach biases. Like I said before, I spent five full summers at the shore as a kid and hated the fact that I was away from all my school friends. Even worse than my well-documented disdain for sand is my inability to avoid getting horribly sunburned. For a while I dated a girl who, despite an apparent love for laying on the beach and being a complete waste of humanity for hours on end, shifted her bitchiness into 6th gear whenever we were actually there. And finally, if I'm at the beach then there's a fair likelihood that I'm missing a Yankee game, which is a huge, huge strike from the get-go.

I leave you this evening with the reminder that no, I do not "hate" the beach (at least, not as much as this guy does). I just don't love it. For the record, I very much enjoy living in a coastal state and couldn't imagine living in an area of the country that would require a plane trip just to see the ocean. But this whole idea of "ohh I really need to go to the beach, I hate the winter because I can't go to the beach, I can't exist without the beach, blah blah blah" that you see so many people conveying? It just strikes me as utter nonsense. You know that Jimmy Buffett quote "if there is a heaven for me, I'm sure it has a beach attached to it" that you saw displayed on every single girl's bedroom wall or AIM profile back in college? Well, with due respect to the mayor of Margaritaville and his devoted Parrotheads, I ain't buying that. You know what, hold that thought for a minute. Maybe my heaven will have a beach after all - as long as there is a golf course and a casino attached to it.


  1. Yet somehow the group of 16 girls we were on the trip with religiously laid out there, hour after hour, day after day, like they were auditioning for a Corona commercial.

    I love this line. I'm not sure what I can add but perhaps I will think of something.

  2. I believe the proper terminology with all the cool kids these days is "DTS MDW", as in "Down the shore Memorial Day Weekend".

  3. I love the beach. You are sooo NOT invited to my shore house this summer!!!