“I don’t really get this fascination that people have with the ocean.”
—Larry David, and me
Like Larry David, I’ve never really understood the fascination that most people have with the ocean—much less the beach.
In all my 24 years, I’ve never once jumped at the thought of going to a beach. For me, the beach is kind of like the “Game of Thrones” series. While I suppose—in theory—I can understand why large masses of people would enjoy it, for some reason or another, it does nothing for me whatsoever. And I hardly feel any pressure to try and join in on the hype, either.
Different strokes for different folks, as they say.
As a rule of thumb, we Scotti men are not a very nautical bunch. It’s not in our DNA. My father doesn’t like the beach. My grandfather never liked the beach. And I’d go out on a limb and guess that my great-grandfather, God rest his soul, wasn’t taking too many weekend trips to the Hamptons in his day.
I can’t understand why we’re all supposed to LOVE the beach, either. People talk about the beach as if it’s thing we’re supposed to universally love, like ice cream and fleece. Then again, I’m lactose intolerant, so it might just be me. Whatever the reason, whenever I attempt to weigh the pros of going to the beach against the cons, it’s never long before reason prevails and I find myself bypassing the whole thing altogether.
Here’s a little bit of what goes through my mind:
Maybe I could get behind the whole beach thing if beaches typically existed, I don’t know, in your backyard or living room. Or anywhere remotely close to where you live. If I lived in a beach town—where the entire village revolved around the shore—then, sure, I’d indulge in a short walk to the ocean from time to time.
But when you live in a large metropolitan city, going to the beach tends to be a full daylong “thing;” it’s a whole ordeal. You can’t just hop on the subway and take it a few stops to the nearest beach. City planning doesn’t typically work like that, unfortunately.
If you want to go to the beach, it almost always requires a car ride and hours of hellacious “beach traffic” on the way. In most cases, by the time you actually get to the beach, the sun is already setting. And the sound of someone’s less-than-stellar taste in music throughout the whole car ride doesn’t help. Especially when your buddy who uses words like “classic” to describe Coheed & Cambria decides that it’s his turn to DJ.
Beaches are dangerous.
I have no trouble admitting that I’m utterly petrified of the ocean. For starters, it’s filthy. While it might be a refreshing place for humans to dip their legs into or walk along—keep in mind it also serves as nature’s toilet bowl for the organisms that live in it.
On top of being straight-up gross, it’s also extremely dangerous. Due to warmer waters in the ocean last year, the number of shark attacks hit a record 98 incidents, six resulting in human fatalities. You know how many humans died from shark-related deaths inside swimming pools? Zero.
And the danger doesn’t end there, my friends, not by a long shot. Even the sandy part of the beach can be dangerous, especially if you’re not wearing shoes. Aside from there being large shards of glass and syrignes strewn about the sand, you’ve also got to be diligent as to not step on any used condoms and risk contracting some horrific disease through the foot.
Beaches require far too much planning.
Beaches are a catch-22 when it comes to the whole “relaxing” thing. While the idea of laying down on a beach doesn’t require much action, getting there involves days and days of planning. Think about it. If you want to spend a day on the beach you’re going to have to bring food. And then you’re going to have to bring plastic bags for the food and electronics, to protect them from the sand. And then you’ll need more plastic bags to put around those plastic bags.
Then you’ll have to bring sunscreen, towels, magazines—and a whole bunch of other shit that you’re probably not going to use at the beach (but bring, anyway). All I’m saying is, for a place that is supposed to symbolize an escape from responsibility, in reality, it’s anything but.
It’s too hot.
If people love stewing in their own sweat (and sand) for hours on end, why does anyone even spend money on air conditioning? I mean, come on. I guess I missed the memo that declared extreme heat to be a condition of “comfort.” Eh, it’s not for me.
If beaches were a controlled, comfortable temperature—like 72 degrees and breezy—then it would be a different story. But literally every part of the beach on a normal beach day tends to be scalding. You can’t even truly enjoy a cold one, because once you rest it in the blistering sand for a couple of minutes, your next sip is like drinking a can of piss.
My physique is far from remarkable.
Believe it or not, I’ve never been elated by the idea of having to sit shirtless in a public place for an extended period of time.
Maybe if I had a Herculean physique, I’d feel compelled to frolic in the surf with my shirt off. But I weigh like 145 pounds and I’m built like Mick Jagger in the budding stages of puberty. It’s not like I’m going to walk past some chick tanning chest-down on the sand and sweep her off her feet with my muscle definition.
There are dudes out there who spend their entire winters at the gym, twice a day—at all sorts of ludicrous hours—with the sole intention of perfecting their “beach bods.” I spent my winter on the couch watching Frasier reruns and trying to figure out how many different foods I could successfully pair with Nutella. As you can see, I’m always waging an uphill battle at the beach.
Beaches are not especially comfortable.
Personally, I don’t find beaches especially comfortable. Put it this way: Rarely can I justify leaving my bed and air conditioning to throw a towel on some sand next to an abandoned diaper (or a syringe) and bake in the sun for a few hours.
I’ve just never seen the great allure in that. To get outdoors, I could grab a pack of Rizlas and sit on my fire escape. I don’t need the beach. And, I’ll tell you this much, I certainly don’t need the sand.
Frankly, if I was looking to switch up the scenery and spend my day laying around a body of water, I’d much sooner find the nearest pond or lake. It’s the same premise as the beach without the constant threat of sand making its way into every orifice of your body. And me, I’m like a sand magnet. I could wear a pair of spandex leggings UNDERNEATH sweatpants to the beach and I’ll still be picking sand out of the wedge of my ass for days after I leave.
So, hey, you can keep your beach.
I’m not going to criticize you for going there, or poke fun at the exorbitant amount of money you spent on your last beach vacation. I will simply accept the fact that beaches are not the place for me and carry on with the rest of my summer, sans-sand. The moment beaches start offering AC, television and carpetting, I’ll reconsider my view on the subject.
Happy beaching to you, though!