Friday, June 5, 2015

Beach Bummer

I went to the beach last weekend. People really love beaches. Supposedly, the epitome of a good holiday is to be lounging on the beach with a drink in your hand and your toes in the sand. Thus, is it heresy to say that I really don't like the beach? I used to. Family vacations in tropical locales were mostly spent splashing in the waves for hours on end, and I never seemed to grow tired of it. However, my modern adult mindset brings a new perspective. 

With my pasty-pale skin and propensity towards burns, I really wasn't built for long hours in the sun. When I was young, I didn't need to worry about cancer or wrinkles. A sunburn would hurt, but it would fade and leave me with a tan to be proud of! Now that I'm well aware that sun damage is forever, I have to be oh-so-much-more careful. 

To survive a day at the beach, I have to make a choice between two evils: to slather myself with sunscreen, or to bundle up like a bedouin. The former option leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth (usually figuratively, but sometimes literally) because sunscreen is just plain gross. It's sticky. I can feel it resting on top of my skin like an oil slick—even the oil-free varieties. If I put it on my scalp, it makes my hair stringy. If I put it on my face, it gives me zits. 

But if I choose to forgo sunscreen, I have to protect my skin some other way, usually with clothing. Yet I look forward to summer all year so I no longer have to wear confining winter clothes! To have to cover up from head to toe to shield myself from the summer sun seems like the cruelest irony!

To avoid the necessity of sunscreen, I've become quite fond of using a parasol when walking from place to place, but that becomes less effective when at the beach, where wind speeds are so high. And trying to keep a sun hat on my head in those conditions? Forget about it!

So half the fun of the beach has been sucked away by the necessity of skin protection, but my distaste for beach-going goes far beyond the ravages of ultraviolet light.

There's also the simple matter of endless discomfort. You're either too hot or too wind-blown, and you're getting covered with sand no matter what you do. Half your mind is staying vigilant to ensure that no part of your body has accidentally slipped out of the shade. But the other half of your mind is likely feeling bored, sitting around with nothing to do. Sure, you can read at the beach and enjoy the sounds of the waves and the birds...but you can also read at home and be a lot more comfortable.

If you're getting restless loafing on the sand, you can always go into the water, which brings up a whole host of new problems. It's cold! It's the ocean, after all, and it's never fun to get into. You get used to the water temperature after a while, but you never get used to stepping on broken seashells. Or squishy anemones. Or a jellyfish! (This has never happened to me—knock on wood).

I'll admit that playing in the waves can be kind of fun – for maybe 20 minutes! – but the price of that fun is a swimsuit full of sand. Even if you don't get driven butt-first into the ocean floor by an unexpected breaker (and good luck avoiding that!), you still somehow end up with sand embedded into your suit. Swimsuits are like flytraps for sand—once that stuff gets in, it never comes out again.

So passes the 20 minutes of fun. You then leave the water, your hair is a godawful mess, your bottom is dragging with the weight of ten thousand grains of silica, all your repulsive sunscreen has washed off and been replaced by a film of salt, and you're about to get the sunburn of your life. The end.

Epilogue: Can someone please tell me where's the fun in that?


mom said...

It is all fun. Oceans are fabulous.Period. They are so damn wet!