Enjoy the beach

August 20, 2009 at 19:39 (fuengirola) (, , , , )

There used to be a time when I thought myself odd not to enjoy the beach in summertime. Everybody else did, and those who claimed not to, I realised, had the kind of bodies swimsuits were not designed for. Although I now fit into this category, it is with no sense of shame that I occasionally parade my withering body along the sand. It is the boredom of lying practically naked on a towel and allowing my skin to be toasted by the sun that curtails my enjoyment of the beach.

I like white. This is not a racist statement. I like black too, and brown, and all the tones in between, and if some tourists from another planet were to appear on the beach with bright green skin, I’m sure I’d like them too. It’s just that I’ve been white since a very early age and see no reason to change.

Many others are evidently as bored as I am by lying on the sand and doing nothing, and they alleviate this boredom by standing at about five metres from each other and hitting a ball over and back with wooden bats. There are no rules, other than to keep the ball bouncing over and back, over and back, over and back, until one of them misses and then the game gets marginally more exciting than doing nothing.

The beach can be a particular trying time for parents of young children, especially fathers. They are expected to build sand castles with their children, but most fathers, I’ve noticed, attempt to build sand castles despite their children. It becomes a battle of wills between father and child, the father determined to amuse himself by building the sand castle and the child determined to amuse himself by destroying it before it is built.

The mother, needless to say, takes no part in this charade. She is too busy lying on the sand trying to change the natural colour of her skin.

Being a grandfather, I find myself bullied into accompanying my grandchildren to the beach once in a while, and this I do with great trepidation. Will they behave themselves this time or not? Will they haul me down to the water’s edge and play with me like normal children and normal grandparents on the beach, or will they embarrass me by behaving like little monsters, because they know other people are watching and I’m forced to smile through it all?

I like the beach in winter, when there’s nobody else there and the sun is not shining, and one can stroll along the water’s edge with one’s dogs, listening to the sound of waves breaking on the shore rather than a thousand voices.
In a more rational age, we will look back on the strange customs of mankind in the recent past. We will wonder why women were considered more elegant in high heels, for example, or why many people stuck burning tobacco in their mouths and inhaled the smoke. We will walk along our beaches in wintertime, the height of the holiday season in hot climates, and laugh.

By Vivion Kelly
Sur in English

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