This has been a summer of a thousand vacations for me.
Well, it would be a thousand if you rounded up 2 to the nearest 1000.
But 2 is an unprecedented number of vacations for me to take within the same summer. Or even the same year.
And I must say, I really like it. I understand now why people enjoy being rich so much. There is much to be said about not having to sit in a fabric-covered cell for 9 hours every day or or having people demand that you write reports or generate metrics on things that no one cares about.
Imagine getting up every day and walking out onto the balcony to look out across the ocean, while the biggest source of stress being what to have for breakfast.
Yes, I could very easily get used to being rich. However, that is not in the cards and so the sooner I get over that notion, the better. In fact, I’m starting to wonder if it is even worth having vacations. After all, they give us a false sense of hope as well as an unhealthy level of unwarranted optimism.
And shedding ourselves of our accreted layers of stress and angst only makes it that much harder when we have to re-apply ourselves to the yokes of modern toil. As an analogy, if we were to polish and burnish and shine a turtle’s shell and remove from it all of the moss and dirt and fungi that have accumulated there over the years, would we be doing him a favor? No we would not. We would be making him a target in the next round of layoffs.
All that being said, I had quite a wonderful time. As you might have guessed, the Biff family spent a glorious week at the beach in a high-rise condo with a lovely balcony view of the beach.
I should pause and mention that I am not a beach person. I don’t care much for heat, sand, water, salt, and humidity, which are the five words that sum up being at the beach more than any other. One could also add: sticky, gritty, oily, and pungent, but that is just piling on and it likely to draw an “unsportsmanlike conduct” whistle from the official.
Oceans are fine in theory and I am a great admirer of oceans when observing them from afar. They have made us what we are today. But just as I am not eager to move back to the town I grew up in and get a job pumping gas at Mr. Johnson’s Dixie Oil gas station, I am not eager to return to the primordial soup from which we crawled many millennia ago.
The main thing I hate about going to the beach is that it requires slathering on one or two bottles of sunblock each time one wants to go down to the water’s edge. By the time I ooze down to the burbling surf, I am a Valdez-like oil slick waiting to happen. I am a magnet for sand and salt and seagulls. Soon I have bits of shell fragments, lost children’s sand shovels, strands of seaweed, and a sackful or two of sand stuck to me. I could be used as an industrial grinding implement.
Is this enjoyable?
No, it is not.
One’s first thought is to plunge into the surf and wash this collection of oceanic impedimenta from one’s person. However, in doing this, one instantly is demoted several levels down on the food chain. We are no longer top dog, the head of the pack, the head cheese, the big kahuna. We are hors d’oeuvres for anything from the mighty shark, down to the humble jellyfish. Crabs nibble on our toes. Fish brush past our legs like the 4th grade bully getting ready to give us a wedgie. Flesh-eating bacteria are rubbing their hands together (or whatever it is they use to rub together gleefully) and getting ready to break us down to our molecular sub-components.
So, no, we stay up on the sand like any sane person would. However, the sunblock and sand and salt and grit and goop are not protecting us from the aerial bombardment of the sun’s rays from heating us up to the point just shy of spontaneous combustion. After a mere 5 minutes we are panting like a racehorse trying to run the Kentucky Derby fast enough to avoid the glue factory.
So we drink water to stay hydrated. Water that, in spite of all our best efforts, is gritty and salty and tastes like it was scooped out of a tidal pool.
Mercifully, at some point someone will say, “Why don’t we head back up to the condo?”
I cannot be the one who says that, for I do not want to be labeled a “spoil sport” or a “stick in the mud” or an “old fuddy-duddy”. No, I must wait for someone else to say it.
But the moment they do, I single-handedly shoulder every bit of beach equipment we brought with us, and I hot-foot it (literally) across the blazing hot sands and break the four-minute mile back to the condo.
A cooling, invigorating, and de-greasing shower ensues. Clean, fresh clothes are donned. Hair is combed. I feel wonderful. In fact, I feel like an actual human being now and not like a piece of flotsam.
I saunter suavely into the living room with an unmistakable air of joie de vivre about me. I feel debonair. I no longer feel like a gritty oil slick.
And then someone says, “Hey, why don’t we all go for a walk along the beach before dinner?”