Sunday, June 29, 2008

Column: Drawing his line in the sand

There comes a day every year, usually sometime in April, when my wife, Theresa, gets up, opens the kitchen window and looks longingly out over the lawn. There’s a vague outline along the driveway of where the snow banks had stood just weeks or sometimes even days before, and yet there’s something that has crept into the air that’s undeniably … summery.

“It’s time to go to the beach!” she’ll declare.

And with that, the cooler is packed, the folding chairs are tossed in the trunk and she’s off to the seaside. If I’m lucky, there will be a rainy day sometime in July so I can see her long enough to remember what she looks like.

Or at least that’s how it seemed for a time, a situation resulting from our decidedly mixed marriage: She, as you’ve probably surmised, is a beach person, and I tended to look upon the beach — and the accompanying sand in my shorts, eyes and food — as the leisure-time equivalent of being waterboarded.

I attribute this at least in part to the differences in our upbringing. Theresa’s a Massachusetts native for whom easy access to the ocean has always been a given, whereas where I grew up in New York, the closest ocean was about 75 miles away at Jones Beach. Which is fine, except that driving to and from Jones Beach during the summer is sort of like trying to evacuate a dense urban center during a nuclear emergency.

This is probably why when the temperature soars, my wife wants to immediately head to the beach, and I want to head to an air-conditioned movie theater showing a movie about the beach. (It could even have Matthew McConaughey in it — I’m not picky.) And given that early in our relationship I’d already rolled over and pretended to love hiking and animals — I was just that gaga — I felt a need to stand my ground on the beach issue.

But as with most things, when kids came along, that changed — turns out they’re impervious to cold water, don’t seem to taste sand when it gets mixed in with peanut butter and remain convinced that they will eventually build a wall of sand that can hold back the entire Atlantic Ocean. In short, I’m outnumbered, and my choice is to spend my summer weekends at the beach with my family or at home alone, riding the lawnmower around in circles as the cats stare at me out the window, wondering why I pretend to like them.

So I’ve learned to compromise: Each summer I gather up my baseball cap, sunglasses, sandals, sunscreen and waterproof radio and lobby that we head for a beach within walking distance of an actual restaurant. And watching Theresa and the kids have such a good time usually rubs off on me just enough to forget the sand in my shorts, the sunscreen in my eyes and the fact I have just walked half a mile with chairs and coolers strapped to my body like some sort of bizarre beach-accessory Transformer.

Besides, it’s not like they don’t humor me at all — we do go to the movies during the summer too. We’ve got to do something on those rainy days.

[This column appeared originally in GoodLife magazine. Visit GoodLife on the Web at]

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1 comment:

Bar L. said...

Loved this! As a native Californian that's lived near the ocean all her life, I am with your wife on this one :)