Remember going to the beach with just a Tab, a towel and some baby oil? When removing your cover-up turned heads, not stomachs? Then, you wouldn’t go anywhere near the Fudgy Wudgy guy. Now, you’re forced to chase after him like he’s stolen your infant. But you’d rather poke both your eyes out from bouncing boobies and other wayward body parts than cause an epic public meltdown over a lost ice cream opportunity. After all, you wouldn’t want anyone judging your husband over that.
If your once carefree beach days have succumbed to a series of “America’s Funniest Beach Videos”, this survival guide is for you.
When packing for the beach, you’ll want to find the right beach wagon to accommodate everything you’ll need – one the size of a yurt should do. In addition to beach chairs, beach umbrella, beach toys, beach snacks, beach blankets, beach towels, beach bag and any other beach thingamajig you can’t do without, you should definitely include reading material to ensure a family crisis arises every time you read. What can’t be jammed into your minivan can be strapped to the roof, including any teenagers traveling with you.
The best way to pack for baby is not to. Since she can’t tell the difference between Rice Cereal and sand, it’ll be more enjoyable for everyone if you avoid taking your infant to the beach until she reaches certain milestones. Like graduating from college.
At the height of the summer season, most hotels like to require a minimum night stay—I think it’s is up to 40 nights now—so that the cost of a weekend away is equivalent to a year’s tuition at Penn. If you are going for a day trip, be prepared to spend most of your day searching for a parking space. On busy weekends, many drivers are forced to drop their families off at the beach entrance and drive around town until they’re ready to head home. On holiday weekends such as the Fourth of July, forget it – your best bet is simply to walk to the beach from your home because you’re basically not finding anything closer. I mean your real home, like in PeeAye.
It’s important to choose beachwear that’s flattering, practical and least likely to result in a felony. Men have it easy—their fashion rules are loosely defined. Any suit that simultaneously covers golfer’s thigh tan and intergluteal cleft (“butt crack” in medical terms) is appropriate.
One rule that’s not negotiable is the one pertaining to the almighty Speedo. The New Jersey Office of Counter-Terrorism recently banned Speedos from public beaches. Why? Because nothing causes more widespread terror than a tight little package of sausage casing threatening to burst at any second. You see, Speedos command attention. No matter the host’s age or physical condition, Speedos are like car accidents—we don’t want to look but we simply cannot help ourselves. All eyes are drawn to the Spandex package, wondering if (when) it will burst wide open, what’s inside and how much damage will it cause. It’s all we can do but watch, wait, and shield any small children who could possibly be mortally wounded by the escaping appendage. And while we’re all zoning in on this loaded weapon, all around us hell is breaking loose – children go missing, waves take out swimmers and gulls consume every crumb of food on the beach. Even they know that people are too focused on the roaming tighty whitey to notice entire coolers being airlifted away.
There’s one exception to the No Speedo rule: if you’re from a foreign country or over the age of 50 and are completely delusional about your physical appearance, you can wear a Speedo (or a pair of toddler undies, they’re basically the same) as long as you register with attending lifeguards. It’s like Megan’s Law for the beach. Not because they think you’re a pervert – nnnoooo, that’s not it at all – it’s because they will need to summon back-up in case that shit bursts open.
For many women, trying on bathing suits is as enjoyable as being struck by a Megabus. Often, there’s a greater chance of that happening than there is finding a suit that flatters. If flattering is what you’re going for, you should probably go right back to the Twenties. Twenties the Age or Twenties the Era, it’s your choice. Either your body will be the tightest it’s ever been, or your woolen bathing costume will cover you from chin to shin. Again, it’s your choice.
Once there, your family will assemble like a cast of Suess characters waiting for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Take everything you own out of the minivan and shove it into your wagon. Don’t worry if your stuff stacks taller than you are—that’s why bungie cords were made. Dad will lug the Grinch Mobile while Mom-In-The-(Baseball)-Hat will balance all remaining accoutrements. Thing One and Thing Two, banished from their wagon, will walk “fourteen thousand miles” through “boiling hot sand” when they’re “sooooo tired” all they want to do is “just fall over and die”. Once they see water, however, this fatigue will immediately give way to boundless energy that will end precisely when the last boardwalk ride closes and they’re forced to walk fourteen thousand miles back to the car.
No birth control is as effective for beach-going singles as the visual of you waddling through the crowd like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man with Thing One hanging from your inner thigh, Thing Two bouncing a ball off your backside and Hop on Pop yelling to find a spot already. This visual, alone, has been cited as the prevailing reason why many people are putting off marriage and child-rearing until well into their sixties.
You’ll want to select a spot with proximity to the water so you can keep your eye on your children, but not so close that your husband can the ogle bikini-clad twenty-somethings who swarm to the lifeguard stand like green flies to ankles on a hot August day. For this reason alone, binoculars should never be packed, and any pair that inadvertently is should be given to the middle-aged woman sitting next to you who’s busting veins trying to catch a glimpse of Speedo.
You’ll want an unobstructed view, so be sure to consult the tide chart and select a spot close to the water, yet not so close that your entire family will be swept away at high tide. Be prepared that no matter how close you get to the water, an enormous family will come and set up camp DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF YOU with their regulation-size tent, 2 canopies, 4 beach umbrellas, overloaded beach cart, loud-talking cousin from Philly, 145 kids, a couple smokers and 26 chairs. And it’ll be mere feet from you, so you can barely raise your arm to take a drink from your Solo cup without hitting the back of their chairs. Then they’ll blare their country music, because clearly you don’t want to hear the gulls, the waves, the sounds of children’s laughter, your own conversation, the hallowed cries of Fudgy Wudgy, or – god forbid – your husband’s sobbing when Choco Tacos run out. No, if you’re anything like me, you’d much rather hear music that makes you feel like you’re in a scene from Deliverance, picking corn out of your teeth with a piece of straw, and not on a beautiful sunny beach.
I’ve had people wade up to their knees in water just so they can sit directly in front of me. I’m pretty sure “Don’t Set Up Directly in Front of Someone” is at the top of the Beach Rules sign, right after to “Don’t Block the Beach Entrance with Your Baseball Game” and “If Your Kid Doesn’t Stop Taunting Seagulls with Doritos I’ll Feed Him to the Gulls Myself”.
Eating on the beach is not advised as seagulls can detect the opening of a potato chip bag from as far away as Pittsburgh. If you do eat, tie down any loose children and huddle under the umbrella. This works best if the umbrella is open. Proper assembly is important to self-preservation, as nothing causes you to look more ridiculous than chasing an umbrella down the beach. Well, unless you’re chasing Fudgy Wudgy. Dig a deep hole using a sturdy instrument like the nearest off-shore driller. If your umbrella blows away, pretend it isn’t yours.
Nothing ensures a family crisis like cracking the spine of a good book on the beach. Should something get in between you and Fifty Shades of Explicit Sex Scenes, here is a tutorial on How to Get Out of a Beach Chair in Under an Hour:
First, raise both legs high in the air and take a deep breath. Exhale, lunge forward and lower your legs while shifting to your right. This will cause the chair to tip to the side, depositing you face down on the sand. Place both palms under your shoulders, lift your derriere and shuffle your straightened legs under your hips. Any husband who finds it amusing to slap your backside or call you a baby giraffe shall be drawn and quartered by all nearby mothers who themselves aren’t currently attempting to get out of a beach chair. Grab onto something solid like a cute lifeguard to hoist yourself up, avoiding unnecessary sound effects. Pause, and busy yourself by remembering how to breathe until your heart rate returns to normal, or the crisis is over.
Following this practical guide will enhance your beach-going pleasure, allowing you to spend more quality time with your family doing things like dragging your yurt fourteen thousand miles back across boiling hot sand and sitting in traffic until Thanksgiving.
Hey, at least you’ll be ready for the parade.
Copyright 2017 Kimberly Mackey (Bla Bla Blog). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.