In my on-going effort to change my hermit ways and, being influenced by living in Florida; I thought about driving over to the beach. I would join the plebiscites in their worship of the sun and sand. Come to think of it, I don’t like the beach; I never liked the beach. Sand gets into places I can barely reach. And it lasts through a week’s worth of showers which leads to embarrassing public scratching and tugging in “R” rated places. Or, perhaps this dislike was initiated by my frequent, pre-teen, summer visits to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, NY.
As a child of two immigrants; my parents sought out the beach like pilgrims seek Mecca. Come the summer, Coney Island! There we were…sea waves AND waves of humanity; all jockeying for the same small spot of perfect sand real estate. The blankets, the umbrellas (to shade us from the very sun we were supposed to be worshipping), the meals on wheels, the smoking—everybody smoked. Oh, remember the Sun Dew sales guy? You paid ten cents for a half of a pint of orange colored hot water. Ten cents? You could buy a hot dog for that.
For some reason, my mother always made Tuna Salad on Wonder Bread and chocolate milk in a thermos. It was a half hour (non-airconditioned) ride on the Brighton Beach subway. In the heat at the beach, her tuna salad had a shelf life of about 15 minutes. Salmonella was undiscovered back then. The chocolate milk had turned to brown cottage cheese within minutes of arrival. So, come lunch time, my cousins and I imbibed in Sun-Dew, toxic tuna and lumpy brown milk. The day typically ended with the whole family back on the overheated subway suffering from “beach-lung” sand in our shorts and severe diarrhea.
Those memories are still too intense. Forget the beach, I think I’ll clean out my sock drawer today; or maybe try the Hampton pool?