A distant relative on my husband's side, upon meeting me for the first time, said, "Oh, but you don't like the beach, do you?" I bristled. Who, exactly, had said what, exactly? "I like the beach just fine!" I said. "I admit that taking care of small children on the beach isn't my favorite past time, but I like it."
Since then, I've had something to prove to myself, if no one else. So when this June morning dawned sparkling and perfect, I embraced my inner New Englander and declared we were off to wade and explore at the beach. I packed (oh, how I packed) the sunscreen, the water bottles, the blueberries, the blankets, the nets, the buckets, the chairs, the shovels, the bug spray. Even a magazine! For me! Oh, the optimism! I envisioned a rocky shoreline, tidal pools, and exploring marine life while collecting shells and seaglass.
Greg drove to the beach and even found a great parking spot. We got out of the car. Our happy chatter promptly sailed away on sharp gust of wind. Hmm. We unpacked the car, schlepped our things to the high water mark, and set up camp. The sun was no match for the wind. It was downright cold. But I gritted my teeth. Time for FUN. I looked around. We were on a honky-tonk strip. There were no tidal pools. There was no seaglass. There were, however, seabeercans littering the sand close to where four swimmers were frolicking in cut off jeans. I'm pretty sure they were drunk.
No matter what I bring to the beach up here, it's never the right thing. Buzzy and Rosie asked for jackets, but who packs jackets on a June afternoon? Soon, Rosie started screaming that there was sand in her eye. We repaired to the car, where I doused her face with the water bottles until she stopped crying. "It's warm in the car, Mommy," she said, happily settling into her car seat with nothing to do. "Back to the beach, honey!" I said brightly. "Let's go finish your sand kingdom!" I delivered the child to her father and tried to read but the wind whipped my magazine pages closed.
After 20 minutes of pretending to have hale and hearty fun, I left my New England family on the sand and went to bask in the car. Buzzy and Rosie lasted another 20 minutes. Then Greg appeared and asked for my help packing things up.
"Why do you bring me to the worst examples of New England?" I demanded later. "Why aren't you trying to showcase this area's best features? You are setting me up to fail."
"What?" Greg said, totally ambushed. "We had fun! It wasn't that chilly! You had fun at the beach, didn't you?"
I still don't know who said what about me to that distant relative. But whomever she was, I wish I'd believed her.