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Last weekend Chuck and I and a friend went to the beach. Although I am a big fan of the ocean, I'm not really beach girl. Beaches generally have way too many people on them for me, but a confessional has way too many people on it for me so it goes without saying that the average beach in summer far exceeds my crowd tolerance. I went to the beach because my friend, who needed a nice day, wanted to go there and I was more than willing to make a small sacrifice for her under the circumstances. So, to the beach we went.
My problems with a day at the beach extend beyond my problems with crowds of people. Let's face it, people often go to the beach to lie in the sun and get a nice tan. Personally, I hate just lying in the sun and I have zero desire to tan. The sun I get and any resultant tan is whatever I get hiking, camping, working outdoors, or walking. The logical outcome of this is that I always have what we used to call a 'Bozo' tan, meaning that I have bizarre tan lines that in no way resemble anything you'll see in a sunblock commercial or on the pages of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit addition. I have t-shirt lines, shorts lines, and sock lines that would be the bane of any self-respecting woman. Exposure to the sun is ridiculously dangerous and the chances of my being invited to any event requiring that I wear a strapless evening gown are zilch, so I don't worry about it much. Even when I was younger and cared about things like having an attractive bikini tan line I still hated sunbathing. I get hot, uncomfortable, and sweat like a race horse. I don't enjoy reading on the beach either. I can think of about a thousand venues where I would prefer to be reading and a heck of a lot more comfortably at that. Then there is the sand. I like sand well enough, I just don't like it in my food, my drink, my ears, my hair, or any place on my person where it might cause me the kind of discomfort at which sand excels. I sat on the beach in a chair and never went in the ocean and still ended up covered with the stuff. Did I mention that I sweat like a racehorse? My scalp sweats, my neck sweats, my back and chest sweat, and everywhere that I am damp collects sand like fruit collects flies. The beach is usually windy, which places directly next to the ocean generally are, and the sand is picked up and flung at you with every gust like rice at a wedding. I get covered with it and I really, really don't like it. I would rather get filthy dirty than covered with sand any day. The dirt never chafes me or makes me itch and it washes off far more easily. Sand is harder to wash off than than permanent black marker.
I do enjoy walking on a beach so long as there is something interesting to look at other than people. Driftwood is nice, shells can be fascinating so long as they are diverse. Usually it is just one half clamshell after another, which makes me feel like Alice and Wonderland meets the walrus, only far less entertaining. The beach on this particular day was covered with dead trees and tree parts. It looked for all the world as if the ocean had uprooted a couple of thousand of them, played with them for awhile, and then tossed them on the beach when it got bored. It looked as if it had been planned by someone who went to the apocalyptic school of decorating. Kind of depressing.
My friend suggested a walk, to which I agreed on the provision that we walk away from the people, not towards more of them, so we began walking toward the area where the beach nearly disappeared and narrowed into a wide lagoon. Not a lot of sunbathing space on this end. As we walked along I noticed a small group of men sitting on some beached logs ahead of us. One was sitting with his back to us, he had long golden hair and a bronzed back that might have been sculpted by Michelangelo on one of his best days. As we got closer it became abundantly clear that his back wasn't the only bare part of him, he was completely nude. Now, I'll admit to being rather straight-laced, but I'm no prude. Nudity is not something that upsets or horrifies me. I've walked and run on beaches on both coasts and in the gulf of Mexico and suddenly come upon nude beaches and I'm not easily shocked. Everyone was perfectly friendly and went about their business and didn't seem offended by my clothing. At that moment the man got up, turned around, stretched lazily, and headed for the water. It occurred to me that the major difference in this experience was that most of the nudists I had literally run across in the past were, well...pretty ordinary. This guy was a Greek God, all golden lean muscle with nary a paunch, roll, or sag, and a drop-dead gorgeous, classic face. He dove into the frigid water and started to swim across. All I could think of was the Greek hero, Lysander, swimming across the Hellespont to be united with his beautiful lover. Of course, judging by the group on the beach, this guy's lover probably had only one X chromosome, but hey...who am I to judge? My friend suggested that perhaps, we should not be looking at him with our mouths hanging open. I told her that I was an artist, and as such, I was looking at him with a non-prurient appreciation for the rare beauty of the human form. She snorted and replied that she was no artist, so she would just say that she was looking at him because he was hot, but we could probably both be super models, strip naked, jump into the lagoon, and pretend we were drowning and he would just keep on swimming. She got that too. Well, we've both been around for awhile. We turned our backs and headed towards the end of the beach where there were no naked gods feeling somewhat depressed. There is no doubt about it, being a woman can be full of small disappointments, and a walk on the beach isn't always what its cracked up to be.
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