Author’s note: This is the thirteenth installment of a multi-part series. For an optimal reader experience, read the introduction, Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, Part IX, Part X, Part XI, and Part XII first. Subsequent installments will post daily.
The beach was windy as fuck today. Not that calming sea breeze that wraps you in cool tendrils of beach relaxation, but a land breeze, the one that feels like an underwater hair dryer and brings with it every mosquito, green head, and mutant horsefly within a hundred miles.
I drilled my beach umbrella extra deep, not wanting to be one of those poor idiots you see chasing their umbrella down the beach. There’s no dignified way to retrieve an umbrella caught in an updraft; it’s like clogging the toilet when you have company over and having to get the plunger from the basement.
Oh, you can’t relate to this simile because your plunger lived under the bathroom sink? Good for you. My parents kept ours in the basement so we’d have to walk-of-shame that fucker upstairs and through the living room every time we had steak for dinner.
ANYWAY, my umbrella held all afternoon, but that didn’t prevent me from becoming one of those poor, umbrella-chasing idiots, because within an hour of setting up camp, an umbrella at an unmanned spot next to me rocked free of its anchor and soared toward the water like a Greek javelin.
“Incoming!” I yelled, nabbing the umbrella right before it nailed an unsuspecting couple in the back of their heads.
They gave me that baleful look, the one that you give to poor idiots that conveys a combination of annoyance and sympathy. “Sorry about that,” I said. “It’s not my umbrella, but I wanted to stop it before it got to you.”
See, fellow beachgoer? I am not a poor, umbrella-losing idiot but a good Samaritan, intervening in the nick of time to prevent cranial injury.
I don’t think they bought it. “Thanks,” the guy said, his inflection 100 percent saying yeah right, dude.
I returned the projectile umbrella to the proper lounge site, and eventually, its owner returned from the water as well.
Look, I know it’s not nice to profile people, but she looked like the type of poor idiot who loses her umbrella on the beach. She was a stout woman with a moon tattoo encircling her belly button. At one point the moon tattoo was probably of the cute, crescent variety, but after too many kids and Paula Deen recipes, it was now more of a waxing Gibbous.
“Thanks for saving my umbrella,” Waxing Gibbous said. “We didn’t even see it blow away.”
I told her it was no problem, that umbrellas are notoriously tricky on windy days. We made similar banter for 30 seconds or so until her husband returned and handed Waxing Gibbous a green can. At first, I thought they were sharing a can of Rolling Rock, which struck me as so salt-of-the-earth romantic that I didn’t mind retrieving their umbrella. But then I saw it was a can of Canada Dry, and I went back to reading my book, disappointed.
At 2 p.m., I had to pee. This is a problem, because I hate peeing in the ocean.
I don’t know why. I get all of the logical points: the ocean is gigantic; trillions of marine life are already doing it; that warm spot you just felt is probably from the guy next to you. But I can’t shake the feeling that when I have to go take a leak, EVERYONE knows.
Because it’s like, you can’t just wade in and let it rip when there’s people around. It feels inconsiderate.
But conversely, when you drift away from the crowds a little and are just sitting there, isn’t it clear what’s going on? Hey everybody, look at that guy all by himself! I bet he’s peeing! He’s going to have pee all over his bathing suit when he’s done, and then he’ll sit in his chair for three more hours in his own pee-soaked bathing suit like it’s normal!
So fine, I crossed the molten sand and use the Port-o-Potty like a chump, which was almost more embarrassing.
Hey everybody, look at the guy using the Port-o-Potty! What a weirdo! He must be afraid to pee in the ocean! What’s wrong, weirdo? Got stage fright?
And this was about the time I realized if my thoughts on the beach were going to be clouded with worrying about retrieving umbrellas and where to pee, it was time to go the hell home. You win, beach vacation, I surrender.
And the fighter jets screamed overhead.