Thursday, August 15, 2019
Lovin' beach vacation; hatin' sunscreen
It took a 55-foot keelboat and two 35-foot supply boats for the 27-man Lewis and Clark expedition to in 1804 traverse the continent.
I figure if the attempt were made today they’d need a third boat just for sun screen.
After an otherwise splendid week on Chincoteague Island, Virginia, I can report that a day at the beach is no longer a day at the beach.
It all starts with the messy, time-consuming and distasteful task of applying sun screen. Dermatologists recommend an SPF of at least 30 with some saying as high as 50.
Given doomsday climate change predictions, I imagine in five years it’ll be SPF 5000, but that’ll be moot because by then our idea of an adventure vacation will be anything outside and above ground.
The sun, our most necessary element in sustaining human life, is also becoming the element most likely to wipe it out.
It’s good for us; it’s bad for us.
So more and more a day at the beach is like unprotected sex with an old hooker.
Fun for the whole family!
I think the inefficiency of proper sunscreening is what gets me most. First of all, by this time of year we have a closet full of half-used sunscreens of varying potencies. So if I’m determined to get to the prudent SPF 50, I must resort to math.
I find one half-empty SPF 25 and two nearly done SPF 15s. That’s an excess total of SPF 60 — a waste of 10 perfectly good SPFs.
So by my way of thinking, I need to even the score by choosing to leave 10 percent of my body sunscreen free. I chose to sacrifice the thighs.
Wouldn’t you know it? That’s the same day my thighs got sunburned!
With us, sunscreen application is a family affair. We all gather on the porch and slather it on the parts of ourselves we can reach. Once that’s rubbed in, we form a little Conga line, oldest to youngest and do one another’s backs. Val then does mine.
It’s a little awkward so the only sound you hear is a reverse slurping sound a near-empty bottle makes when the contents evades the hole and you got to flip the lid and give it a shake or two.
When this is done, I head to the bedroom, close the door, pull down my swim trunks and secretly spray my testicles with shark repellent.
Don’t tell me you wouldn’t feel stupid going to all that trouble to avoid a little sunburn only to wind up standing there in the surf waving goodbye to a shark that’s swimming away with your balls in his mouth.
None of this would be worth it if the beach didn’t have the ocean and the ocean didn’t have waves.
I wonder if it has something to do with returning to our Darwinian roots, but stepping into a bracing ocean and allowing yourself to be pummeled by relentless waves is utterly euphoric.
Better still is being a dad to children, 18 and 13, who prefer having actual fun to appearing cooly aloof. Val, too.
The girls let these huge waves knock the literal snot out them.
I can’t think of any other physical activity that leads to a similar result that is so joyful.
Our little one — she’s nearly as big as me — was particularly ecstatic. I hope I never forget that look of wonder, fear and brave anticipation on her face as she felt and saw a monster wave about to crash down on her head.
Pity the youth too umbilically tethered to their devices to experience such electrifying recklessness.
Even the ominous appearance of jellyfish did not deter the fun and, in fact, led to a burst of female team building when they ganged up on me for joking the jellyfish were simply looking for compatible peanut butter fish.
We rode bikes, saw the native horses, hiked, dined, ran into some old friends and enjoyed some truly spectacular family time.
In short, we had a ball.
And thanks to my judicious use of shark repellent, the Chincoteague-area sharks did not.