Draw the shades, turn on the A/C, open a book and pretend it’s winter!

Coney Island – who needs it?

I just don’t get it. Going to the beach in the summertime. Enormous crowds. Coating your body in greasy sunblock, which attracts layers of sand and gnats like flypaper. And beneath your unguent veneer, perspiration, being liquid, follows the path of least resistance, which is to say, flows downward, where it will puddle around body parts you didn’t think of basting, previously.

Salty, slimy, sea-weedy, jelly-fishy water provides dubious relief from the baking sun. A plunge, rogue wave, and the next thing you know you’re swallowing a mouthful of petroliated swill that the kid splashing next to you is probably peeing in.

After your cursory attempt at “cooling off,” you trudge back through the muckety muck and hordes of people, searing the soles of your feet in the process, cooking your body in the sun once again, trudge back to the blanket you’d only just abandoned — the sand-encrusted pastel-hued swath of cotton that is flapping wildly in the sea breeze — the blanket you’d left unattended, sans anything valuable, while you were away “cooling off.”

Remember when you were a kid and your father would slip his wallet and wristwatch into his canvas loafer, worry-free,  just before you all made a mad dash for the surf?

Which begs the question: Where do you put your money nowadays when you go for a swim? I’d really like to know (not so I can steal it, mind you, because you won’t find me at the beach in June, July and August. I’m just curious).

And, so, anyway, now that you’re back to your blanket, you notice that the salty waves have stripped the sticky glaze from your body. You collapse on your blanket and are forced to repeat the exhausting suntan lotion ritual all over again. Either that or get skin cancer.

I suppose if you’re a Nietzschean — although I wouldn’t call Thus Spake Zarathustra a beach book, exactly — and hold to his theory of “eternal recurrence,” that is, accepting you are destined to repeat every single action that you have taken during your entire lifetime, you probably would not regret repeating the sunblock slathering ritual over and over again, year after year, every weekend of every summer for the rest of your natural life.

Things could always be worse. You might love the summer and also live in South Africa, where beaches are even more crowded than in New York:


As for me, I’ll be relaxing in my apartment for rest of the summer with the A/C cranked up, reading Joan Mitchell: Lady Painter, the book I’d mentioned in my previous post, which happened to arrive at my office in an Amazon.com box last week, a surprise gift from J.C.

Talk about instant gratification. What a guy. Who needs the beach.

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