Gurney's Inn
August 16, 2006

Jerry's Ink


Jerry went for his annual walk on the beach yesterday instead of writing his column. So, we reprint this gem from 2003 when he wrote about . . . walking on the beach. Talk about déjà vu all over again!

So, I took my annual beach walk the other day. To be truthful I only walked about 100 feet and then gave up. But let me say that even with that limited experience, I can once again safely proclaim that this walking on the beach stuff is as overrated as ever. In my short time walking, I got an incredibly accurate picture of those people who beach walk.

If they walk alone, fast, with their fists up on their chest staring straight ahead like zombies, they mistakenly believe that this is exercise and they are walking away from death. Get this! They're walking in soft sand with a 102 degree sun unmercifully beating down on their heads, their hearts are beating so fast that they are threatening to pop out of their mouths, they're perspiring like Teddy Kennedy trying to choose between a blond or a doughnut, and this they think is healthy?

Another thing I can't understand about beach walkers is why they're so damn friendly. They're always smiling! People who have lived in the same apartment building in Manhattan for 25 years and haven't so much as nodded at their next door neighbors even once, are walking on the beach with these goofy smiles on their faces saying, "Hi. How are you? Great day isn't it?" to perfect strangers upon whom they will never set eyes on again.

It's like they think we're all part of this big, happy, stupid family walking on the beach. Everyone looks real silly because there is not one single part of the beach that is level, so everybody has at least one foot sunk in the sand and is puffing and limping and looking like Dr. House from the television series on Fox TV.

Don't you find it amazing that no one in history ever took a walk on the beach and kept it a secret? My wife, The Beautiful Judy Licht, suggests every day that I join her on her beach walk. I smile and say "Er . . . er . . . no, not today." But what I'm thinking is, "I would rather stick pins in my eyes than walk on the beach."

People think walking on soft sand is some sort of badge of honor.

The first thing they say to anyone who will listen when they come back is, "I just took the nicest walk on the beach."

At night when they go to a dinner party, Ethel will start the conversation with, "When Charles and I were walking on the beach today, he said . . . "

Or Charles will say, "There we were, taking a nice walk on the beach, when Ethel accidentally stepped on and crushed a piping plover. What a mess, getting the plover guts cleaned off from between Ethel's chubby toes. But it was so, so pleasurable to take that walk."

If it's so pleasurable, why don't they keep it to themselves? Sex is a million times more pleasurable than a friggin' walk on the friggin' beach but you don't find Ethel starting a sentence at a cocktail party with the words, "When Charles and I were having wonderful sex this afternoon, he said . . ."

No, no one talks that way about sex anymore except on cable television. Couples walk on the beach each with a different idea in mind. She's talking about a new avocado dressing that she wants to try at lunch. He's mentally undressing his new assistant Velma.

Guys rarely talk to each other when they walk on the beach. They stare at women and try to suck in their stomachs and imagine that their tans make them look like Greek gods. Women, on the other hand, love to walk on the beach with each other. They walk in twos and one talks and the other listens.

I imagine that the conversation is about the men in their lives. I imagine there has never been a beach walk in the history of beach walking where both women were happy with their lives. What you get is one woman who has just broken up or is contemplating breaking up with her boyfriend or husband and is miserable. She is the one walking closest to the beach side. The other one, walking on the ocean side, is talking to her, listening and steering her to keep her from walking out over her head into the ocean like James Mason did in A Star Is Born.

It is a sad commentary on life that by the next beach walk, the woman who is miserable one week will have met Mr. Right and the woman who was happy the week before will be pouring out her troubles.

When my beach walk was over, I couldn't help but think about the days when I prowled the beach at Coney Island. I was 16 years old — a Greek (or is that Geek) god. I would walk from Bay 10, which was the "Italian" beach, for about two miles to Bay 4, which was the "Jewish" beach. I walked because the word was, "The Jewish girls are easy." On my way, I hardly noticed all the 16-year-old Jewish boys walking past me to Bay 10. Why? Because they had heard, "The Italian girls are easy."

We were both wrong. No one was easy. I've hated beach walks ever since.

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