August 08, 2007
THE SUMMER OF '07
Sunday was a day you wanted to hold on to . . . every hour . . . every minute . . .every second.
The sky was actually that kind of fake cartoon blue one remembers from old Disney movies. I desperately tried to make Sunday last forever. It was summer to me. I failed. Sunday went . . . summer is going. There's nothing we can do about it. I counted the minutes as they were slipping away. Then the sun fell into the sea and the shadows covered the beach and the day was over. Just another summer memory.
On Sunday I went down to the beach for the first time this year. I think beaches are overrated. I spent my youth at the greatest beach of them all: Coney Island. Nothing could hold a candle to Coney Island.
Maybe it was all about my being 16 years old at the time. On Sunday my family talked me into going into the water because it was "refreshing."
I should have known that "refreshing" meant one would freeze one's testicles off if one ventured in. I went in.
A tiny wave knocked me down. I felt my bathing suit starting to slide dangerously down my hips. Even I laughed.
After I climbed out of the water, I stretched out on my blanket and looked up at the sky, which was filled with the private planes of billionaires and those who are challenged and must go through life as merely multi-millionaires. All had paid homage to Hillary Clinton over the weekend and were now going off to their homes on Park Avenue. They had squeezed past each other to touch her hem. They were encouraged that she had remembered their names and had thanked them for their checks. Something in her eyes told each and every one of them "Even though I will tax all those others, I will always have a loophole for you."
I wanted to take my annual beach walk but I didn't want to spoil the day by walking in a wet bathing suit and chafing my sensitive skin.
I can once again safely proclaim that this walking on the beach stuff is as overrated as ever. I've written this before but I've 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 the sun unmercifully beating down on their heads and they're perspiring like Eliot Spitzer realizing he is about to be on the wrong end of an investigation by Andrew Cuomo. 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 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 smiling and limping and looking like Chester from the old "Gunsmoke" TV series.
Don't you find it amazing that no one in history ever took a walk on the beach and kept it a secret?
They think walking on soft sand is some sort of badge of honor.
The first thing they say 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, pleasurable walk on the beach, when Ethel accidentally stepped on and crushed a piping plover. What a mess. It took half an hour to get the guts and feathers out from between her toes."
If it's so pleasurable why don't they keep it to themselves? Sex is a million times more pleasurable than a frigging walk on the frigging 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 HBO. 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.
You rarely find two guys walking together on a beach. Unless, of course, it's Two Mile Hollow, where you can't tell the guys who are walking from the undercover cops who are working.
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 women 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.
I've hated beach walks ever since.
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