Saturday, June 1, 2013

Women And Beaches

Well, it’s that time of year again. The day we look forward to all year.

No, not the start of Hurricane Season.

The start of Beach Season!

Seeing two friends (both Female) post about the beach, one posting photos of her already at the beach and the other saying that she will be there soon, made me start thinking about one of the other major differences between men and women – how we feel about the beach.
To be honest, and since this isn’t a scientific poll, this post may not be about the differences in attitude about the beach for all men and women, but there is a big difference in beach attitudes with this particular man and almost all of the women he’s ever encountered.

I was born and raised in Erie, PA, a city situated on Lake Erie (makes sense, right?). Erie has a beach. Now it’s decidedly not Destin, Clearwater or even Biloxi, but it is a beach and when you’re a kid and you don’t know any better, well, you’re a kid that doesn’t know any better.
My mom and I, sometimes with or without other family members would pack up our car on many Summer Weekend days and drive to “The Peninsula”, a weird little mass of nothing that jutted out from Erie into the Lake.

It was actually a treat when I was a kid. At the entrance to The Peninsula, there was an amusement park called “Waldameer”, again not Disney World, but when you’re a kid and you don’t know any better, well, you already know the rest.
Incidentally, “Waldameer” is now called “Waldameer Water World”, in case you ever decide that you want to leave Louisiana, forgo Gulf Shores or Destin, and plan to spend a fun-filled vacation in Erie, PA.

Those weekend days spent with my mom at the beach are memories that I will always treasure.
As I’ve grown older however, my attitudes about the beach have evolved.

When I left Erie and moved to Tampa, I spent a considerable amount of time at Tampa Bay’s array of beaches: Clearwater and Indian Rocks Beaches in particular. Even though it was about 3 hours away, I also made many trips to Daytona Beach, the first beach that I ever saw people drive their cars on.
Now however, the beach just doesn’t do it for me.

Oh sure, I can take the beach in small doses. Go for a romantic, sunset walk with a special someone (although not this year). Walk on the beach and experience the true meaning of vacationing: sightseeing/people watching (I am still a man after all and a certified female bathing suit connoisseur to boot).
But, spending a week at the beach – not my idea of a good time.

About 5-6 years ago, after making yearly pilgrimages to Destin, Gulf Shores, or other beaches since I moved to Louisiana, my “Significant Other” (Note to self: Check Facebook to see if that is an actual “Relationship Status”) excitedly exclaimed, “I know where we’re going on vacation this summer! It’s not Destin, and you’re going to love it! This will be the best vacation ever!”
Now, to be honest, I’ve never said any unkind words about Destin and, since the best vacation that I ever took was in 1990 (and I had already told this story to her), I actually was excited too.

For the rest of in the audience, the best vacation that I ever took was in late Summer of 1990. After methodically planning for weeks, I determined that, if I drove across country, I could spend 3 solid weeks watching Major League Baseball games, many featuring my beloved Cincinnati Reds.
I drove to Atlanta. Then Houston. Up to Dallas-Ft. Worth for a few days. Then onto Cincinnati. Then off to St. Louis for a couple of days (and a trip to the Bowling Hall of Fame, but that’s another story). The Windy City for a few days. And then back through Dallas, Houston and Atlanta before finally returning to Tampa and real life.

Even got to see a few Minor League games sprinkled in.
Just a man, alone on the road, watching baseball, with his E-Trade app.

It was great. So great, in fact, that those 3 weeks quickly morphed into 5 weeks. Thankfully, I was self-employed so no one could fire me. And, to be honest, I did do some work along the way and meet with clients as well as work when I was in Atlanta. But, it was still great!
So, visions of that phenomenal vacation were floating through my head when, in typical Female fashion, she burst my bubble and sent my hopes hurtling back to Earth by handing me a brochure of Mexico Beach, FL. Even though I was a Florida resident for about 17 years, I had never heard of Mexico Beach before.

“It’s a small town so it’s not crowded (I hate crowds). The beach is nice, you can relax. It will be perfect!”
When the words “It will be perfect” finish a statement, you know you’re already on shaky ground.

So, after my only two requirements were met (cable tv and high-speed internet access) and paying $1,800 (plus deposit) to rent a house for the 2 of us, I was pretty much committed to spending a week in Mexico Beach.
So, while my “Significant Other” spent literally 10 hours a day outside of our back porch on the beach, I spent my week of vacation doing what I normally do: grocery shopping; cooking (there aren’t many restaurants in Mexico Beach); watching sports, business news and Fox news on tv; going into town and talking with the locals and business owners (Mexico Beach has a population of about 2,000 people so, during the course of the week, I would bet I spoke with most of them at least once); and, of course, getting online. And, yes, I did spend about 15 minutes or so a day actually on the beach during the day.

I did walk along the beach every morning before the sun came up (my “Significant Other” needed more than the 3 hours of nightly sleep that I required back then), and I would always walk at night after dinner.
But, between the hours of 7am and 7pm, 15 minutes of sun is enough for me.

I’ve never understood how women can go to the beach and lay in the sun, yet bring an umbrella to give them shade from that same sun that drew them to the beach in the first place.
When my “Significant Other” would go to the beach, even though it was a few short steps from our door, she would pack a bag filled with lotions, potions, snacks, towels, a blanket, and books. She also carried a small ice chest filled with drinks and the aforementioned umbrella.

Now, my “packing” for the beach consisted of a cold can of soda. When the soda can was empty, it was time to go back in the house.
I can’t sit at the beach for hours on end reading romance novels, or any book for that matter. I can’t just lay down on the beach and pretend to relax. My brain and my body just don’t work that way.

Like I said, women can sit at the beach for hours and do nothing. While I can’t speak for all men, and wouldn’t portend to, this man can’t sit at the beach, or anywhere, for hours and do nothing. When I was hospitalized, it was all I could do to get out of that bed and do something, anything. Even with little strength, I couldn’t wait to get out of that bed.
To be fair though, the Mexico Beach vacation actually turned out nice. The people of Mexico Beach were friendly, the beach was clean and not crowded, traffic was not a problem and there really weren’t any headaches or issues.

In fact, I would love to go back to Mexico Beach.
Of course, I’d rather spend 5 weeks driving around the country watching baseball.