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In The Zone . .Emotional Chaos . ..Number 9. . .September 11


Emotional Chaos
Weekly Column by Brian Codagnone

September 17, 2003


Every year about this time, various publications with nothing better to do run the obligatory "My favorite beach" article. They fill their Lifestyle sections with pieces written by staffers about where they like to go to loll in the sand, play in the waves, develop early skin cancer, etc.

Smaller magazines will focus on local beaches, of which there's no shortage here in New England, at least along the coast. There are relatively few beaches in Aroostook county, at least not of the sort where the Beautiful People congregate. In the high end travel magazines (you know the kind; slick, glossy publications with ads for exclusive resorts, Jaguars and $15,000 watches), the writers extol the virtues of places like The Singing Sands of St. Vitus or the black sand beaches of the Yellow Sea (or is it the yellow sand beaches of the Black Sea?). These are exotic places that regular Joes like you and I will never see. In fact, I think they don't even exist. But then, I felt the same way about New Jersey until it was proven otherwise.

It's time that those of us wise enough to avoid the beach had a say in the matter or, to paraphrase General Philip Sheridan, "The only good beach is an empty beach". For folks like us, spending a day at the beach is about as pleasurable as a root canal with a rusty ice pick.

In the interest of full disclosure, I live a few blocks from the beach (Revere Beach, the oldest public beach in America, where there are no shortage of people who would happily administer a root canal with a rusty ice pick if the price was right), and can see the ocean from my back porch. I love the sea, the salt air and all those other nautical cliches. It's the beach I hate.

Why, you ask? It seems pretty obvious to those of us in the know, but I'll explain it anyway, as I'm only halfway through the column. Here are just some of the reasons that I avoid the beach:

The heat. Beachgoers claim that they go to the beach to get away from the heat. This is like saying you go to caves to avoid the dark. A beach is an unsheltered, highly reflective place that magnifies the heat. What about the sea breeze, you say? What about air conditioning, I say. It's a lot more consistent and can be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home.

Sand. Sand is gritty, uncomfortable and gets into all kinds of places it doesn't belong. I suppose there are those who enjoy wearing a sandpaper jockstrap, but that's between them and their therapists.

Suntan lotion. Why go someplace where you have to slather yourself with grease? Plus, the aforementioned sand sticks to the grease, making the situation even more uncomfortable. For me, the sickening smell of suntan lotion has the same Proustian flashback quality that cordite has to a shell-shocked veteran.

Swimming in the ocean. I like to swim in pools, even lakes. The ocean is different. Now, I've never been to the Bahamas, or Aruba or anyplace else where the water is crystal clear. Here in the Northeast the water is ominously dark, full of unseen slimy things and sharp objects. And there's the cold. Even on days when it's like Saudi Arabia in the off season, the water here is so cold that by the time you're in up to your calves you can't feel your feet. Which is probably just as well, as that way you can't see what you're about to step on. For those who say, "the cold water is bracing on a hot day!" I have one word: undertow.

The wildlife. In addition to what's lurking beneath the waves, the beach is a gathering spot for all sorts of unpleasant fauna. First on the list is seagulls. I've seen seagulls so nasty that they attack and eat pigeons, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The ones that hang around Kelly's begging (or, more appropriately demanding at gunpoint) fries, clams, cash, etc. are particularly aggressive. Then there's the small, biting insects. No beach is free of them, it's only the degree of annoyance.

Beaches aren't totally without merit, of course. I have no objection to seeing young women with centerfold bodies wearing bikinis that would make a Brazilian blush. But, for everyone one of those there are a half dozen more for whom a burkha would be too revealing. And that's just the tip of the iceburg that we call the human condition, but I'm out of space. Still, if these folks want to congregate at the beach, let them. I'll be inside in the air conditioned shade.





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©2003 Brian Codagnone
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Surf Our Site

Home ... Misfits . Rafferty .. . S1019 .. . Star Crossed....
. .
Ginger & Shadow. ..Writer's Block.. ..Cool Links . ..More Cool Links .
Oddities ..Link To Us... Guest Comics . Online Store..
In The Zone. ..Number 9. . .September 11