Oh the joys of summer! The endlessly long hot days, the enervating humidity for those living in the flatlands of the eastern seaboard! And while I'm at it, the mosquitoes, the bugs, the traffic, traffic, traffic. Yes, let me say again, the traffic.
But let's face it, once you arrive at Ocean City and smell the salt air, hear the waves crashing, feel the sand between your toes and oh my god, the unbelievable heat of it as you struggle to carry all your schtuff ...it is worth it for the few hours of total zone-outed-ness!
So you settle in, try and put up an umbrella that is instantly blown backwards by the wind so that its pathetic spines are inside out and the brolly is ready to be dumped in the nearest trash can. And you submit to the temptation to rent one from the old bearded guy who very kindly erects his very sturdy, very large umbrella, and you pay him, and you are grateful because this is a king sized, hardworking, reliable piece of beach furniture that you just know you gonna love!
The serious business of applying sunscreen begins, and you can already feel the grains of sand sticking to you from the occasional blasts that sting your legs and put grimace lines on your face. I don't hold with sunscreen beyond an 8, and I like 4 best, but a good 30 for the face is a must...and believe me ladies, don't apply the regular stuff to your glorious visage, it will block up your pores and give you zits. So take the trouble, and the expense and invest in a good one for the face and the chest. I have ugly ugly turkey skin on my chest from my days in the sun as a young girl, in my short-lived bikini days.
Once that is done, you can flop down on your towel and survey the scene: over there, children are playing in the water, the lifeguard is focussed and alert, ready to go peeeeep with his whistle and make stern, rude gestures at the people with boogieboards who are edging over to the "swimmers only" area; several plump girls with rather ugly tattoos are flowing out of their bikinis, older ladies in skirty-type swimsuits are sitting smoking (urgh, I so wish people wouldn't do that, it STINKS!), young dudes are striding out of the water, wearing those ridiculous looonnng swimthings which are riding low on their hips with their underwear showing (another serious URGH!!! when is that fashion going to change and how they heck do they swim with those trunks flapping in the water?). Yeah, beach. Fun.
And then I hear a baby crying and crying and I look around, behind me, a little ways back, there is a woman with what looks to be a three month old baby, trying to feed him a bottle. And this really makes me very, very angry. The baby is not wearing a hat, and she has no shade for him to lie under. I grapple with my maternal instincts and my overriding sense of superiority: I am a mother, an old one, and I should be going over and telling her, "What the heck are you doing with such a tiny baby on the beach, with no hat, no umbrella, in this heat, woman? Do you have any sense at all?" But I don't, I just sit there and fume and recall the time my son, who was three, got a mild dose of heatstroke . It was awful, he was burning up, throwing up, listless and dehydrated and this was while he was wearing a hat , under an umbrella, wearing sunscreen (they didn't have anything beyond 20 back then). I felt so bad and we had only spent the morning at the beach and had returned back to our hotel room by noon. That is how quickly it can happen.
So this is the moral of this particular story: for goodness' sake, keep your babies well protected and hydrated if you go to the beach. I know it is a drag, but let them rest in between playing and swimming. Give them regular drinks of water, and snacks, and keep them out of the sun, and make them wear hats. Be a good example yourself: baseball caps are NOT hats: wear one that will keep the ears covered, and shade the neck. And by the way, remember the sunscreen on the ears, skin cancer is very ugly and you don't want to lose bits of them to the surgeon's knife. It messes up your choice of earrings anyway.
Be careful out there, and enjoy yourselves.