Monday, August 2, 2010

Drama at the Beach

When my grandfather took up golf as a very serious (and time consuming) hobby, he bought a summer house on the beach so that my grandmother would be busy indulging in one of her great passions (the beach in all its manifestations) so he could pursue his own. It worked out well for them--they had an incredibly loving marriage, by every account I've ever heard.

I cannot remember a summer that wasn't beach-infused. There are epic sagas of the time my father had to float my mother out of the beach house on a raft when the tide came in too quickly during a storm, tales of my first steps on the shores of the Atlantic, my sister's passion for microbiology taking early root in the tidepools of Hampton Beach. My cousins have similar memories, and I cannot express the gratitude I have for my grandfather's generosity in giving us the great gift of a house at the beach. His eight grandchildren are ocean freaks, and the mantle has been passed as Belle and my nephew Pete spent this past weekend in hard-core beach mode.

Anyway, one of the oddest perks is that our location is such that we have a view of the main road that runs from "the strip" of Hampton Beach (where it gets a little dicey and was definitely a good time when I was a late teenager but kind of makes me sick now) to the coast of Maine but also of the small side road where our house is located.

We have a screened-in porch that runs all around the front of the house. Sitting out there reading a book or with a nightcap is a little piece of heaven. And yeah, okay, one of the highlights is people watching, not gonna lie.

Belle and I went mini-golfing with Andy and his daughter one night last week. When we got back to the beach (rather late ... Andy runs on "manana time"), Addie was in freaking hysterics on the porch. I put Belle to bed then went out to see what she was giggling about.

This probably sounds sick, but it was so funny. There was a couple over on the beach having a rip roaring fight. That in and of itself isn't funny, of course, but the fact that they were obviously intoxicated and screaming things that were pretty private just made it seem like a soap opera.

"You won't even put your arm around me! I make you sick, don't I, Tony? We're alone on this romantic beach and you won't even touch me! You don't want to fuc* me! What did I ever do to you?"

And so on in that vein. The funniest part was that we actually observed the nefarious Tony staggering drunkenly up the beach path and down the street, swigging from a bottle under the streetlights. We never got a look at "Mrs. Tony", although we tried.

This probably sounds sick to you, to sit there and listen to the conversations people are having as they walk by (some CRAZY shiz ... you cannot imagine), hoping that the stupid kid who rides a skateboard without a helmet tied up to his buddy's motorcycle doesn't crash and burn (my mom has this Hippocratic responsibility to help an injured person, I guess, but she doesn't suffer fools like this lightly and wouldn't be thrilled to have to help someone hurt doing something so foolhardy), judging people based on our dogs' reaction to them (my black lab is a very good judge of character, strange as it sounds, so we always pay really close attention to who Sonja barks at), and just in general making fun of people walking by. It's kind of an art form, really.

Tonight, for example, there was a couple walking over to the beach and the guy was carrying his dog like a baby. I mean, I know there are some dogs that are kind of meant to be carried, a la Paris Hilton's Tinkerbell, but this dog was big enough that it just looked kind of ridiculous. I took a picture, but we were in the middle of dinner so by the time I grabbed my BlackBerry, they were pretty far up the beach path (it's also shot through a screen, so the quality's pretty shoddy).

I share this with you not because I want you to know how petty and twisted I am (and I'm really not ... it's just a temporary summer thing) but because I had a crazy epiphany while watching the man carrying his dog. I started wondering why he was holding the dog instead of just laughing at how stupid it looked. Was the dog sick? Very old and about to have its last jaunt on the beach before that final trip to the vet? Was it a true beach dog and as such not fond of walking on asphalt? Did the guy have some need to be carrying something due to a recent loss? Had the dog been left to him by his recently deceased mother and he was holding onto the dog so tightly because he missed his mother so much?

Yup, it struck me like a bolt of lightning that sitting at that porch for thirty-three years taking in the people walking by, questioning their motives and the tiny slice of their life I was experiencing ... well, it made me a writer.

So thank you, Papa. Thank you for this day of Belle boogie boarding with her uncle

and thank you for my writing.

They are both gifts I will cherish forever.

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