My husband grew up just a couple of miles from the ocean. His senior year high school picture shows a tanned boy smiling brightly from beneath beach blonde hair.
My high school picture is one of a Farrah wanna-be with pale freckled skin. I was raised in the fresh country air, among trees and wide open spaces.
My husband loves the beach, and dreams of living with the salty water lapping at his back porch steps.
I do not.
I would tolerate the beach better. Were it not for the wind. And the sand. And the sharks.
After we were married for about a year, my husband moved us back to the town in which he grew up. Albeit about 15 minutes inland.
Close enough for him to get his beach fix. Far enough for me to escape during a hurricane evacuation.
I’ve never liked the beach. My first foray with the ocean water was in Galveston as a teenager. One trip involved my parents and a truck camper. I remember being burned so badly they had to rent a hotel room in order to apply cold compresses to my open and oozing sores.
Other subsequent trips with our church youth group always ended with me turning a bright lobster red. Which almost always clashed with my lime green bikini.
I’m guessing that the use of baby oil instead of sun screen could have been a catalyst. But I could be wrong.
But my aversion to the ocean piqued in 1975 when Jaws was released. I’m not kidding when I tell you that I’ve not waded in past the ankles since then.
Much in the same way that I’ve not gone within 10 feet of pea soup after viewing The Exorcist. Movies. They shaped me.
I do accompany my children to the beach on occasion. I’ve traded in the baby oil for SPF 975. I just thought I should disclose that. But since I’m still on Doxcyclene, my doctor has advised me to avoid the sun in general, especially the beach.
I wasn’t all that broken up about it.
On Sunday evening, Fiddledaddy announced that we were going to pack up the van and have a picnic on the beach. Because it was late in the day, he assumed that the harmful affects of the sun would not be an issue for me. And since I’m a relatively good sport, I was game.
It took all 5 of us to haul all of our beach cargo down to the waters edge. We set up the umbrella, beach chairs, blanket, and unloaded the various buckets, goggles, and general beach paraphernalia. About a minute later, a fellow beach goer ambled over to inform us that a few minutes earlier, while he and his daughter were in thigh high water, a sand shark crested just within a foot of where they were standing. He estimated the dorsal fin to be about 4 feet long.
If you peeked out from behind your hands AT ALL during Jaws, you would know that would make this particular sand shark HUGE.
I was ready to pack up and move out of state, but clearer heads prevailed and Fiddledaddy gave the stern warning for the children not to venture out past their knees.
I sat in my beach chair with my eyes firmly glued to my children. Which was not as difficult as usual, because Jensen spent the majority of the time wrapped around Fiddledaddy’s head.
At one point, when he had successfully extricated his young son, Fiddledaddy leaned back in his chair and said, “Now, isn’t this relaxing?”
I had my eyes fixed on an older lady up to her neck in the waves, “No, it’s not. I’m expecting that old lady out there to be chomped in half, and I’m trying to figure out if I have the nerve to run out and save her.”
There were no further shark sightings, and the children, sans Jensen, all had a wonderful time.
As we were leaving, God treated me to this beautiful sight as the sun was setting. Once you get passed the sand, and the wind, and the sharks, the beach really is very beautiful.