WHY THE BEACH IS BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH
A day at the beach is something you have longed for all year. It sounds so inviting, so relaxing. You have a yearning to soothe your stress and caress your needs.
So a decision is made about when you are going, and it begins. From the moment the day is named, the planning starts.
What will I need to take with me?...
My first thought is food. I am often on a tight budget, so pre-prepared food is a must. My friends, who are unlucky enough to be blessed with children, also take pre-prepared food. We all call this a 'Picnic' to make it sound more attractive.
So the day before the day before, I go shopping for the picnic supplies, and then the night before the big day, I cook everything, and make sandwiches. I carefully wrap, and put everything into plastic tubs. I put condiments and drinks in the fridge so they will be cold, and ice blocks in the freezer for the cool box. I gather cutlery, plates and cups.
Already my brain is starting to vibrate with a slight numbing sensation. I hear the sound of waves in my mind, and psyche myself for all the other boxing rounds I am still to go through, before my arse hits the sand, or maybe even small pebbles.
Shit! No, please don't be the latter...
Check. So, the night before I also gather the other items deemed mandatory. Swimwear, towels of various sizes, toilet paper and wet wipes, parasols, windbreaks, accessories for said items, inflatables, sun-cream, books and magazines. Beach games that I especially purchased and will only play with once a year. Why? Because they're shit. Extra clothes, for when it gets chilly or I need to cover up, and of course, extra shoes. I am sure my grandparents check list for evacuation had been more frugal.
I stare at the 2 weeks' worth of vacation luggage spread out before me, which is actually only for 1 day.
I'm up extra early, even though I am tired from preparation the night before, and start to pack the car, with the help of my relaxed looking boyfriend, who I begin to begrudge. He should be anxious, or at least slightly flustered, but no. He does not comply. I anxiously tick off my checklist as we load everything. On our 5th journey his face says, 'Do we really need all this stuff?', but I can see his mind screaming at him not to rise to my challenge.
Finally we are ready. We know in advance which beach we are going to. The great God of driving chooses me in the, 'Yes it's friggin' fair', coin toss.
We catch up to the mandatory traffic.
How early do you have to get up now to avoid this?...
Each year we round ourselves up in the Summer, and herd ourselves towards the coast. In almost every country, in every culture, we are all born with our beach gene.
Parking. There is no parking, so we drive around the circuit. Eight times, before we manage to wedge it up against an overflowing dustbin, not bad. By which time we have had a row, and arrive feeling very tense, unpacking the car in cold silence.
Both of us struggle to carry everything, lumbering along like two loaded up Spanish mules. A high wind buffets us, and makes it even harder to set all our stuff out, once we finally decide which spot of sand is perfect for us. That takes 10 more minutes, and only adds to the hate boiling within.
We spew our belongings around us, and finally breathe a winning breath, now that we've made it. Only one breath, mind you, as we are thirsty after our ordeal. So drinks go in cups, and the wind blows in some sand, that same sand I had so desperately insisted upon. I keep this separate from the flask of darling coffee, which I also brought, because that is for later, at the allotted time.
We remove our clothes to reveal swimwear underneath, but we are not swimming, not yet, no way. We apply sun cream, and the wind blows, sand turning my body into one giant scrub.
Food, next. It takes at least an hour to get out everything we need. I'm thinking;
Better have it while it's still fresh, otherwise later in the day, after it's warmed up and tastes like a badgers arse, it won't be so appealing...
We eat our food. It revives our humanity, and idle chat prevails. I look around at the free entertainment. The variety of beach attire never bores me. It is as if for a brief moment, we have all stepped into a different realm, in which all beach wear is suddenly acceptable.
I am thankful for small mercy's, particularly for not having to cope with children as well. I see adults stress, wrapped up in Ice creams, food, cleaning, lathering on of creams, arm bands, sandcastles, toileting, crying, screaming, laughing. The kids dictate the adults time, sometimes granting a little respite by falling asleep or swimming in the sea. Some even practise the ancient time forgotten art of amusing themselves. With the little ones, it's a gamble whether parents get any rest or not. It exhausts me even to spy on kids for long. Old people in thongs bend over, and remind me of the tired, gathered faces of old elephants. It makes swallowing food hard.
Eating finally over, and we put all the stuff away, making sure to put the rubbish in the bag I especially bought. Most of the food has been finely covered in sand, and everything tasted, and felt like sandpaper. That makes us both reach for the drinks, and we finish them with dread, as we both feel the 'Overpriced five pounds can of coke run,' coming on.
Sunbathing time now, we both have mp3 players, and I unplug from the normal world. For the first time, I relax. For a glorious, half an hour, I am transported to a health spa. Eventually the heat cuts through my reverie, along with a vague sensation of being watched. I sit up, and see a small child is boldly peeing at the end of my blow up mattress. His five year old face defies me to challenge him. I don't want the hassle of wrangling with a small child. I should be thankful it isn't a grown man playing with himself, which has actually happened, more than once.
Now it is time for that swim. I rudely wake my boyfriend, as one of us always has to stay with our stuff. I have a 10 minute dip, and then relay the baton to my partner. I have now needed to urinate for at least an hour.
I knew I should have gone in the sea, making that, 'I'm not pissing' face. The public toilets called to me; 'All right, darlin', come and show me your beaver.' I shudder. My boyfriend shakes himself like a dog,
And they wonder why we treat them like that...
That makes the decision for me. I look around for the toilet roll, and then search for a bag in which to put it. There are none, and panic sets in.
Can I risk carrying it in full view, with everyone thinking I am going to defecate?...
No I cannot. I cling to a shred of hope that there may be some in the toilets. I flap across the sand in my flip-flops, and nearing the wooden structure, I begin to question why I am doing all this just to urinate. I wish I could be like the little boy, having the freedom to piss where one wants. The floor is swimming in water or piss, and as it creeps over my footwear, and covers my foot, the smell lets me know it is in fact piss. One door swings open, and I see the shit monster crawl out of the bowl, and over the seat.
Well, I won't be choosing that one...
I trepidly push open the other door. The toilet is full of toilet roll, and an empty tube that someone had, in a desperate moment wiped their bottom with, is sticking up like a flake out of an ice cream. And this is only in the girls. My stomach reaches, and I turn and run back, only pausing for a second, as I realise I am going to have to make that face in the sea, but I don't want people to know what I'm doing.
Five minutes later I'm doing the deed, and staying the normal amount of time in the water, as if I am not just there to urinate.
Then I inform my boyfriend that it's time to start getting things packed, as everyone will be leaving soon. We put on our clothes, and they drag the coarse sand, which is already stuck to every limb, into every last orifice.
We pack up the car, drink our flask of lukewarm coffee, and drive back home, exhausted, sunburned, bewildered, and possibly poor from spending every penny.
I throw everything down, and wonder to myself why I ever do it, only for next year to come around, when I will hear myself cheerfully say;
"Going to the beach next week, I can't wait"...
Trixie Bloom is the Author of Facebook Blues, a Romantic Comedy about chasing the past.
Author Blog - http://trixiebloom.com
Amazon Author page - https://www.amazon.com/author/trixiebloom
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