Monday, August 20, 2012

When a Trip Down Memory Lane Ends at a Cul de Sac

Part II

And so, our 16 year old selves grabbed us by the hand and begged us to embark on our annual trip down Memory Lane.  Usually under the safety of a car, this year we used the provided golf cart as our vehicle of choice.  I drove.

The ritual involves pointing out certain houses we have stayed in over the years, recalling funny stories, memories that have become characters of their own that punctuate the vacation each year.

Eight Bells, our first house. . .we pretended we were horses romping over the dunes.  Yeah, we did that.

Euphoria, the house where we proudly proclaimed meeting 26 boys (count em, 26).  It must have been like flies to honey back then and I didn’t even realize it.  It was the year we met The Boys, and therefore, an important stop.  Gosh, we were cute, our 16 year old selves comment from the back seat.

The Elvis House, name for the year Elvis died.  We were there that very week.  It was a stone's throw from The Boy’s house and we had big plans until Stephanie’s Pittsburgh boyfriend hitchhiked down and threw a monkey wrench into our week.  

Passing the houses, I teasingly  told Steph we were going to stop by The Boy’s house and she laughed.  “You’re kidding, right?”  Hells yeah, I was kidding.  We were wearing lounge wear, the equivalent of pajamas, but I was going to go down another street to see his other beach houses.  So, I bypassed his street and headed down the next, stopping in front of one of the homes that had a sign bearing the name of The Boy’s company.  A moment of pride and then, onward to the next house.  

The golf cart lurched forward when I realized there was a new white pick-up truck sitting in front of the next house and I had to swerve to avoid it.  Stephanie grabbed my arm, gasping, “Oh My God! Holy Crap!  That’s Him!” she turned her head toward me as we passed the man in the truck.  I glanced at the license plate, a vanity plate, and knew she was right.  I kept driving.

“What do you want me to do?” I asked.  

My 16 year self was saying, “Well Duh, turn around and go say hi,” but she was also battling with 53 year old Stephanie who took one look at herself in the suddenly very large sideview mirror of the golf cart and caught a glimpse of herself in her jammies, hair pulled back after a day at the beach and no make-up and she hollered, “Just drive!”  And I did.  I drove the full length of the road at full golf cart speed until it ended at a cul de sac.  

I stopped and looked at Steph who was hyperventilating, “Now what?” I inquired.  

Without hesitation she says, “We run!”  but stopped short of escaping through the sand.  She rethought,resigned, “I guess we head back the way we came.”  

Never one to go willy nilly without a plan, I said, “We should stop and say hi.”

“Have you looked at us lately?” She pointed to the telltale mirrors and I saw my reflection.  She as right.  We weren’t 16, we no longer have long flowing hair or cute little belly buttons.  In fact, we were so well disguised in our 50+ fat suits there was no way I was going to stop and say hi.  Not like this.

“Alright.  But what if he has recognized us and he stops us?  I have to stop, Steph.”  

She bit her lip.  “He isn’t expecting to see us so he probably won’t, but IF he does, we stop. . .I guess.  Just drive as fast as you can.”

I hit the accelerator as we headed back down the road reaching a sluggish top speed of 16 miles an hour.  Tearing down the road at 16 mph, we steeled ourselves for the possibility that at that speed, we may indeed be forced to make eye contact.  Heck, at that speed, we could make eye contact and conduct a full conversation with the guy in the time it took to drive by.  Our stomachs were knotting, we were nervous, but thankfully, the white truck pulled away in front of us and drove off.  We both sighed an audible breathe saved from an awkward moment and I punched it to get back to our place.

Giddy, it was hard to delineate between our 16 year old selves giggles and our 50+ selves giggles.  That Boy still made us smile somehow.

Pulling back into our driveway, Steph looks at me and huffs, “I’m a little offended he didn’t recognize us, I mean we were right in front of him!”

Maybe next year, Jimmy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Drive Down Memory Lane

An entire genre of music has been created in it's honor.  Movies have been made about it.  Books have been penned in its name.  A boy, a girl and a vacation location (mine is the beach. . .see my book).  In one week’s time, during the freedom of the summer, a teen aged girl could live out an entire lifetime of love from Saturday to Saturday.   It is the summer love and the beauty of it was, it only really lasted a week until the next year.  In our case, there were two very special boys, that Steph and I spent time with every year from the time I was 13 until 17.  The years when we were particularly cute, thin and young.  

Last year, I had the good fortune to get in contact with one of the boys (Steph’s “love”) and was pleased to find out he was married with children and still lived at the beach.  Well, ok.  I already knew he still lived at the beach. You see, Stephie and I have stalked him year after year, driving by his house, looking to make sure the name was still on the mailbox, daring one another to go to the door and say hello.  We never follow through. And so it was, this year that we hopped in an electric golf cart and traveled back down Memory Lane once again.

It was my intention to show Stephie how successful her Boy had become.  He now owns several houses at the beach, many of them back up to a freshwater lake once called The Pits.  

We met The Boys in 1972, at the Pits actually, when one of them road his bike down the dirt path and into the lake - stark naked.  Had we been any younger we might have needed therapy to get beyond the incident, but hormones had already kicked in and it didn’t take long for us to get to know The Boys.  We were young, bikini'd, and barefoot . We squeezed lemon juice into our hair to give it highlights and bathed in baby oil to enhance our tans.  And for a whole week, we didn’t wear shoes.  The Boys were long haired, deeply tanned and they surfed.  We thought they were gorgeous. The parents nicknamed them The Munchkins - which was better than Snort and Grunt (the back-up beach boyfriends).

Our first official date a was homemade dinner.  My boy enlisted his Italian father to cook us an authentic Italian lasagna and set us up with a little candle lit table.  Stephie was so nervous that she could not eat.  I never had that problem.  After the dinner, they drove us down to the public beach at the very south end and we caught ghost crabs, walked on the beach and kissed.  We kissed a lot.

My father always believed that The Boys had a different set of girlfriends every week.  We always believed WE were the only girls they saw and that their summer wasn’t complete until we arrived. Perhaps we were delusional, but we have elevated those hormonal memories to historic proportions, creating epic stories from what amounted to no more than six weeks from our collective lives.  Those Boys are icons in our lexicon, archetypes in our stories and legends in our own minds.  

So what happens when a drive down Memory Lane brings traffic you weren’t expecting?

To Be Continued. . . 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Even This is a Partisan Issue. . .I think

Pretty much everything has been divided lately into a Republican or Democrat  issue.  As an independent, I believe I am open to the best solutions on either side (and this just irritates the snot out of  the dyed in wool partisans.)  I have found an issue, though, that I simply cannot remain staunchly in the middle.  I have just come back from a favorite vacation spot of mine and although I had a great week, I find that I must comment on a sad, sad state of affairs -- the compliance of Beach Etiquette.

For the last 45+ years, I have vacationed at Sandbridge Beach, VA.  A private community, most of the homes are summer rentals and although we have been "owners" in the past, we currently rent a house for our annual gathering.  Whether one owns or rents, there are certain rules of beaching that should be respected and, sadly, they seem to be going by the wayside.  This past week I witnessed all of the following faux pas and while I did not openly sneer (it isn't polite), my level of pissed offedness has been churning ever since.  So, listen up!

1) If you smoke on the beach, pick up your butts.  No one wants to dig in the sand only to find a cache of nasty filters filling up their sand pail.

2) If you eat on the beach, it is NOT funny to feed the sea gulls.  They are rats. . .with wings.  While they will grab the food from your hand, they will also continue to dive bomb anyone in the vicinity believing everyone is as stupid as you are to offer food.

3) Bringing your baby to the beach may seem like a great idea, for about 3 minutes.  Sand irritates the baby's bum. Salt water makes it burn and the crying annoys everyone else.

4) And 15 minutes after you should have left, do not suddenly shake out your beach blanket allowing sand to fly into the eyes of those around you because you realize you need to get the baby back to the house NOW.

5) If you see some child toiling away on a sandcastle, it does not mean he wants help from YOUR child.  Don't suggest it because I am not babysitting your kid, too.

6) Finally, and this is the biggy, the one that sends me over the edge every single time. . .

When you bring your family, friends, toys, coolers, surf boards, etc. to the beach DO NOT PARK YOUR STUFF RIGHT NEXT TO SOMEONE ELSE.  Seriously.  Spread the heck out.  There is plenty of room.  You do not have to set your chair right next to mine with the arms touching.  This isn't New Jersey.

And to the lady who thought trying to fly a kite in the 4 foot spot between my chair and your camp was a good idea.  It didn't end well did it.

I love my beach.  I covet my space.  I do not feel obligated to share it with anyone else.  Guess that makes me a republican.