For anyone who is living in the city or a cold climate, I offer you this gentle reminder that, like most things in life, the idea of a day at the beach is often far better than the reality.
With only one day off each week and living in a place that (summer excluded) typically has one grey/wet day per week, my outings to the beach are quite limited. I get excited about going to the beach; that is, until I actually get there.
You arrive at the beach and the first thing that can go wrong is discovering that your beach bag doesn’t actually contain what you thought it did. There are 5 essentials for a successful trip: towel, book, sunglasses, sunscreen, and water. In my case, I often discover that the bottle of water is empty and I have a completely inappropriate or empty bottle of sunscreen.
God willing, your favourite patch is vacant and you can lay out your towel and prepare for a relaxing day. But first, if you are of pale skin, the battle of the sunscreen must commence. With the sun beating down, you endeavour to slop cream all over your body – easier on the front than the back. I’ve tried the spray, but if the wind is blowing you never get a direct hit and once your hands are greased up, you can never get enough grip on the can to actually press the spray button down.
Just as your hands are covered in cream and you haven’t yet rubbed it into your skin, the wind will pick up and dust your entire body with a layer of fine sand. The only option is to press on, except now as well as applying cream, you are in fact exfoliating your entire body: scratch, scratch, scratch. You are now a sticky, sandy, slightly sore mess and there comes a point when you just give up and think, That’ll do. Though most of your body is covered in sand, I can actually confirm it works as quite an effective sunscreen. That’ll do never does do though, so you lie down resigned to the fact that you will end up with a blotchy sunburn, that makes you look like you have the measles.
I don’t understand why no one has created a sunscreen spray booth. It would work in the same way as a spray tan booth. On arrival at the beach, you go in the booth, slip some money in a slot, strip butt naked, put a bath hat on, get sprayed, dry off, and emerge ready for the beach. Come on Hawaiian Tropic, this is a no brainer.
After all your efforts to attempt to apply your sunscreen, inevitably, you are now hot and bothered. But you can’t go in the sea yet, because then you will need to re-apply sunscreen all over again. So you lie down. The wind dumps some more sand on your face, so you roll over and read your book, except you can’t see properly because you have sunscreen smeared all over your sunglasses, which seems to be made worse with every effort to remove it. Nevermind, you’re at the beach! It’s brilliant.
By this point, I’m usually struggling to relax as everything is winding me up. I really need a drink. Whiskey on the rocks. There is no bar at the beach. Why did I bring water? Why didn’t I bring some valium to go with the water? If it weren’t so windy, I could chase the dragon……..This kind of idle reverie will soon be interrupted.
What the hell is that snuffling noise and deep panting? Marvellous! ‘Tis a dog! Oh look, its owners are 300 metres away, finding the whole thing hilarious. Splendid! It’s taking a crap 5 yards from your head. Now it’s got your t-shirt in its mouth. What a giggle! Listen up, dog owners. Keep your freaking dog on a freaking leash or go to the beach after the sun goes down.
So now you really do need to cool off in the sea. Everything seems better now that you are floating in the water. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah…. this is the life.
Back on the beach, however, sunscreen must be reapplied and now with the beginnings of sunburn, the sand exfoliator is actually becoming quite painful. Perhaps you can just pat it on, rather than rubbing?
Engrossed in your sunscreen application, you suddenly become aware that someone is staring at you. Jesus. Don’t make eye contact, don’t make eye contact. Damn. They have deliberately moved into your line of vision.
“Hello, what’s your name?”
Brilliant, some lonely freak of a man has chosen to sit next to you. There is a mile stretch of beach that is more or less empty and he has to sit next to you. Incredibly dull and pointless questions are fired at you, hard and fast. You can’t be rude because you live on a postage stamp-sized island and this guy is likely to either be the cousin of someone you know, someone you hate, or someone in government. So you respond with lifeless and cold yes and no answers. You don’t ask a single question. You try picking up your book. Unfortunately, this MoFo is a professional. He trains in invading personal space like it’s an Olympic sport. He is on a mission from hell to ruin your day. I have no idea what these men hope to achieve. I can’t believe they have ever successfully picked up a woman or even made a friend using this technique.
At this point, I give up. I pack my bag. I go home. Burnt, dehydrated, and vexed.