SHORT STORY: MEMORIES OF A BEAUFORT SUMMER DAY

Well summer has arrived.No! More than that. It has exploded into these beautiful sea islands of the Beaufort, SC area. For those of uswho have called Beaufort home and have our roots here, the summer brings more than the heat and humidity. I know that the heat is an integral part of a Beaufort summer day. In fact the heat andthe humidity arethe main players of our typical summer day. Some days the duo seem to overpower even the best attempts at staying cooler. Days when a haze settles over the area and the air seems heavy with the marriage of the two. Breathing seems more of an effort than an automatic action of our being.

But it is the absolute beauty of the area that makes all of that tolerable. In fact, there may be no other place on earth with such beauty, diversity, plants, life forms and such an array of almost untouched getaways. We have a haven here in the modern world. An absolute wonderful place to be. Beaufortonians seem to become acclimated to the days that should be unbearable. Our very being becomes accustomed to this normal Beaufort summer day. We do find numerous ways to persevere and keep comfortable. We head to the river, go swimming, go to the beach or the Sands. We may go to the waterfront park where there is almost always a good breeze. Sitting on swings or just passing the time in the grassy areas. The many shops and restaurants make for a reprieve while enjoying the natural breeze or even the air conditioning. The whole Beaufort experience gets in your blood and never leaves.

Many of the “others” who are not from here will wrinkle their noses while their senses are greeted with the essence of the sea islands. You know what I mean. That wonderful olfactory delicacy that we are blessed with as the tides come and go. The definitive proof that you are in Beaufort. For with eyes closed and with deep inhalation you do get the essence of low tide! Nothing can describe it. It is the low country.

Let me begin this story now. This tale of an attempt at staying cool. A trip to the beach. A trip that became an adventure. You see, we are blessed with Hunting Island State Park. Hunting Island has over 4 miles of beach and attracts over a million visitors a year. It is the most popular park in the South Carolina park system.And rightly so. It is nature and natures beauty at her best! Not only is it almost completely unadulterated but it is non-commercialized. It also has a wonderful campground. I remember as a teen in the 70’s, hitch hiking to the beach to meet up with friends. We would get a camping spot and just live on the beach for days. But nothing more about that. You know “what happens at the campground stays at the campground”.

Anyway, back to my story. It was turning out to be one of those 105 degree heat index days. That was just the catalyst we needed to “head to the beach”. Remember when I was a teen? Well then going to the beach was quite simple. It required swim trunks and a little recreational stuff if you get the drift! Those days are gone. Long gone in fact. It has become a production to get there. For one thing, I no longer travel there alone. I am much older and wiser.Or so I like to think. But along with all that comes family. And that is just part of this story.

This day trip would include my wife, her sister, her sister’s grandson, her sister’sextended family granddaughter, my wife’s uncle and my youngest son. Oh yeah, and myself. Now that that was decided upon we must get ready. Getting ready now entails a many faceted operation of sort. My wife and I both have certain jobs to do and we set about doing those like a well prepared team. It requires an almost military precision to pull it off without problems. With that mindset we proceeded to “get ready”.

So off I went to get a suitable cooler. Having found that right one I rinsed it out and made it ready to receive all the necessary items for our outing. Items needed for nourishment and drink. Now here is a very important part of being a true blue Beaufortonian. Coolers are very much part of our Beaufort psyche. Notice I said coolers with an “s”. That’s right. We have many coolers. We have red ones, blue ones, Gamecock coolers, Clemson coolers, small ones, large ones, larger ones, humongous ones, collapsible ones, one’s that roll (oh the wonderful invention called the wheel) and even ones that cool or heat. However many you have may be predetermined at birth. Or not. We may never know. But we do know here in the Beaufort Lowcountry, coolers are in. Not only in, but in summer time almost an appendage. Especially with the younger crowd. Wherever they gather you will find coolers galore and inside they have filled them with that important ingredient for socialization and refreshment. Beer, beer and beer! For my wife and myself, I shall fill mine with means of hydration, hydration and hydration. That’s right. Mainly water bottles. Must be something about getting older I suppose. Even though I still have memories of coolers filled with PJ. Well, memories to a certain degree. At some point those memories diminish.

Back to my story. Having cleaned the cooler I wheeled it into our kitchen to load it with all the needs for our survival and comfort for the day. While I had been cleaning the cooler, my wife had gutted a watermelon. While our kids were growing up, we found that watermelon snacks at the beach were a favorite and delightful treat. So I loaded water and some sodas in our cooler. I then made a few meat and cheese sandwiches andthe popular PBJ sandwiches and loaded them too. In went some yogurt, applesauce cups, celery and peanut butter, chips and cheese crackers.A few more oddities and the ice. Voila. our cooler is ready.

Now to handle the amount of people going requires a van. This I have and my next job is to load it. Wheeling the cooler to the van was easy. Once there I almost had a blowout of serious consequences lifting it into the van. But I did accomplish the task and now must gather up more items for our comfort and enjoyment. Off to the shed I go. There I gather the very important beach chairs and lounge chair. Boogie boards are the very young and the older generations wannabe surfboards. Anyway, you guessed it. We have those too. So I gather them together also.. Lastly I grab the beach toys. Now there is something about the beach that at times turns all of us into little kids again. You know. When you just sit and play in the sand. Digging with that little plastic shovel or filling the buckets up to make sand castles. When we no longer find ourselves thinking worrisome adult thoughts. When those worries go out with the ebb and flow of the tides as we play. Who needs those expensive therapists when you live by a beach.

Having gathered and transported said items to the van I prepared to load them. Now loading for the beach requires skill. You see, to be done correctly it must be done in layers. The cooler was loaded earlier and that became my foundation. Next I laid the chairs that fold flat on top of the cooler. Then the butterfly type chairs I lay next to the cooler, filling a void there. The beach toys were put on top of those. Wedged nicely to prevent movement. On top of the coolers and folding chairs I loaded the boogie boards. The larger one on bottom and the next size smaller until they were stacked with architectural preciseness. Finished I stepped back to admire my work. All was well with my world at that moment. After all. I was an expert at this. Not like someone whom after all that realized that the watermelon was left out of the cooler and had to remove the boogie boards and the chairs and whatever else was in the way to get to cooler to put watermelon in and then reload everything in perfect layered order AGAIN!! No. Not like that person.

Having finished that part of this quick trip I moved on to the next phase. My wife is almost anal when it comes to preventing skin damage. Alas, the ritual greasing of the pig. That’s right. Putting on sunscreen for UV protection. The proper way is to put it on before you go and reapply during the day as needed. Let me give you the scene here. My wife and I in front of our bedroom mirror. I am wearing only my swim trunks. I am standing there with both hands full of sun screen lotion. Now there are times when I regress into my childhood. Aah those simpler times. This was one of those times. You see, it was no longer lotion in my hands. No. It was war paint. I was a Cherokee warrior. No. A Cherokee chief. Chief needtoexercisemoretolosebellyfat. With the war paint I painted squiggly lines across my forehead. Next I drew circles around my eyes and made suns out of them. On the sides of my face I painted stick figure eagles in flight. Circling my breasts I made two more suns. Next I split my chest in half with a painted line that ran from between my breasts to my navel. There I drew another sun with a sunburst affect. I was a fearsome, vicious warrior chief getting ready to wage war and destruction. I was absorbed in my chanting (quietly in my head) of hiya, hiya when “honey can you lotion my back in?” interrupted my regression. Sure. Me rubba you in,squaw. And that I did and finishing myself as well we were ready to move forward.

My wife and I climbed into our van and headed out to pick up the other participants in this adventure. First stop was at her sister’s house. If you remember she had 2 grand kid types with her. One a 4 year old girl and a boy of about 22 months. They both required car seats to travel safely. Now I am not up to date with car seats but after a little swearing and such we managed to get them in properly and the kids installed in them. Onward to pick up my wife’s uncle. This proved to be about the easiest thing so far that day. We pulled up and he came out and got into the van. We drove off heading to our next destination. That would be pickup point NOVEMBER. You know the phonetic alphabet. November for “N”. The first letter of my youngest son’s nickname. Off we go.

Now the little girl had never been to the beach before. She had been to a lake but never the ocean. As such she was excited and anxious. The normal travel dialog of “are we there yet” started immediately. But worse was yet to come. She was a perky little talkative thing. And so it was that “why” became the word of the day. Why, why why! I had reached my point and was just about to unleash a tit for tat verbal battle with her. One of why not, why not, why not!! I envisioned a great movie scene. You know. Like that iconic PeeWee Herman scene of “I know you are but what am I.””Where are you going?” brought me back from my acceptance speech at the Academy Awards. Back to reality and realization that I was at the pickup spot NOVEMBER. You remember. The place where we would acquire another rider. My youngest son.

As before there was the “why are we stopping?””Why are we here?” But all that was about to change. You see, this young girl had never seen my son before. With my wife and I up front and my sis-in-law and wife’s uncle in middle seats, then that left the two children in the back row seats. The only place left for my son to sit was in between the two car seats, ergo the kids. Now once he climbed in, the girl clammed up tight. Unsure and a little scared I suppose, she didn’t say a thing. Oh peace and quiet. So back into traffic I pulled as we headed out once again to our destination. But fate was to deal me an ugly hand. You see, the boy had only seen my son a couple of times and did not recognize him. It started with a slight quiver of his lips. Then a soft and slow noise started building until he burst forth with an awful terrified crying fit. I was beginning to wonder “why,why,why”. I was just about to my point, you know the one. It was then that he stopped crying. He had worn himself out. The noise level went from a screaming cry to a whimper in seconds. A whimper that lasted the rest of the trip to the beach. But at least it was quiet.

Hallelujah we finally pull up to the entry of the beach. Anyone who lives in Beaufort should invest in a season pass for the state parks. It is a great money saving deal plus with it displayed you are just waved through at the gate. There are two main beach areas other than the campground area. The north beach has the lighthouse on it. It is wonderful historical building with great views from the top. We like to go to the south beach which is closer towards Fripp Island. In my opinion the south beach has better beach area and is not as crowded. And so it was that we continued on to the south beach parking area. Many years ago the parking was not really organized and you would park anywhere on the side of the road. This led to a lot of vehicles getting bogged down in the sand. Now the parking areas are nicely laid out and uniform. Finding a parking spot was easy and we pulled up by one of the many bathrooms and parked.

 

The unloading seemed to go really well. No major catastrophes occurred. Everyone of the adults grabbed something to carry and took off to the beach. With that I found myself alone and looking down at the cooler still in the van. Darn. Maybe just maybe they all left it for me because it was so important. That’s it. They all knew that something that important to the very survival of us all should be entrusted to me. So it was with a swell of pride that I grabbed a good hold onto the handles. One, two, three, lift….oh gosh that seems a lot heavier than when I loaded it. Let me try again. So with a deep breathe and a big jerk, I pulled the cooler out of the van in one big, continuous move. What a man! what a man! Fora second I drifted off to the stage of the Olympics. The crowd was wild after seeing me break all records of the weightlifting’snatch’ event. I didn’t get to revel in my glory long as music drifting from a nearby car snapped me back to reality. It was just as well as I needed to transport the cooler to the waiting masses. First I needed to go through a mental list. Are windows cracked? Check. Do I have my sun glasses? Check. Do I have my cellphone? Check. Do I have my keys? NO? Where are they? Not in the ignition…not in my pockets….not on the ground anywhere. Oh heck. We are screwed now. Maybe one of those sweet little brats got them and now we shall never know what happened to them. Like my youngest son when he was that age. He threw everything in the trash can. Keys, remotes, money all went into the trash. Great. I guess I need to go and interrogate the little rascals. It won’t be nice. I have to break them down. Get into their brain. Make them see that I am in control and the rest of their existence is in MY hands now. That I can’t be messed with. The truth and only the truth will suffice. Which one of you little farts took my keys? It has to be that way. No pity shown.

” HEY! Did you hear me?” What’s that, I replied to my wife. “I took your binoculars and keys” she yelled from the walkway. “I meant to tell you before I went down to the beach”. “Are you going to come or just hang out by the van all day?” she asked. Ha ha I sarcastically mumbled. “Sure honey” is what she heard. Doors locked? Check. Close rear hatch and go. Check.

With that I began my leisurely trek to the place on the beach where my family had homesteaded for the day. Life is good. It’s a beautiful day and we are going to make memories today. So it was that myself and my cooler started the short trip. Thank goodness that the cooler is equipped with wheels and a pull handle. Up over the curb at the restroom area was a breeze as was the paved areas. On to the beach access walkway. Holy cow did I have a blowout? Nope. It seems that this sand is loose. Not packed at all and you guessed it. My easy, smooth rolling to my destination took on a nasty disposition. In fact my movement came to a dead stop as the wheels of the cooler sank into the loose sand. I will just yell to someone to come and help me carry it to where we set up. Scanning the beach I located what I believe was our spot. My gosh it is like a mile away and no one is there. Oh I see. They are all already at the water or in it just having a wonderful time. On top of that, they are so far away they will NEVER hear me. Let me become one with the cooler and the beach. You know, like Bruce Lee would do. Then I will be able to easily pull the cooler the distance needed. I will master the art of movement. There will be no resistance that I will not be able to overcome. One, two, three…crap that is really stuck deep. I guess I will have to just man handle it and carry it. Like Arnold Scwarze whatever. Deep breathe and lift. Wait a minute. Isn’t the object of this exercise supposed to be the cooler being set freefrom the sand trap? With it’s position in the air above the sand? That’s certainly not what happened. When I jerked to free it, I was pulled downward to the cooler. I hope no one was watching. After all, to someone less intelligent than myself, it may have looked like I am just a wimp. They may not understand that we had just been through a veryrare occurrence of’gravity surge’. I know it sounds crazy that it just so happens that it occurred at the exact moment I jerked on the cooler….but crazier things have happened. Let me test to make sure this phenomenon is over. First I must visually reconnoiter the area to make sure no one is watching. Ready, set, jump. Good! Seems there is no excessive gravity.A good little jump from a stationary position for a white boy I must say. Gee, let me get back to the situation at hand. This time I will crouch lower into a weight lifting crouch. Then with the spring and quickness of a tiger I will use my leg strength and free the cooler. AAAHHHH I screamed as I yanked it up and up. Falling back on the sand on my derriere the freed cooler and it contents cascaded onto me. Let me just lie here for a minute. Kind of blend in. Like a chameleon. After all the ice feels pretty good about right now. All except the one in my belly button. Now that is just a little too cold. Wonder if this is how caught shrimp feels when you ice them down. Well, maybe except for the smorgasbord of snacks and food spread about. As nice as this is I need to get up and salvage what I can and get to the beach before someone, ANYONE, misses me.

 

Finally I picked up the snacks and food and drinks and cleaned the sand off. Well not all of it. After all the sand never brushes off completely. There was still quite a bit of ice that had not spilled out so I was good there. Back to my original dilemma. Getting this heavy sucker miles down to the chairs. I guess I will just have to man up and carry it. Not a biggie. Now that it is free from the sand I should make good time carrying it. Then I too can hit the beach and play in the water. Up and go. One, two,three, four, five, six. Whoa. I need to set it down for a minute. Gee. I thought I would be closer than this. OK. This time I am not stopping until I get to our spot. Lift and GO! No stopping this time. No sir I am all about winning this contest. Yahoo! I am on a roll now. I should be in the water anytime now. I am not looking up until I know I am almost there. Don’t look. Don’t look. Darn I can’t resist. Curiosity gets me every time. What the…? I am not even halfway there. On top of that here comes that ‘gravity surge’ again. You can’t fight mother nature and win so just give in to the ‘surge’. Whew. That is much better. Give my arms and legs a break. What am I to do? Oh wait here comes a little kid. He looks to be only about eight or nine years old. Too small to do me any good.”Hey mister. I have been watching you trying to get that cooler down to the beach. Boy, you sure are funny. My mom will be here in a second. If you want her to carry it for you I am sure she will. After all, she carried ours that is twice that size down to our spot.” Haha I thought but did not say. He thinks he’s a comedian. “I tell you what I’ll do. If you grab that side and help me I will give you a dollar.””Make it five dollars and I will” he replied. “You drive a hard bargain but because today is going to be a wonderful, relaxing day, I say yes.”

With that the little one easily lifted his side and I mine. That’s weird, I thought. How is it that he is so small and punkish yet has no problem lifting this heavy cooler? Eureka!! I know. Like that Newton fellow said. “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction”. That explains it. You know. Remember the ‘gravity surge’? Ha. That must have evoked an opposite and equal reaction. An ‘anti-gravity surge’!Simply put for you non astro-physicist types…at the exact time we lifted and carried the cooler, gravity ‘eased’ up. Just enough to get us where we were going without allowing us to float away. That is why I did feel a little light headed. You know, since I am in the same league as Mr. Newton, I think when I have time I will buy some of his cookies and read up on him. Though I do have a tendency to react slightly to figs. But, what the hey.

 

Off we went closer and closer until we made it to our spot. “Come on old man, give me my money”. As I always keep my promises (well sometimes always) I handed over the payola for a job well done. “Scat now boy. You got your just rewards.” And off the little thief went. Oh boy, here comes my wife. ” are you ever going to come down to the water? You always just sit in the chair and do nothing.It is absolutely wonderful in the water. What do you find so nice that you have just been sitting up here since we got here?”I really can’t tell her that I just made it here or that it took the help of a little kid to do so. After all, I have my manliness to uphold as she sees me as her STRONG knight in shining armor. “I was just sitting up here relaxing and checking out this hot babe on the beach. She is wearing a ….oh my….it’s you I was drooling over.You still thrill me you hottie.” She looked at me and replied quite forcefully “Shut up and save that crap for some fool.””I guess you came back here because you missed me.” I said. “Hardly. I came to get a drink.” She replied as she bent down and opened the lid on the cooler. “What happened to all this stuff? It looks like a tornado struck inside here.” she said. “Uh I don’t know what you are talking about” I sheepishly replied.”Look at everything all tossed around.” she exclaimed. “Well” I replied. “Maybe the kids got into it. Yeah, that’s probably what happened. You know how they are.””Ohp-l-e-a-s-e. I might buy into that if it wasn’t for the fact that half of the beach is in the cooler!”I felt like I was cornered with no escape. She was obviously onto me. I felt her eyes drilling a hole into me. Relentlessly and mercilessly ripping my soul apart with that ‘give me the truth’ stare. Now, I can fabricate stories with the best of them. When I am with the guys reminiscing about the good ole days and all that, my feats become amazing. I am a living legend. Or the fishing tales I can spin are breathless. You know, ‘I would lie to everyone I know, but I wouldn’t lie to you!’I swear type of adventure. Very believable type of B/S. But I become George Washington when my wife gives me that look. I can’t lie. “OK” I blurted out. “I fell with the cooler and everything dumped out and I tried to clean it up the best I could and that’s the truth. So can we go to the water now?”With a bewildered look she replied “sure, but I honestly thought that maybe the kids did do this.” Man, I still can’t read that woman. Should have kept my mouth shut.

Now I was ready to enjoy the water and the waves slapping against me. Ah yeah…cooling offnature’s way. I will just grab one of the boogie boards to lay around on and drift. Hey everything is gone except a round tube float. And it’s pink. That’s all right. I’ll just carry it to the water and swap it with the nice little girl. She has one of the boogie boards and she probably overlooked this. I am sure she will want this nice, pink float. “Hey honey, would you like to swap the boogie board for this sweet pink float that Unkie has?” “NO” she shouted “and you aren’t my real uncle”. I guess I need to turn on my sweet charm with this one. “Oh now, we are all family now and it would be really nice if you let me use the board and you float around in this pretty pink float.” I replied in the little kiddie voice as I reached out and grabbed onto the boogie board. With that she let out a blood curdling scream that made me drop the float and cover my ears. Holy crap I shouted. She took off with the boogie board as everyone around looked at me like I had done something to the ‘poor little girl’. As her mom ran over to her to ask her what was wrong, I figured I might as well just use the frickin’ float. So, squeezing into it off I went afloating. I guess that by the looks I was receiving from everyone, that it isn’t everyday that you might see a grown man floating around in a pink float. But, like it is said, ‘a man that is secure in his manhood can pull off wearing pink.’ So with that I continued letting the ocean waters rush over me as I floated around in perfect peace and tranquility. I was in heaven and being rocked gently. No really. I was dreaming. Dreaming until I bumped into something or I should say someone. Such a rude awakening, as I had drifted off to sleep and drifted into a monster of a man. “Sorry” I said as I realized what happened. “Must have drifted off to sleep and into you by mistake.” “That’s OK” he said in a tone and with that grin on his face that the Grinch had when he was caught by MaryLou Who stealing her tree and gifts. “I know how taxing and tiring it must be trying to keep control of that big old pink float while fighting these mean rough waves. Or to you maybe they seem like a tsunami.”I am a forgiving type of person that tries not to let things bother me. Especially if it may cause me to react in a way that may cause me extreme pain or harm. As this man was with three more goons and that they all were belly laughing at me, I just kinda laid back in the float and back paddled away as I wished them a good day. Wow, that was close. I could have drifted out to sea. Instead I was lucky enough to drift into ‘An absolutely belittling and embarrassing situation.’ Oh well. At least I am still alive and well. Even if I am a little red and wrinkled. Gee. It seems like someone with me might at least think enough of me to wonder where I might be at some time during the day. As usual they are all sitting at the spot and eating and drinking and causing merriment. Then I too shall get out of the water and refresh myself and hope the sun reverses this prune condition. A good cold drink of water and some watermelon and some chips and some whatever will really hit the spot about right now. Carrying the float I head to my family but notice people staring towards me and laughing. Looking behind me to see what was so funny, I saw only ocean. Hhmm. That is weird. I don’t see anything funny about that. Oh boy. Here comes that little punk from the cooler incident. I hope he doesn’t try to blackmail me for more money. Pointing his finger at me and laughing he squealsto his little sister, “look at that.” He obviously was talking about me. Not something behind me. What I didn’t realize was that I looked beet red on half of my face and shoulder. On top of that, my head looked like a chia pet with half it’s chia missing. Kind of like a misconstrued porcupine with my thinning hair poking up in all directions. Man, I hate when that happens. I told my wife I should just shave my hair off. But she always says no. That I have a peanut head and I would look ridiculous bald. What the heck do I look like now. When I reached our spot and everyone there tried not to look too hard or laugh at me, I guess I felt a little more human. Now, time for some….hey….what happened to all the stuff? “Oh. You mean you didn’t have anything yet, honey?” “Not only NO but H— NO!” I let slip out. ” Here is a piece of watermelon that fell in the sand but if you rinse it off it will still be good.” my wife volunteered with her most caring tone she could muster. “I have a half bottle of water you can have too.”,piped in my sister in law. “How about this yogurt. Little Mikey took a bite but then spit it back into the cup. But he hardly had it in his mouth long enough to get his spit on it. If you scrape the top portion out you should be good to go.””Gee, thanks, but I think I will pass on all your offers and just sit here and be miserable and starved. But you are all welcome to listen to my stomach growl and my taste buds scream out for refreshment. That is if you have nothing better to do or feel even a little bit of remorse.”

“Who wants to walk down the beach?”my wife asked while changing the subject. Everyone seemed to come alive and shouted “me” all at once. Except my wife’s uncle. He just stood up and grabbing the sides of his swim trunks, pulled them upwards while twisting them back and forth until they were up above his belly button. Way up above. In fact his waist line now appeared to be at the bottom of his breasts. And he had one heck of a wedgie going on. With that he slipped on his flip flops and put on his floppy hat and began his trek. The others joined him and headed out to explore.

So it was that I was finally going to be able to relax and enjoy what was left of our time here. Left alone I felt as free as the gulls soaring on top of the wind. Oh what a example of nature at it’s best. Here I was in my beach lounge chair. Relaxed and enjoying all the soothing sights and sounds. No noisy, overactive kids to interrupt my meditative state of peace and euphoria. Maybe, just maybe, I can catch a quick nap while they walk farther down the beach. There is nothing like the distant sound of waves to put you into a deep, relaxing slumber……ZZZZZZ……’Euuugh!’. What the…..? Something is in my throat. Falling out of the lounger I clambered into being in an all fours position. On my legs and hands. Spittingto remove the object from my throat, I became aware of an absolutely stomach turning taste and texture. Continuing to expel the ‘stuff’ from my throat and mouth was like upchucking an oyster. But with a much more horrific taste. Looking on the sand where I had spit, I realized what had invaded my very soul and life force was GULL POOP! OMG! I couldn’t get up fast enough as I kept slipping and losing my foot hold in the sand. Standing, then falling and crawling I made it to the cooler. Ripping the lid open I was frantically digging into the unorganized pile of food, ice, sand and empty drinks desperately looking for liquid to rinse my mouth. Grabbing a hold of a bottle of water that was at the bottom,I opened it and open mouthed I poured water into my mouth and throat while gargling and spitting it out. I continued repeating that until the bottle was empty. Throwing it down I retrieved yet another bottle from the cooler. This time after opening the bottle, I poured the water and plenty of attached sand into my mouth. It didn’t matter about the sand as maybe it would help scrub the nastinessout of my mouth. Liquid sandpaper. Finishing that bottle I still felt ‘violated’ and dirty. Getting my bearings back and calming down I was able to completely stand up.It was then I saw that little gull had really unloaded on me. I was covered with a line of his crap straight down my frontal area. From head to toes. How disgusting I felt and surely looked. The gull must have thought he was “The Red Baron”. Maybe I looked like Snoopy from higher up. With my chia hair and sunglasses on. That’s it. I was his (The Red Baron’s) sworn enemy and here I was in his sights. I was totally at his mercy as I had let my guard down and fell asleep. Seems like a cheap shot on his part but after all…all is fair in love and war. Here was his chance. Circling back he began his descent and swooping lower he lined me into his target sights and ‘bombs away’!

 

So much for the kind thoughts I had for these sweet creatures of nature. Those little freaks. I knew I couldn’t trust them. After all, look at how wild they act when someone throws some bread or crackers at them. They go crazy with a mob mentality kind of thing. None of that was important right now. What was important was to go into the water to clean off this mess I had all over me and to drink about 100 gallons of saltwater to try to remove the last vestiges of the awful experience I had just been through. Traumatized I waded into the water and with an open mouth submerged myself. Gulping and spitting furiously I was able to replace the bird yuck with salty yuck taste. It would take me longer to get over the emotional and mental aspect of the cruel and bitter attack upon my person. I guess this all could be chalked up to karma because I remember laughing at a friend that suffered a similar incident. Even though his was just a single plop from a little birdie I guess the karmic powers multiplied the response. Shaking my fist to the skies I began to curse the universe for such a harsh reprisal for something years ago. Darn, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea. “I take it back. I had a minute of weakness.” I screamed out into the cosmos. Hopefully the universe can take a joke, I was thinking when I happened to see my crowd coming. “Thank Goodness” I proclaimed to them as they got closer. “Now we can go home, I hope. I’ve had all the fun and excitement I can stand for one day.” They all agreed it was getting late and we should pack up and head home.

As we began getting everything packed and ready I made a silent vow of secrecy to myself to NEVER divulge any information about the ‘incident’ as I had come to name it. It will forever remain locked away in my mind. No one needs to know about it. Other than the 20 or so beach bums that were eyewitness to it no one else will know. Well, except the people they will tell later today or tonight as they get a good laugh. Gosh, I sure hope no one recorded it for YouTube fame. Nah. Get your act together and let’s go. Next stop is the showers to rinse the sand off. Like that really works. I don’t care how long you rinse, the sand is ever present as you climb into your vehicles. Anyway off we go. I now have help in carrying the cooler and all the other stuff has been divvied out to make the return to the van easy. I just need to load everything in again. That I begin doing as the others take the kids back to rinse them off. Thank goodness I am not stuck with that fiasco. I hear blood curdling screams as the kids are held under the showers. Oh listen. They have great harmony as they scream in unison. What is it with kids. They either love the showers or they hate them. Sounds like hate to me. For myself I shall just brush as much sand off as I can. Voila. Now to put a towel on my seat and I am ready! Here comes the others with the kids leading the way, running from my wife and sister in law who are trying to dry them off after the shower. They are like me and want nothing more to do with being tortured. With the side doors of the van open, they both dive into the van. With them they bring what seems likea ton of sand with them and water that is dripping from them. So much for all that effort to keep the van clean. I really don’t care because we are heading home.

Now that we are all finally loaded and strapped in, I can head to that wonderful comfort zone I refer to as ‘home’. Off we go and it isn’t long before my nephew is deep into lala land. Wore out like the real hard playing trooper he is. The ‘extended family’ niece is starting to crank up again with a few why and when questions, but no one even answers her and she eventually gets quite and drifts off to sleep too. We all kind of drift off into our little worlds as the day at the beach begins to wear on us. The sand, sun and wind has an almost narcotic effect on a person and we were no exception. Dropping my son off he is off to work and had a quick snooze in the van. Next was my wife’s uncle. He talks very little until he has his liquid tongue loosener. He gathers his few items and in his native German language bids us Tschüß. Hallelujah. One more stop and then home! We proceed to my sister in laws house. Waking up the two little angels one at a time, she gets them into the house as I unload her stuff and take it to her house. Climbing back into the van I think “so long sucker.” as I back out of the drive and head home.

 

Pulling into my drive I feel like a heavy load has been lifted off my shoulders. I am back home safely with my lovely wife and I have survived the experience. I unloaded the van and emptied and rinsed the cooler. As I walked into the house my wife asked if I had a good time. “Yes I did” I lied. “Maybe we can do it again next week” she remarked. It really doesn’t pay to lie does it? Oh well, as long as it makes her happy thinking so, I am game. She heads for the shower as I tell her I am going to get my wet clothes off. Going into the bedroom I sat down on the bed and that is where my wife found me sleeping. Gotta love Beaufort summer days!

Written by:PLUFFMUD

 

Thank You Daniel

Lowcountry Encore Magazine, Beaufort South Carolina

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