Of all the sand that exists in the world, half of it is in my house. One sixth of all the sand in the world is at the beach; one third is in the various deserts you can see from space; and the rest is in drifts in my laundry room. Really, it's more of a laundry closet-cubicle, or a pantry. It's a laundry mysterious catacomb, and someday, just before I'm dead, when I've finally achieved my lifelong goal of developing an interest in sweeping behind the hot water heater, I'll discover the missing mummy of Zoser tangled up in used dryer sheets, snacking on uncooked farfalle. All this sand is because Jackson has discovered the beach. He is ten years old, he has spent his whole life within two miles of the ocean, but he has never been interested in the beach. He was one of those babies who hated the way the sand stuck to his feet, and I was fine with that, I was happy to strap him on the back of my bike and take him out for ice cream instead. So Jack blames me for Jackson's beach ambivalence and he is absolutely right to do so. I couldn't give a rat's ass about the beach. The beach is a giant strip of finely ground dirt. It's hard to walk there, it's incredibly loud, and I've always thought Charles Bukowski was right: it isn't beautiful. I didn't move to California to play volleyball, despite what you may have heard. (Fun fact: I came for the earthquakes.) No, give me a wireless connection and some knitting needles and I'll stay out of your hair indefinitely.
I know that people around the world save up for years, they dream about coming to California to warm their vitamin D-deficient bodies and to bury their toes in the sand and to ogle whoever it is that they're genetically programmed to ogle, and I respect that. So what's my problem? Sure, you could boil it down to skin cancer and sharks, but don't assume that I'm ungrateful for the privilege of living here. I pay for it every day. But, you know: skin cancer. Sharks.
Some families from Jackson's school got together and decided to meet once a week at the beach during summer vacation, and since my work schedule is flexible Jackson and I decided to go join the gang one afternoon. I strapped on a bikini and tucked Nora Ephron into my bag and three hours later Jackson's head was full of salt water and he couldn't believe how much fun he'd had.
We bought him a wet suit. We sent him to beach camp. He came back with freckles on his nose and seaweed in his shorts.
And now I have tan lines all over my body and sand all over my house.
Last week we took Peewee to the beach with us for a couple of hours to see how he'd do.
He didn't like it at first.
Then he started coming around.
Then he was all, What's up, ladies?
The problem was that we'd brought Peewee's collapsible water dish and filled it up with bottled water, but a bunch of sand got in it, so for every ounce of water he drank he ingested half a pound of sand. Which he would then spend the next twelve hours barfing all over Jackson's bed, and Jackson's floor, and all over the clothes on Jackson's floor.
Me, having no idea the amount of dog-barf-soaked laundry I was about to do.
That guy out there with the boogie board, holding a little kid on his hip? Ten minutes after I took this photo I was lying there with my eyes closed and he staggered up and was all, "Isn't it weird when they get between your legs?" And I was all, Do I need to open my eyes and see if this guy is saying oddly suggestive things to me? Because I would rather not. But of course I opened my eyes to confirm that he was indeed addressing me about the betweens of my legs, and I said, "Excuse me?" And he was all, "The stingrays! Man, it's freaky when you're in the water and then they're all [wiggles hands] flapping their wings against your legs!"
Oh, God. Sting rays, seaweed. Dog barf. Freckles. Oddly suggestive dudes! I had no idea what I'd been missing all these years.