What if?: Beach Tales

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Beach Tales

I distinctly remember the first time the song "Surfin' Safari" by the Beach Boys was played in my presence. I was thirteen years old and we were on our way to the eastern shore. Our destination was Ocean City, Maryland. I had never seen the ocean before and was excited to get there. It was a summer vacation I won't soon forget.

"Surfin' Safari" began playing as we got onto the bridge that takes you across the bay and into Ocean City. The smells of the ocean were floating on the wind. We were packed tight into the family station wagon. Since dad didn't go, mom was driving and I was riding shotgun. I stuck my head out the window, captivated by the smells and sounds. The smell of the ocean was met with the smells of steamed crabs, cotton candy, carmel popcorn and Solarcaine. The boardwalk captivated me as soon as it came into view. I could hardly wait to get there. I could hardly wait to feel the sand under my feet. This was going to be the best vacation ever!

We arrived at our hotel at about 11 a.m. Mom checked us in and we carted all our stuff to the third floor room that would be home for the week. I couldn't wait to get out onto the beach. I wanted to check out the boardwalk. I wanted to do everything right away. My mother fished a ten dollar bill out of her wallet and told me to have fun and to meet her at five. The first place I went was a music store. I had to own that song. It spoke to me. That one song was to become the theme song to my summer.

I popped the tape into my walkman and set out for the boardwalk. That place looked like fun. I still had money left over. There were numerous food stands to choose from. I decided on a hotdog and chowed it down quickly so I could continue to explore this new place. There was a big haunted house that didn't open until dark. I made a mental note of that so I could bring my siblings there and watch them all get scared. The rides loomed just up ahead. There was a ferris wheel, a small roller coaster, a carousel, and various other carnival type rides. This place was going to be fun.

It was then I decided that I needed to be on the beach. This turned out to be a good thing to do as the beach was rife with women in bikinis. I was thirteen and raging hormones took over as I watched bikini after bikini pass in front of me. I found a small outcrop of rocks to sit on and just relax. There was a certain magic in the air. Either that or it was the rotting fish smell. Either way, I found a little piece of heaven right here on earth.

I must have listened to that Beach Boys tape a hundred times that first day. It was a greatest hits tape that contained many other nuggets of musical joy for me that summer. "Fun Fun Fun" was my favorite. It reminded me of my father's Thunderbird. That may have been my favorite, but to this day I listen to "Surfin' Safari every time I go to the beach.

Anyway, that summer trip to the shore was probably one of the defining moments of my life. It was there that I experienced my first kiss. Her name was Heather. She was from Baltimore, Maryland. I met her our first night there. She was coming out of the haunted house as I was entering with my brothers and sister. She said hi and giggled. I turned bright red and scurried myself into the haunted house. What a good time that was. There were real live people all dressed up as zombies. They would pop out when you least expected it. There was one really long hallway where a man with a chainsaw would come out from behind you, rev the motor and start running after you. Never mind the fact there wasn't a chain on the blade, it was scary then.

After going through the haunted house, we walked down the boardwalk a bit to meet mom. Heather sneaked up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. I about jumped out of my skin. She giggled. I turned red.

"I have to get these three back to mom." I said to Heather.

"Mind if I tag along?"

"Cool, that would be alright."

This is how Heather joined our summer vacation. She would come by the hotel in the morning, hang out with me all day and not leave until eleven at night. She was sweet and kind. We would go out on the beach in the morning and look for shells. She would always find the best ones. We even saw a hermit crab changing his shell. We named him Herman. Heather was my best friend for that week. If not for her I wouldn't have ever figured out how to eat a crab.

The night she kissed me, and make no bones about it, she kissed me, it was cool and breezy. She was getting a little chilly so I offered her my sweatshirt. She kissed me right then and there. Off in the distance there was a song playing, it was "Night Moves" by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. I won't ever forget that song as long as I live. Her lips were soft. She was gentle with her kiss. I didn't know what to do, so like any thirteen year old boy, I shoved my tongue into her mouth as akwardly as possible. To her credit she didn't let on that it may have been akward or unwanted.

That summer will always stand out in my mind. Those songs will always carry with them a sentimental value that can't be replaced by anything else. Who can't name the first person who ever kissed them? Music is a part of our lives. I can associate things with most of the songs on my ipod playlist. I think we are all like that in our own way.


Blogger Pater said...

Good story! A few minor quibbles that caught my attention early on:

"It was a summer vacation I won't soon forget."

I'm not sure that's the right way to say that, as you are referring to something from years ago already.

"The smells of the ocean were floating on the wind."

Seems like it doesn't really go there. You essentially repeat the meat of that sentence later in the paragraph when you write about the smells. Speaking of...

"The smell of the ocean was met with the smells of steamed crabs, cotton candy, carmel popcorn and Solarcaine."

I don't think 'met with' are the words you want there. Something like 'mingled' or 'collided' or 'collusion', you know, whatever you want.

The thing that I think is missing from this story, which does a great job of capturing adolescent memories, is a little bit more substance regarding Heather joining the party. Perhaps that's the point, that she was a bit of an impulsive, not-shy person. But when I read it, my first reaction was more of confusion. Perhaps a bit more about their meeting after she sneaks up on them - how they introduce themselves, something. Maybe.

That's all for me. Good work!

9:32 PM  
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