My wife is addicted to the sea, and seems compelled to dip her toes in salt water at least once each year. It’s almost as if her ancestors developed limbs and crawled from the sea only four or five generations back — which would come as no big surprise to me. Not that she would actually go into the surf, mind you. She hasn’t done that since she saw “Jaws.”
Every spring she gets a faraway look in her eyes, a sure sign we will soon pack the car and venture down to the sea again. She starts reading brochures and searching the Internet for the perfect place to get her salt water fix. It doesn’t help that TV is awash in resort commercials all winter.
Of course, as anyone who has ever vacationed at the shore would know, those commercials are completely bogus.
There are no obese, pale women with slathers of sunscreen, lying on the sand like a pod of beached whales. There are no men dressed in striped shirts and plaid Bermudas, wearing sandals and black socks. There are no rowdy, obnoxious, whiny children in these commercials. In fact, the beach is deserted except for one handsome couple strolling hand-in-hand along the shore.
And the beach itself is always pristine. You see no mats of slimy seaweed, no rotting jellyfish, and no litter of any kind. And, of course, there are no trash cans filled with rotting food and swarming with flies. Why would they need trash cans?
The surf? There isn’t any. The crystal-clear water laps gently onto the beach. You will see bigger waves on the shores of Lake Lanier.
It’s easy to imagine how these commercials are filmed. The crew arrives, and the director picks up a bullhorn.
“Attention, everyone! This beach is now closed, so gather up all your crap and get out of here. Hey, Fatso! Yes, you with the plaid Bermudas pulled up to your armpits! Gather up that stinking seaweed over there and take it with you.”
As the tourists hurriedly gather their towels, chairs, umbrellas, sunscreen and obnoxious, whining brats, buses arrive filled with beautiful bikini-clad models and handsome, tanned men.
Other vehicles arrive with dozens of groundskeepers to rid the beach of footprints and any other sign of human habitation. Caterer trucks and chefs arrive to prepare for the big party scene to be filmed at sunset.
All of it is far removed from any reality, designed to lure people like my wife and strip them of every cent of the vacation money they have squirreled away all winter.
I was in bed watching TV a few nights ago as Whatshername once again demonstrated her superior intellect by reading a book. As usual, the cover featured Fabio ripping the bodice of Angelina Jolie. When a resort commercial came on, her attention was immediately drawn to the TV, and she got that familiar faraway look in her eyes.
When the commercial ended and her attention returned to bodice ripping, I decided I should have some say in the vacation planning.
“You can cross that place off your list, because I refuse to go there.”
“And why is that, Mister Travel Expert?”
“Why would I pay money to go to a place with that name? I get plenty of that here at home.”
“Why do you keep fighting the idea of a hearing aid?”
Her voice rising, she said, “Beaches! It’s B-E-A-C-H-E-S!”
I should have let it go, but I get tired of her always having the last word. After a few minutes to gather my thoughts, I spoke up again.
“No matter. I had already decided on that other resort. It sounds more like my kind of place.”
“Oh? And which one is that?”
“You know, the one with those great commercials.”
She gave me a look, put down her book and switched off her lamp. I had won the match. I had the last word!
— Myles Godfrey, a Georgia newspaper guy most of his life, still dabbles in journalism — when he’s not helping his wife plan their next vacation.