Things I’ve Learned On the Beach


Vacations are not breaks from learning. The powers of observation can be amazing educational tools. I’ve learned more about bathing suits than I ever thought possible. Notice, I’m not saying it’s good. Below, a list of lessons. Yes, they’re kind of critical. But clearly, somebody has to say it.

1. European men still think Speedos are the way to go.

I really don’t understand this. It’s like they stubbornly refuse to wear any bathing attire other than a Speedo. And apparently, the more brightly-colored or wildly patterned, the better. I’m amazed I didn’t see anything with feathers strut by. Why do these guys not understand how incredibly UNflattering these things are, even when you’re 26 and gorgeous? Are they really comfortable? How is it possible that they’re comfortable? If you want to be seen, wear one. If you want to be seen and not make people look away, stick to trunks.

1A. The only thing worse than a guy in a Speedo is an old guy in a stretched-out Speedo.

I don’t think I need to explain this. But it did remind me of an episode at a different beach a few years ago. This guy wearing some sort of natural-colored fishnet “cover-up” decided to make camp right next to us. He had long, curly bleached blond hair and a leathery tan. He wore, I kid you not, a stretched-out gold lame’ Speedo. And…

…wait for it…

a fanny pack.

It was like Sammy Hagar went on a bender, forgot where he was, and decided to catch some rays.

Exactly like this, but with a belly and a tan. Wait. It might have actually been Sammy Hagar. (Image from the uber-classy

After he was finished with his visit, he climbed on a bicycle and rode off.

I’ll let you fully process that image.

Okay then.

2. There is seriously  no end of middle-aged, potbellied men who believe it’s perfectly acceptable to show at least two inches of butt crack while walking around the beach.

These men are usually with their wives. I don’t understand how they’re permitted to get away with this. They’ve got their shorts slung so low, everyone else is subject to their posterior crests. And it’s not cute. In fact, it’s usually furry. And not kitten furry or puppy furry or baby bunny rabbit furry.

3. There is also no end of women of all ages who wear ill-advised bathing suits.

I suppose I should applaud these women and girls for having a healthy enough body image to flaunt the flab, the cellulite, the jiggly bits. In a way, I think it’s great that they’re comfortable with their bodies. But people, I’m not that old and I’m a healthy weight, and I still keep my cellulite covered. It’s just polite. I know that my flaws lie in my proverbial trunk, and I’m not going to show you what they are. It’s so much sexier if you don’t let it all hang out. What is it about the current times that make people thing it’s better to show everything right from jump? Am I my grandmother? Are there kids on my lawn? I don’t think so.

4. There are also plenty of girls and women who don’t feel the need to keep their legs closed while they’re lying about on the beach. One of them was facing me directly. And when I say her legs were not closed, I mean if her doctor were around, she’d be totally ready for a quick pelvic. She was from some other country, but I’m  not having that as an excuse. Knees together, love. Where is your mother?

But, turns out…

5. There are parents who seemingly don’t care what their daughters look like on the beach.

Now. I have plenty of therapy-necessitating issues borne of my mother ‘s criticisms. But never, not ever, did I wear a bikini, untie the top strap that goes around your neck, tie it behind my back instead, and then slouch over to play cards. Legs akimbo, and fabric I mean barely covering nipples. She could have been wearing pasties, for all the good this bikini top was doing while she had the top strap tied around her back. And her parents were right there. Right there! How does that happen? I wasn’t even allowed to wear a bikini for as long as I lived in my parents’ house. I swear, I didn’t own one until I was 22. But here’s this lovely 17-year-old girl with a sweet face and she’s all exposed. In front of her father. I wanted to roll up my magazine and smack him in the head with it.

I don’t get it.

6. Trying too hard automatically negates attractiveness.

This is one of those things you don’t learn until you’re older, and God, do I wish I knew it ten years ago. The people I see trying too hard are younger, and it breaks my heart. They’re teetering on four-inch heels and wearing short skirts that they keep having to pull down as they walk. Their hair is all Done, but it’s humid and it’s breezy, so they’re getting frustrated with it. It’s hard work to be beautiful. But at their age, it’s harder to just let yourself be beautiful, and that’s sad, because it’s so much easier to look lovely naturally when you’re 22. I just want to stop these girls on the street and tell them to relax. Don’t make it so much harder than it is. I say this in all seriousness and heartfelt sincerity: there is more beauty in grace than there will ever be in glamour. If you’re not comfortable, you’re less beautiful. Let it go, and it will come to you. You’ll be irresistible. All the great ones knew it: Hepburn, Kelly, Bacall. There are famous, beautiful women right now who know it: Halle Berry, Diane Lane, Ashley Judd come to mind. Confidence and grace. They’re what make you beautiful. They’re what make men stare. Hairspray and spandex are for rookies.


3 thoughts on “Things I’ve Learned On the Beach

  1. I hate to tell you this, but as you get even older, you care less and less what people, especially younger people, think. And it seems to be inexorable. I always tried to be dignified and conservatively fashionable, but I find myself forgetting to be. Fortunately, I have a dignified wife that keeps me in line with an an occasional (??), Bud, you’re not going to wear that, are you?” Women seem to keep caring longer that men.

    Anyway, I’m sitting here in my family room in my leopard Speedo watching a Pamela Anderson flick. Aren’t you glad you’re somewhere else?

    • Ha! It’s okay to stop caring what others think. I don’t care about what others think – I care about what I think of myself. Maybe it’s vanity, but I prefer to think of it as self-respect. 🙂 And I do believe in generally being aware of what you’re subjecting people to. If you want to sit in your leopard Speedo in your family room, that’s totally fine. Don’t leave the house, though. 🙂

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