12:17:58 am on
Monday 17 Jun 2024

Beach Blanket
Jennifer Flaten

Last week with temperatures in the 90's and the humidity through the roof, we decided to go to the beach....yeah, us and about 200 other people.

Why, yes it was a rather ill conceived plan...still it was cooler at the beach.

The nice thing about being early birds, because we are early birds-if the kids had their way, we would have been on the beach at 7am, is that we were able to grab a pretty decent spot on the beach.

Once we found the perfect position, by a careful calculation of distance between towel, water and snack shack/bathrooms, we spread out our blankets.

The blanket spreading is the universal signal to commence kicking off shoes and stripping off beach cover-ups. The blanket had barely settled on the sand and the kids were tossing off their shoes.

The second their naked toes touched the sand they did the hot sand dance

You've never heard of the hot sand dance?


It is the little jig you do on the super hot sand to keep one foot and about four toes on your other foot (the foot that is sizzling in the sand) elevated-that's the hot sand dance.

Due to our early arrival, we had a significant amount of time to wait before the beach officially opened, even with the mandatory pre swim snack we still had about half an hour to kill.

It was fun to watch the rest of the eager beavers creep closer and closer to the water, only to have the lifeguards sternly order them back behind the lifeguard station

Of course, the wait turned out to be slightly longer then a half hour.

That is because the teenage lifeguards were enjoying flexing their newfound authority. It is fun for them to order people around for a change instead of visa-versa.

We made wise use of our wait time. We slathered our blindingly white selves with sunscreen. When you are a native Wisconsinite-you need a minimum SPF 150

As the minute hand crept closer to splash time, people began to congregate right behind the magical white tower.

Like a bunch of Pavlovian dogs, the minute the whistle blew they stampeded into the water.

Since this is an actual lake, it has the usual algae, weeds, fish (some dead, some not).

I really enjoyed watching the fish zoom out of the way the incoming herd of swimmers.

All through the day, I occasionally saw a fish blunder into the swimming area; you could see the panic in his little fishy eyes as he darted between people seeking to get the hell outta there.

The lifeguards spent an inordinate amount of time barking at the various swimmers who attempted to enter the "forbidden" section of the beach.

You know it would be helpful if this particular section contained...oh, I don't know a sign that said "DO NOT ENTER". Instead, it looked like every other section of the beach.

Who wouldn't want to go in the section that is completely empty of people? Moreover, why exactly couldn't we swim in that section? Man-eating algae? Piranha?? What?

While the children were, "swimming" and I use that term loosely, seeing as they haven't quite mastered the art paddling

Although they think they have, basically, their swimming involves flailing about and generating a huge amount of wake.

Still, they are in the water, moving through it, so I guess it is swimming, besides who am I to quibble?


As the kids frolicked, I used my time to engage in that time honored beach tradition of people watching.

I'm pretty sure the makers of the program "What Not to Wear" would fall into a dead faint upon seeing the people at my beach

Naturally, you have the beautiful girls/boys who look just fine and dandy.

Then you have the rest of use who look like normal people at the beach and then you have the "what the hell does your mirror tell you?" group

I mean these people go beyond the mirror lies into the mirror was obviously cross transmitting a picture of Angelina Jolie when they were trying on that suit.

As the mother of young girls, I am concerned about the whole body image thing (anorexia etc), so I alternated between thinking how nice it is that so many people have such great self-esteem and gasping in horror at some of the outfits.


I am talking about the women who are apparently going straight from the beach to an audition for the new Paul Verhooven masterpiece Showgirls 3-The Wisconsin Years.

Now before you think I am limiting my judgment to only women, I would like to point out the men

Ah, the men, those swell fellas who think at age 65, after a long life in the pursuit of good meals and beer, that a Speedo is appropriate beachwear

I also admit to being a bit perplexed, when I see some older gent slathering himself with Hawaiian Tropic and placing himself on the chaise lounge to broil like a salmon filet-has he never heard of skin cancer?

I believe a learned many a thing from my perch on my beach blanket-what not to wear, where not to go on the beach and finally, that Gummi bears will revert to a gelatinous mass at temps in the 90's.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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