A Funny Thing Happened…

A funny thing happened on my last trip to the beach; rather, several amusingly bizarre things that left my friend and I shaking our heads in bewilderment and wondering if we were, in fact, part of some sort of candid camera exposé.

On this particular afternoon, we literally sailed along the Robert Moses Causeway, over all three bridges, and were parked in less than 30 minutes - a record-breaking feat, to be sure, and a far improvement over the recent painstakingly slow bumper-to-bumper expeditions we have had to contend with. Amazed at this fortunate turn of events, we began to unload the car and make our way to the sand, when we noticed the deafening silence. 

Usually, the beach is filled with the sounds of children laughing and playing, radios blasting a cacophony of musical notes, the waves crashing against the shoreline… but on this particular afternoon, there was only silence. It was as if we had entered a parallel universe, a bubble of tranquility.  

Once we had settled in, I noticed the enormous number of seagulls who seemed to be hovering nearby, taking off and landing a bit too close for comfort. Just as I was thinking this one particular winged creature appeared to be launching its flight awfully low to the ground, my friend burst into laughter as he barely cleared her head. “He literally just hit me in the head!” she exclaimed. “I just felt his feet running across my hair!”

From Candid Camera to Alfred Hitchcock, in a matter of minutes. 

After an hour or so of baking in the hot sun, we decided to embark on our regular trek toward the Lighthouse in search of seashells, and of course that picture perfect shot of the waves crashing onto the shore. This time, I decided to make it my mission to collect several dozen oyster shells in order to create a heart-shaped work of art in the sand. About one hour, and several ocean wipeouts of my masterpiece later, we decided to head back.

Now generally, after a lengthy absence, it is perfectly normal to find our blanket surrounded by new neighbors, or perhaps none, as the beach tends to begin to empty in the late afternoon sun. This time, we were greeted with a man, sitting in a single chair, surrounded by about a half dozen assorted beach bags, coolers and folding chairs - and an umbrella… one giant umbrella, staked right at the edge of my blanket, engulfing our entire area in complete shadow. 

I contemplated asking him to join us; then settled on politely asking him to move, as I hadn’t come to the beach to share his umbrella. He stared at me blankly, expressionless. Then, without a word, he slowly, deliberately got up and moved his umbrella - about half an inch. Completely bewildered, my friend and I exchanged a look. Was he serious? Were we the only people who understood the concept of personal boundaries? An entire field of sand, and here we were fighting over one square foot of space. 

Flabbergasted, we decided to gather our things and move slightly up the beach, to a completely empty expanse devoid of rogue umbrellas, seagulls and any other potential pitfalls. As we settled into this new spot, we were startled by the sound of people squealing and turned to see our old area now engulfed by the high tide. 

And there, in the middle of the surf, sat our old friend and his umbrella. 


{Published: August 2nd, 2017}

Jamie Lynn RyanComment