The Best Beach Reads

IMG_1480                                                                  Sunset at Belmar, NJ

I always bring one or two books to the beach even though I rarely read more than one or two pages. It’s crazy, I know. For someone who enjoys reading, the beach is the perfect place to relax and get into a book. Except it’s not. Why? Because it’s also one of the more interesting people watching places you’ll ever find and I find my attention to human interaction is much more entertaining than the pages in front of me.

As an example, we got to the beach last Tuesday at roughly 10:00. It’s a good time; not many people there yet and you have the opportunity to pick your spot. So I sit and enjoy the ocean for a bit, take a walk down to check out the water, realize it’s still only the end of June and head back to my chair. Fifty-eight degree temps just don’t interest me anymore. So I pull out a book and begin to read, just as the show begins.

Now, before you get the wrong impression, this isn’t a post about bathing suits. That would take too much time and my eyes still haven’t recovered from the abuse they took that particular day. No, this is more about people. In no particular order, this is what kept me entertained most of the day…

I enjoy watching families, especially the Mom who walks around like she’s on a mission to find the perfect spot, holding her sunglasses and towel while her children and husband trudge along twenty yards behind, lugging half the contents of their home, only to realize there’s not enough room to spread out and create their own beach zip code. I especially like when she seems to decide on a spot and just as everyone puts everything down and drops to the sand exhausted, she decides on another location. Yeah, those little interactions and comments are fun to watch and hear.

Then there was the guy who sat behind and off to the side of us with his girlfriend who forgot where he was and thought it was his day to conduct a seminar on healthy living, diet and exercise. He thought he had an audience of one, his significant other, but didn’t realize that he forgot to tone down the volume on his voice and that anyone within a twenty yard radius had to listen to him preach to the young lady he was with about how she should be going to the gym at least six days a week, the system cleansing formula he uses and what she should and should not be eating. This went on, no lie, for almost a half hour, non stop. The young lady didn’t say a word or ask a question. She just silently got up after he took a pause and went into the water. I was tempted to follow her because I was afraid she would decide that the option of continuing to swim out as far as she could was better than going to back to more of that monotone, nails on a chalkboard torture.

In front of us was a group of six teens, four girls and two boys. Three of the girls sat together and one of the boys sat next to them. The other boy interacted with those four and the last girl but this last girl sat with her back to the other three girls, and the water. She sat with her legs pulled up to her chest and a sketch book on her lap. She never moved from that position until she left three hours later without saying goodbye to the other four teens. She spoke to one of the boys, who I guessed was her boyfriend, but to no one else, even though all of their towels touched.

To my right was a group of four college age girls who brought their hula hoops with them. Between laying on a blanket and swimming, they would practice their hoop routines. My guess is they are part of some competition team based on some of their moves but you don’t usually do something like that with so many people around you, especially when the stray hoop lands on someone’s head, which it did, and was bound to happen. On the other hand, if you’re looking for attention…

Of course, there is always the group who decides to plop down three feet in front of you, opening their chairs and umbrellas and blocking your view of the ocean, even though there are plenty of other spaces. These people are always in the water and almost never in their chairs but remain clueless about beach etiquette.

And yes, there is such a thing as beach etiquette.

There are other things I enjoy. I love watching the gulls tear into bags of chips and food left open and unattended and the bewildered look on the faces of the owners when they arrive back to find lunch has already been served. Or watching people fight with umbrellas that get turned inside out on windy days or even those who think they can purchase four, soft serve ice cream cones on a sunny,  90 degree day and walk a hundred yards back to their chairs without it turning into a puddle of mess.

Maybe one day I’ll bring a book and actually get though a paragraph or two while sitting on the beach. Maybe. But I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it.

The stories around me always seem to be much more interesting.

31 thoughts on “The Best Beach Reads

    1. George Post author

      You’re so right, Libby. I do the same thing. Most of my readings is done at night. There’s just too much good stuff going on everywhere else..:) Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  1. DailyMusings

    I laughed throughout this post and could picture each scene exactly. The shore provides its own entertainment. Last year we walked the beach from Ocean Grove to Asbury Park, taking in the sights but never planting ourselves on the sand- now I remember why 😀

    Like

    Reply
    1. George Post author

      Thank you, and you’re right, the shore is a wealth of free entertainment…and I didn’t even start writing about the boardwalk yet..:) We love walking the beach also, sometimes when it’s busy and sometimes when it’s quiet. Two different experiences, as you know…:)

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. Ann Coleman

    Great post! I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who gets distracted by the people watching when I’m out in a crowded, public place, even when that place is as beautiful as a beach. The human interaction is just so interesting. I find myself doing this when I’m at the stadium as well, rather than watching the ball game in front of me. Loved your descriptions…

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. George Post author

      I’m with you, Ann. People watching is a great pastime for me. Just watch out at ballgames. Sometimes it helps to know where the ball/bat/puck, etc is going..:)

      Like

      Reply
  3. Mary Lou

    Maybe I will just print out all your stories and take them to the beach instead of a book! I truly enjoy everyhting you write. This last one was right on the money! SO true, although I find it hard to NOT open my mouth when a man is “lecturing” or someone is so rude as to plop right in front of my view. I have to admit a man (the same man) did this several times to me at a softball gam e and after game 3, I ” politely” asked him why he chooses to do this? it’s very rude I said. His reply … well after dropping the f bomb at a childrens game he moved never to sit in front of me again. Love the stories George keep them coming I leave in 3 weeks and need some good reading ! 🙂

    Like

    Reply
  4. uju

    I love this post, especially since i read it at a time when my day was going south and you made me smile.
    btw reading is always best at night when there’re no humans (or animals) to distract you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. George Post author

      I agree, uju. I need quiet in order to read or write. I don’t know how people tune out the distractions but I’m never able to do it. Glad I was able to provide a smile to your day, especially if it was going south.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  5. ericafuni

    Love people watching. I had a look of horror on my face while reading the part about the guy telling his girlfriend to work out. Annoying and messed up.

    Like

    Reply
  6. Pistachios

    This is why I take so long to get through books! I take a book almost everywhere I go, but a lot of the time I just want to sit and watch everything going on around me. Even on my bus/train commute to and from work – the same route every day, but always a different mix of people to watch.

    Like

    Reply
  7. joylovestravel

    Completely agree George – I am a bookworm and can’t stop reading, except if I’m on a beach or somewhere people are going about their business, then I can never manage more than a page either!! Real life becomes so much more intriguing.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s