The grandkids are up for the week. Yesterday, we took them to New Jersey’s Point Pleasant Beach; a lengthy boardwalk lined with greasy eateries, souvenir shops and numerous games of chance involving water guns and spinning wheels in booths walled with stuffed animals that reek of Third World sweatshops.
It was hot, miserably and wretchedly hot. The sun bore down from a cloudless sky. Because of the currents and rip tides created by Hurricane Bill’s passage off the coast, the red flags were out, which meant no swimming.
We stopped for lunch in a restaurant overlooking the beach. Point Pleasant is a beach where, for seven dollars, an adult can rent a small rectangle of space on a public beach (children five to twelve, two-fifty, under five free because they take up less space).
As I sat munching on my ten-dollar cheeseburger, looking at the greased bodies baking in the sun, I remembered my first “beach epiphany.” It was many years ago when I thought going to the beach was cool because that’s what the TV commercials told me. I was lying on a damp towel beneath an unforgiving sun, slick with oil and sand grinding in my crotch.
As I lay there in my misery, I suddenly remembered that 150 years ago the Apaches staked their prisoners out on the hot sand beneath a blazing sun, and here I was voluntarily doing what the Apaches forced their prisoners to do. I figured, screw the commercials and went home. I’ve never been back.
Looking out over Point Pleasant beach and watching slick bodies roasting in the noon day sun and mothers struggling with strollers heavy with beach towels, inflatable toys, diaper bags, beach chairs and beach umbrellas, I had my second epiphany.
Hell isn’t a pit of fire and brimstone; hell is a beach where sinners are forced to sun bathe 24/7, without sun block and with flapping red flags standing between them and the refreshing coolness of waves breaking on the beach.