DeAnne Smith and the Truth About the Beach

Summer is almost upon us and I’ve recently discovered something about myself, Autostraddlers. It’s not easy for me to tell you this. I fear that once it’s out, you won’t like me as much as you do right now. You certainly won’t admire me. It’s possible that I’ll lose what respect you might have for me. Are you ready? Take a deep breath, everyone.

I’m kind of attracted to Scotty McCreery from American Idol.

But that’s not what I wanted to tell you. (And anyway, it’s not my fault “Scotty the hottie” has recently come into my world and made it all adorable and dreamy. Blame TV. Blame his bass voice. Blame my penchant for the perfect, predictable and wholesome rhymes of contemporary country music.) What I wanted to tell you is that I’ve discovered (or rather learned to accept) that, despite the fact that I’d really like to be, I am not a beach person. It’s a painful realization.

It was on the way to the beach, as I found myself worrying about whether or not I had enough sunscreen and/or whether or not the sunscreen I had was mild enough that it wouldn’t irritate my skin and/or whether or not I had packed enough snacks and/or whether or not I could refill my water bottle and/or whether or not there would be sufficient shade and/or whether or not I would want an extra towel so that I’d have one to dry off on and one to lay on, that I had to admit to myself that I am not a laid-back, beachy type of person. I’d like to think I am, but I’m not. How could I be? I don’t even own a pair of sunglasses. When it’s sunny, what I do is, I take off my regular glasses, then I squint and occasionally complain.

I like the beach (I really do!) but I’m not good at it. I do not enjoy being hot. I do not enjoy getting sunburn. I do not enjoy the feeling of sand in any of my many orifices. I do not enjoy being tossed around by large waves, or seeing old men in Speedos, or worrying about crabs. What I do enjoy is reading in the shade, and that’s how I end up spending most of my time at the beach. Truthfully, I could put an ocean sounds CD on in a library and have pretty much the same day I’d have at the beach¹, including the worrying about crabs.

Beach people, by nature, are easy-going. No one has ever referred to me as “easy-going.” Not once have I been leaning back, smoking a joint, listening to some classic Steve Miller Band and thinking, “Yeah, man. I relate to this shit.” Never in my life have I played frisbee or fallen asleep in a hammock or had the inclination to utter, “s’all good.” When plans change, I don’t just smile and go with the flow, what I do is, I take off my regular glasses, then I squint and occasionally complain.

Adjectives people have used to describe me are “anxious” and “moody” and “neurotic.” But so what? Those are fun qualities to have at the beach, aren’t they? Sure they are, if you like being at the beach and thinking about rip tides, skin cancer, the painful stings of box jellyfish, and the long term negative effects of oil spills on fragile marine ecosystems. That’s fun, right? Just don’t forget the 50+ sunblock and the huge beach umbrella. Have I mentioned that I burn easily? Because I do. Half an hour in the sun and I’m more burned than Tegan and Sara songs on a young lesbian’s mix CD.

The one thing I can get down with about the beach is what it does to my hair, and since most of what I worry about in life is the state of my hair², it’s a welcome perk. My hair responds well to that magical saltwater/seabreeze combo. After a day at the beach, my hair has the look of hair that’s on the head of someone who’s recently had amazingly satisfying sex. Great sex. Sexy sex. It’s all tousled and unruly yet invitingly soft. Actually, after a day at the beach, I look exactly like this:

Should I apologize for introducing you to sexy lesbian Lincoln? I don’t want to. I’m not sorry.

I’d love to be the gal that slaps on a tank top and flip-flops down to the shore, body board balancing atop tan and muscular shoulder. Unfortunately, that is not who I am. I only wear tank tops indoors, flip-flops hurt my sensitive widdle toes, I’ve never body boarded in my life and my shoulders are pale and poky, like anemic triangles or Kristen Stewart’s ears. Years ago, I would have felt like admitting all this was limiting. Today, I feel like it’s liberating. Do you hear that, world? I am not a beach person!

Oh god. I hope you still like me.

But if you don’t, I suppose I can always seek solace in the rich honeyed tones of Scottie the hottie.

¹Minus, of course, the peepin’ on bikini-clad girls. But plus the peepin’ on cardigan-clad girls, so it all evens out.

²All of my worries in life can be broken down accordingly: 62% Is my hair okay? 12% World hunger 10% Spiders 7% Is there dairy in that? 5% Do they like me? 3% U.S. red states 1% My own mortality

Profile photo of DeAnne

I care a lot about my hair. Unrelatedly, I say short, funny things at www.twitter.com/DeAnne_Smith.

DeAnne has written 21 articles for us.

84 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    First, this is just hilarious: “Half an hour in the sun and I’m more burned than Tegan and Sara songs on a young lesbian’s mix CD.”

    Second, you’re not alone. Despite being born and raised in South Florida and now living in Southern California, I feel a deep ambivalence about the beach. Sand is my deal breaker. Why you so gritty and sticky sand? why!?

  2. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    It’s okay DeAnne, I don’t think I’m a beach person either for one I bloody hate sand. If they had beaches made out of something a little cleaner-feeling (like linoleum, ceramic tiles, polished wood etc) then maybe I’d be all for it. And 7/10 times that I’ve gone to the beach I’ve gotten sick so I have come to the conclusion that I’m maybe allergic to the beach. Also, I live in the UK so “beach weather” here is like 20’c which is still jumper-weather to me, so it’s very unlikely my pasty skin will ever be viewed on British shores.

  3. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I AM ALSO NOT A BEACH PERSON FOR ALL THESE SAME REASONS

    also i am very troubled by the process of removing sand from your feet prior to slipping into footwear at the end of the beach trip

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      when I was little I would always get left behind by my family when we were leaving the beach because I spent so much time trying to get the sand off my feet before I put my shoes on. so then I would have to run after them on my still partially sandy feet, because the truth is, it’s impossible to remove all the sand.

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      YES. I actually like the beach pretty well (but Great Lakes beach, not ocean-beach, which I’ve hardly ever been at), but the foot-sand problem is just the worst. It is impossible to get it all off of there, no matter how contortedly you hop around at the foot-spraying station. Also I hate sandals, so I end up having sand in my Keds for moths.

  4. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I’m not a beach person either, not because I particularly dislike sand or burn easily, but because I get bored. It’s too hot & uncomfortable to sit reading or whatever for long, so then you have to go in the water but that’s only fun for a few minutes too. So… boring.

    My 2-year-old, however, LOVES the beach. We went yesterday and she literally rolled around in the sand until she was covered in it. So I think I’m going to have to learn to like the beach more, since my child is apparently a beach person.

  5. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    @Riese – the best way to remove sand from feet is to walk through deep soft sand. This dries the feet effectively and the friction removes the excess sand from the foot. Yes, there may still be some sand around the ankle area but I wear flip flops 365 days a year.

  6. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I’m also not a beach person, I hate the sand, the heat, the sun, I burn easily, I get bored after five minutes, I don’t like swimming in the ocean, I worry about bugs. Overall, it’s not a fun experience.

  7. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Although I whole-heartedly disagree, this:

    “Half an hour in the sun and I’m more burned than Tegan and Sara songs on a young lesbian’s mix CD.”

    is the most epic thing I’ve read in a long time.

  8. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    “Not once have I been leaning back, smoking a joint, listening to some classic Steve Miller Band and thinking, ‘Yeah, man. I relate to this shit.'”

    I relate to this shit.

  9. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I like the beach in winter. No sunburn, no salt water in eyes, no old men in bikinis,etc. the sunsets are more amazing, you appreciate the hot chips way more. Also its cuddle inducing.

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      I’m a NZer too, but when I go to the beach* I don’t really get in the water. I just do that classic, overromantised “walking languidly along the edge of the water, casually ruffling hair and looking mysterious/deep-in-thought.”
      Of course I usually end up tripping over seaweed or something because I’m too busy trying to appear mysterious.

      *am forced to go to the beach

  10. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I love the beach but I end up relating to this whenever I see the aftereffects. It’s all good to go without sunscreen for 5 hours, swimming in saltwater, and getting sand everywhere at the time, but it’s not as fun when my hair gets all straw-ish and I get to put globs of aloe on me in my sand infested bed…
    By the way, a great way to offset the sand thing somewhat is to bike to and from the beach, the wind can get everything uncovered off.

  11. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    this entire article = gpoy. i always end up with sand in THE most illogical places and weirdly shaped sunburns, and living only a few hours from the texas coast means that everyone always wants to go to the beach all the time. fuck that.

  12. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I am a beach person, but I live in the middle of Ohio and don’t know how to swim. The closest I usually get to sand and surf is listening to the Beach Boys while filing things in the windowless cave of employment. I do, however, spend all summer doing this exact thing:

    “When it’s sunny, what I do is, I take off my regular glasses, then I squint and occasionally complain.”

  13. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    PEBBLE beaches, I think they’re the answer. They have a technical name, I think. Shingle? Yeah, shingle beaches. I like them best/they are the only beaches I like. At night. With a light breeze maybe, and some stars, bonus points for any kind of campfire.

    Also, this is hilarious and I completely agree and I don’t own sunglasses either and I would take cardigans and whale music in a library over a beach, even a shingle beach, ANY DAY.

  14. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I love the beach.
    The only thing is I’m terrified of things like seaweed,crabs, fish and other things floating in the water. I cannot count the amount of times someone has chased me with seaweed and I’m like running for my life.

  15. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Great article, even though I love the beach.

    I love the feel of warm sand between my toes.

    I love walking the beach, and collecting shells and sea glass and driftwood.

    I love wading through ankle deep water, walking across sandbars and playing with starfish and hermit crabs.

    I love building sandcastles and playing beach volleyball, or skipping rocks on pebbled beaches.

    I love lying in the sun (or shade) and reading, for hours on end.

    I love the beach even though I’m a redhead with a tendancy to burn.

    I love swimming and the smell of the ocean and the sound of the waves.

    I love lazy afternoons, sitting around drinking lemonade and eating (gritty) sandwiches.

    I love sticking around to watch the sun go down.

    I love bonfires and marshmallows and campfire songs on warm summer nights.

    The only thing I DON’T like is what the beach does to my hair! Also, super crowded public beaches are a pet peeve.

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      Do you not DESPISE when you tell people you’re from California and they go “OHHH DO YOU SURF DO YOU LIVE LIKE TEN MINUTES FROM THE BEACH WHY AREN’T YOU REALLY TAN HAVE YOU EVER SEEN SHARKS BLAH BLAH BLAH IGNORANCE,” and you’re like “Yeah, our state is a centimeter wide across the whole map, NOBODY lives hours from the beach in California.”

      Unless you live close to the beach in California. In that case, disregard this whole comment.

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      Oh, yeah, I live on the North Coast, 15 minutes south of the Oregon border. While I do indeed live less than 10 minutes from the beach, it’s usually rainy if not foggy. And I live 8 hours north of San Francisco, which really confuses people because they tend to think that means I live in Seattle. Uh, no…still California. It’s a big state.

  16. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    BEST.

    I do love the beach, though probably not as much as the mountains. (Not a huge fan of sand all up in various parts of me that it doesn’t belong.) But I have to agree that one of the best perks is what it does for my hair. One week on a Florida beach and I swear my hair has never been as sexy since.

  17. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I don’t like beaches. They’re too hot and sand gets on/in my books. The only reason I go when I’m on vacation is to people watch and take inappropriate, zoomed in pictures of my girlfriend’s body that she then discovers on the camera once we’re back in the hotel room.

  18. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Yes to all of this! (Well, except the Scotty McCreery thing. I don’t even watch Idol and he’s managed to creep the hell out of me.)

    The biggest reason I hate going to the beach is that the sun is trying to kill me. Most of my ancestors were from the deep dark Black Forest region of Germany and a few were from the Scottish Highlands. Genetically, I was never intended to stand in direct sunlight. Fuck, look at me. If I take too long walking down to the end of my driveway to get the mail, I burn!

    Also, the wind and humidity at the beach turns my hair into a ratty halo of frizz.

  19. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    but you guys, how are we going to have that awesome beach party that we all were supposed to go to like that one night in my dream? we were all going to drink out of coconuts and everything. damnit…

  20. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    There’s more than one kind of beach. Beaches aren’t inherently hot. The sun is hot and the earth is tilted in such a way that some spots on earth are hotter than others.

    I live near the beach and it’s more rocky than sandy. The temp this week is in the 50s. No one is expected to go to the beach here in anything less than jeans, sweatshirt and hiking shoes.

    You don’t have to body board. If you want, you can just get a license and go dig up clams or go fishing off the pier.

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      Yes mostly I enjoy walking on the beach, sunny or foggy. On the edge of the surf so I don’t get wet past my ankles but can still feel the water and the sand.

      I just like the sound of the waves and how the ocean looks like it goes on forever.

      Beach definitely does not necessarily mean all of that silly towel/umbrella/swimsuit business, I don’t fare well with that.

      • Thumb up 0

        Please log in to vote

        I am the same! I can walk for hours by the ocean, it is beautiful and simple, not fussy like all this heat and sunscreen and bikini business. I love the beach in the rain, it is ok so long as you have a good waterproof jacket…

        I like to go swimming sometimes but more of a relaxed dip at sunset or early morning. Any activities that might result in sand getting in awkward places are most definitely not worth it.

  21. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Beachgoing tip for the anxious and moody – instead of going sunbathing, try storming along deserted beach in winter, preferably when there is a lightning storm on the horizon. It will add a Wuthering Heights-esque quality to your irrational fears, elevating you from the merely neurotic into a brooding romantic hero. Collect bonus points for your choice of: clifftops, poetry, white dresses.

  22. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I´m Icelandic. Swimming in the sea is an extreme sport here. It´s really something swimming water below zero. Under normal circumstances an average person would survive 15 minutes in that level of cold before freezing to death

  23. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I love the beach. I live in Ohio where I don’t get to go to the beach very much, but I will happily fly to get to a nice beach. I burn easily, but I just slather on the sunscreen and go. I don’t care if my hair becomes a frizzy mess, I don’t care if I get sand on my feet. Lounging on the beach with a dirty banana in my hand, life doesn’t get much better. I want to be a beach bum in another life.

  24. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I think the beach can be awesome or terrible.
    A natural, unrazed, relatively private beach or ocean cove? Awesome.
    People serving themselves like tiny, tightly packed appetizers to the sun, sucking in their stomachs? How is that fun? Beaches can be worse than terrible though. Some beaches looks like they do because dredgers sucked up sand somewhere else, destroying some habitat that was in the way, and then dumped that sand on the literal nurseries of the entire effing ocean and then destroyed all the bird habitats as they flattened some dunes for a parking lot and a gift shop and because they messed up the dunes and true coast, it makes bad erosion problems worse. Tax money dredges the coasts to give the sunbathers their beach back. People feel free from the rules of their lives, so litter gets ignored out of laziness or drunk apathy. Beaches are destroyed. Toys and inflatables contribute to the ocean’s plastics problems. The nature of beach tourism can be incredibly destructive to not only the beach, but to coastal communities as well. There’s the run of the mill stuff all vacation spots get from the extra consumerism, but the more popular places can have really bad problems. The party of summer slows down to a sad, depressive state of government assistance and alcoholism/addiction in the “extreme off season” of one season vacation economies, like Cape Cod (Provincetown is less affected because of pink dollar magic and the nature of the town, it’s the oldest art colony in the US). Tropical beach tourism has the issue of the STDs/STIs that sex tourism brings along.
    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I COULD GO ON BUT I’M DONE I HATE THE BEACH.

  25. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    One time I went to the beach barefoot and impaled my foot on a hypodermic needle that was partially hidden in the sand. Next step, my foot landed in a big pile of dogshit, and shit went into the hole made by the needle. I laid down and one cup of sand went in each of my orfices. A crowd encircled me criticized physical characteristics I am paranoid about. I was hot as fuck and wanted to swim so bad, but I can’t fully see, control, or understand the entire contents of the ocean. I personally avoid direct experiences of the natural world and hope the Atlantic is filled in to form a golf course.

  26. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I am also not a beach person !!
    Found out 2 years ago when I was at Puerto Vallarta with my back then girlfriend.

    I relate to all those things plus the salt from the ocean itches my skin, the sand gets everywhere of my body and my stuff and I don’t like to be wet in the bikini areas for more than 20 minutes after swimming.

    But I love beaches from north Europe, some places there’s no sand and the water is so cold that noone get’s in ha ha … instead of feeling that you’re on a beach you feel like you’re climbing with the huges rocks

  27. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I am extremely neurotic, moody, anxious, high-strung YOU NAME IT, but I am still a beach person! When I am in the waves, battling them and surrendering to them, I channel my nausea of existence into the dance-anger of a riot grrl, and thrash around in the water and bliss out in the sun and salt.

    I always knew Abe was a closet-case boy-thigh humper, but I never realized his lesbian potential before! What an awesome alternative lifestyle haircut he had there!

  28. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I don’t like the beach either!

    1. It’s way too hot
    2. It’s boring
    3. I like being skin cancer/sun damage free
    4. Sand and salt water make me feel so gross
    5. I’ve never enjoyed being in the sun for long periods of time – it actually makes me dizzy. Don’t understand how people can lay out.
    6. The air stinks

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.