Jerry Della Femina
A WALK ON THE (YUCK) BEACH
Updated: Jul 21, 2018
I don’t live on the ocean anymore and I really miss the ocean view.
But not living on the beach removes one of life’s great pressures – the beach walk.
Let me spell out my feeling about a walk on the beach … any beach in the world … even a topless beach: O-V-E-R-R-A-T-E-D.
Since I’m too lazy to write a new column this week after the long holiday weekend, here’s an update of a column I first wrote in 2003 about how much I hate walking on the beach.
Even with my history of walking on the beach under protest, I have developed an incredibly accurate picture of those people who beach walk.
If they walk alone, fast, with their fists up on their chest, staring straight ahead like zombies, they mistakenly believe that this is exercise and they are walking away from death. But get this – they’re walking in soft sand with a 102-degree sun beating down unmercifully on their heads, their hearts are beating so fast that they are threatening to pop out of their mouths, and they’re sweating like Donald Trump trying to explain why putting a 2-year-old child of illegal immigrants in a cage, separated from his or her parents, is not his fault.
Another thing I can’t understand about beach walkers is why they’re so damn friendly. They’re always smiling! People who have lived in the same apartment building in Manhattan for 25 years and haven’t so much as nodded at their next-door neighbors even once walk on the beach with these goofy smiles on their faces saying, “Hi! How are you? Great day, isn’t it?” to perfect strangers upon whom they will never set eyes again.
It’s like they think we’re all part of this big, happy, stupid family walking on the beach. Everyone looks real silly because there is not one single part of the beach that is level, so everybody has at least one foot sunk in the sand and is puffing and limping and looking like contestants in the handicapped midget portion of the Special Olympics. (Is that last sentence politically incorrect enough for you?)
Don’t you find it amazing that no one in history ever took a walk on the beach and kept it a secret?
People think walking on soft sand is some sort of badge of honor. The first thing they say to anyone who will listen when they come back is, “I just took the nicest walk on the beach.”
At night when they go to a dinner party, Ethel will start the conversation with, “When Charles and I were walking on the beach today, he said …”
Or Charles will say, “There we were, taking a nice walk on the beach, when Ethel accidentally stepped on and crushed a piping plover. What a mess, getting the plover guts cleaned out from between Ethel’s chubby toes. But it was so, so pleasurable to take that walk.”
If it’s so pleasurable, why don’t they keep it to themselves? Sex is a million times more pleasurable than a friggin’ walk on the friggin’ beach, but you don’t find Ethel starting a sentence at a cocktail party with the words, “When Charles and I were having a quickie this afternoon, he said … “
Couples walk on the beach, each with a different idea in mind. She’s talking about a new avocado dressing that she wants to try at lunch. He’s mentally undressing his new assistant Velma.
Guys rarely talk to each other when they walk on the beach. They stare at women and try to suck in their stomachs and imagine that their tans make them look like Greek gods. Women, on the other hand, love to walk on the beach with each other. They walk in twos and one talks and the other listens.
I imagine that the conversation is about the men in their lives. I imagine there has never been a beach walk in the history of beach walking where both women were happy with their love lives.
What you get is one woman who has just broken up or is contemplating breaking up with her boyfriend or husband and is miserable. She is the one walking closest to the beach side. The other one, walking on the ocean side, is talking to her, listening and steering her to keep her from walking out over her head into the ocean and ending it all.
It is a sad commentary on life that by the next beach walk, the woman who is miserable one week will have met Mr. Right, and the woman who was happy the week before will be pouring out her troubles.
There was only one time in my life when a walk on the beach is a pleasant memory. Those were the days when I prowled the beach at Coney Island. I was 16 years old with long blond hair and a killer pompadour — a Greek god. I would walk from Bay 10, which was the “Italian” beach, for about two miles to Bay 4, which was the “Jewish” beach.
I walked because the word was, “The Jewish girls are easy.” On my way, I hardly noticed all the 16-year-old Jewish boys walking past me to Bay 10. Why? Because they had heard, “The Italian girls are easy.”
We were both wrong. No one was easy. I’ve hated beach walks ever since.