July 2012 home page

Rich Simons | 11th Street

Photo illustration Virginia Lawrence

Every month, Rich Simons answers readers’ most perplexing questions.

Q: Now that the May Grey and June Gloom have fled, do you have any tips for beach goers? – r.n.

Of course! Let’s review a few rules from my popular monograph “Beach Strategies and Etiquette”:

  • No. 1) Planning Ahead: Of course you will want to make reservations well in advance. Just call “California Department of Parks and Recreation” and follow the simple telephone tree that will lead you through “beaches”, “Southern California”, and “Del Mar”. If you have a little accent or speech impediment, choose the touch tone option. If you are successful you will be put on hold (“all our operators are serving other customers”) and then you will be treated to some really bad music. At this point it is time to get the family involved, setting up a watch list (hour on, three off?) to listen to the bad music. After about two days of this you may consider that you have “paid your dues” and you may head for the beach with a clear conscience.
  • No. 2) Parking at the Beach: In a word – fuhgetaboutit. Call a cab. It can drop you off about 50 feet from the sand.
  • No. 3) Finding a Spot: Please disabuse yourself of the notion that you are going to schlep all your gear (the grille, the cooler, the umbrellas, etc.) up and down the beach seeking nirvana. Instead, you will want to deploy an advance scout equipped with GPS and a cell phone. The savvy scout will seek a spot large enough for your entourage but not so large that someone will be able to squeeze in between you and your new neighbors.
Cartoon John Dempsey
  • No. 4) Getting into the Water: (I don’t know why we are talking about this. I thought our subject was the beach. But oh well . . .)
    First of all, you will want to back into the water. That way you won’t have to look at the giant wave that is about to pound you into the sand. Also it gives you an opportunity to do what savvy surfers do: get a fix on where you went in. There are things called “longshore currents” that will quickly transport you to Solana Beach or La Jolla, so it’s important to know where you started.
    To do this, you might note when looking inland that the ugly chartreuse beach cottage on the left lines up with the dead palm tree in the background, and to the right there flies a flag from a country you don’t recognize. Of course if you have chosen wisely, when you look directly ashore what you will see is a lifeguard tower.
    If, on the other hand, you see some old railroad trestles or some drainage pipes or something that looks like a dome on a Hindu temple, you are probably in a place where you hadn’t oughta be.
  • No. 5) Going Home: By now you have had ample time to chat up your neighbors, get their life stories and exchange photos of children/grandchildren, so of course you know where they are from. If they are from “out of town,” when you leave you will want to be sure to shake out your blankets UPWIND of them. Maybe they’ll never come back.
    To return to your house, call a cab. Just be aware that there will be a cleaning surcharge to deal with all that sand.
Photo panarama Art Olson


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