On August 1, 2011 by Eden M. Kennedy

Of all the sand that exists in the world, half of it is in my house. One sixth of all the sand in the world is at the beach; one third is in the various deserts you can see from space; and the rest is in drifts in my laundry room. Really, it’s more of a laundry closet-cubicle, or a pantry. It’s a laundry mysterious catacomb, and someday, just before I’m dead, when I’ve finally achieved my lifelong goal of developing an interest in sweeping behind the hot water heater, I’ll discover the missing mummy of Zoser tangled up in used dryer sheets, snacking on uncooked farfalle.

All this sand is because Jackson has discovered the beach. He is ten years old, he has spent his whole life within two miles of the ocean, but he has never been interested in the beach. He was one of those babies who hated the way the sand stuck to his feet, and I was fine with that, I was happy to strap him on the back of my bike and take him out for ice cream instead. So Jack blames me for Jackson’s beach ambivalence and he is absolutely right to do so. I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the beach. The beach is a giant strip of finely ground dirt. It’s hard to walk there, it’s incredibly loud, and I’ve always thought Charles Bukowski was right: it isn’t beautiful. I didn’t move to California to play volleyball, despite what you may have heard. (Fun fact: I came for the earthquakes.) No, give me a wireless connection and some knitting needles and I’ll stay out of your hair indefinitely.

I know that people around the world save up for years, they dream about coming to California to warm their vitamin D-deficient bodies and to bury their toes in the sand and to ogle whoever it is that they’re genetically programmed to ogle, and I respect that. So what’s my problem? Sure, you could boil it down to skin cancer and sharks, but don’t assume that I’m ungrateful for the privilege of living here. I pay for it every day. But, you know: skin cancer. Sharks.

Some families from Jackson’s school got together and decided to meet once a week at the beach during summer vacation, and since my work schedule is flexible Jackson and I decided to go join the gang one afternoon. I strapped on a bikini and tucked Nora Ephron into my bag and three hours later Jackson’s head was full of salt water and he couldn’t believe how much fun he’d had.

We bought him a wet suit. We sent him to beach camp. He came back with freckles on his nose and seaweed in his shorts.

And now I have tan lines all over my body and sand all over my house.

Last week we took Peewee to the beach with us for a couple of hours to see how he’d do.

He didn’t like it at first.

Then he started coming around.

Then he was all, What’s up, ladies?

The problem was that we’d brought Peewee’s collapsible water dish and filled it up with bottled water, but a bunch of sand got in it, so for every ounce of water he drank he ingested half a pound of sand. Which he would then spend the next twelve hours barfing all over Jackson’s bed, and Jackson’s floor, and all over the clothes on Jackson’s floor.

Me, having no idea the amount of dog-barf-soaked laundry I was about to do.

That guy out there with the boogie board, holding a little kid on his hip? Ten minutes after I took this photo I was lying there with my eyes closed and he staggered up and was all, “Isn’t it weird when they get between your legs?” And I was all, Do I need to open my eyes and see if this guy is saying oddly suggestive things to me? Because I would rather not. But of course I opened my eyes to confirm that he was indeed addressing me about the betweens of my legs, and I said, “Excuse me?” And he was all, “The stingrays! Man, it’s freaky when you’re in the water and then they’re all [wiggles hands] flapping their wings against your legs!”

Oh, God. Sting rays, seaweed. Dog barf. Freckles. Oddly suggestive dudes! I had no idea what I’d been missing all these years.



33 Responses to “Beached”

  • I woke up in a horrible mood, so thanks for the triptych of Pee Wee– hilarious.

    PS Sorry about the barf.

  • Hilarious! I feel exactly the same way about the beach. Lakes, mountains, rivers, are all excellent. But you pegged it… beaches are just giant strips of finely ground dirt, generally with too darn many people!

  • Oh God I feel you on the laundry/sand mountains. Long Island offers up pinchy crabs and that’s enough excitement for me, I can’t imagine the horror of the stingray between the leg phenomen. Shudder.

  • I am one of those people that save up all year so I can frolic with the sharks, sting rays and sand. This year we needed a new roof and we had to forego the yearly trip to the ocean. Thanks for helping me feel a little less deprived, and the picture of Peewee under the towel was priceless.

  • Well, I adore a beach. But the dog vomit? One of the things I detest about front-loading washing machines is how ineffectual they are at vomit-removal (dog or human), especially when terrycloth is involved. In the battle of vomit vs. modern technology, the technology curls up into a fetal position and plays dead. Vomit is that formidable. I can’t even imagine how my washer would fail to deal with vomit full of sand.
    My God. My heart goes out to you.

  • Oh, I love the beach so, that I was able to read your whole post in a sort of “hmm, barf, sand, hmm, lalala BEACH” sort of way. In my mind, the beach kicks the lake’s rear end (not that it needs to be a contest) and I would be there every minute if it were practicable. So I applaud Jackson for his salt water intake and good sense, while at the same time you do have my sympathy, because: dog barf laundry. + sand. Plus I actually don’t seem to have the technology/skill/know-how to remove sand from the heads/hair of my children so now they are all gritty from 2 weeks ago and will probably remain so forever.

  • Yes, thank you for all your sympathy. It’s tough having to leave the house and confront the miracle of nature.

  • I live 1.5 blocks from the beach in SoCal, I have lived here for 4.25 years, and guess how many times I have walked down on the sand…

    Less than 10, mostly to photo the things the ocean has barfed up during winter storms.

    In that 4.25 years, guess how many times I have put on a bathing suit and either gone in the ocean or laid down to sun?


    Yep, you read it right: zero times

    SoCal is wasted on me. I really should move to Seattle, London, Helsinki, or Kamchatka.


  • For those of you from other states who are currently horrified at me, when you live in LA and a friend calls up and says, “Hey, a 1 bedroom has come up in my family’s building and it is $850. Do you want it?” You say yes, as studios in the ghetto cost more. The rent has gone up since but it is still a very very good price for an apartment in SoCal.

    The air is good and when it is very hot in the rest of LA it is only kind of hot here. I still would like to move to Seattle, London, or Helsinki.

    I was joking about Kamchatka, as I don’t speak or read Russian.

  • I think Peewee needs to invest in a surfboard. Don’t bulldogs love to skateboard? It’s pretty much the same thing, right? Except for the whole bulldogs-can’t-swim thing?

    • Yes, exactly, they tend to sink. Our joke is that what Peewee really needs is bumblebee wings, little stubby things that look like they can barely hold him up but that send him knocking around the house like a sixty-pound june bug.

  • Does Jack shave his legs? Smooooooth.

  • Sharks? Sharks!!!?!!! That’s the World’s Safest Beach^(tm)! There are no sharks. However I have it on authority that the dolphins there are creepy-ass pervs. So it evens out.

    Here in beautiful uptown Goleta we have tar blobs all over the sand, so the inevitable signal of a beachy summer is sticky black splats everywhere: car, board, suit, doormat, carpet, dog … Vomit, though, has not yet been a problem. Sorry about that.

  • I’m sorry, I just kept thinking about that scene in Raising Arizona where the old guy is talking about when he was a poor kid and they “ate sand”. “You ate sand?”; “we ate sand.”

  • Tai makes sand castles the next day, if you catch my drift. And the tar? Oh god. The first time Tai got covered in it I sat down and wept. Very hard to remove from fur-covered paws. I love the beach here, but the New England ones are better.

    • Baby oil, right? That’s what everybody tells me to use on tar covered feet.

      • Olive oil works wonders removing tar. And it tastes good, too! (The EVOO, not the tar.) (Which I’ve never tasted.)

        • Two words: oily dog. But it does work … so can’t complain. And for some reason it’s only happened once in the 5 years we’ve lived here. I just use a pumice stone to get it off my own feet. Gave up the oil thing awhile ago.

  • Also, gotta say, best bulldog butt picture EVAR.

  • Can Pee Wee come for a playdate? I have a very fat, sensuous, slatternly cat named Marilyn Monroe who’d give him a run for his photogenic adorableness. I find her splay-legged pretty much everywhere just asking for some possom to knock her up.

  • I moved to San Francisco in the 90s. BEACH?! I thought. No: Fjord icewater was more like it. Friends took me down the coast: BEACH?! I thought. No. Fog. Further down the coast?: BEACH?! No. Rocks.
    I moved to Los Angeles in the 2000s. BEACH?! I thought. No. Bacteria and wall to wall bodies eating disgusting smelling things and holding pooing babies. I’m going back to Lake Michigan. Ptheugh.

    Only beach-related attractive thought at this point (besides possibility of mummified remains in my own laundryroom): Peewee. (and tragically impossible longing that at some point in my life I might have a stomach like Eden’s.) Thank you.

    • Want a flattish stomach? Photograph it while you’re lying down. Magic.

  • I’m visiting my mom in Maine this week, and the beaches are chilly, foggy, and completely empty! Too cold to swim, but very peaceful. Going to Berkeley next week… my friends told me to stay away from the beaches there because they would be too crazy.

  • I’m in coastal Socal too and looooooove the beach, sand and all. My kids went through a period where they were all, “We have to go to the beach AGAIN?” and I was all, “Look here, inlanders, do you want me to send you to live with your aunt in Kentucky? There are children in India hungering . . . for a chance to go to the beach.” Thankfully, my persuasive logic turned them around (or they’ve just resigned themselves to this life for a while).

  • The beach sucks. Period. I hate swimming, heat, wearing bathing suits, seeing other people in their bathing suits, sun tans, sun burns, sunscreen and sand.

  • This is my favorite blog yet, but it sadly lacks a full body shot of you in a bikini. I LOVE the beach and I have a station wagon and a boogie board, so take me with you please. I won’t stop pestering you til you do.

  • Lol.. Peewee is just the cutest.