Yes, we have become THAT middle-aged couple who go to the beach, fully prepared, military-style, for Hurricane Patricia or a tsunami at the very least.
Obviously this image bears absolutely no resemblance to us on the beach.
Because when you’re middle-aged, anxiety makes damned sure that you’re super-prepared for any eventuality. It’s not like when you were young, free and impulsive and just threw on any old bikini, grabbed any towel and spent the whole day oblivious to potential skin melanomas, what sand does when it gets in your vagina or under your foreskin and dehydration.
The old man and I have become professional middle-aged beach goers.
We know exactly where to get our sneaky parking spot, we only go to the north end of the beach where the rocks are so dangerous we know there won’t be any young families, and we arm ourselves with every conceivable means of sun protection.
Which, I know, kind of begs the question why we actually go to the beach at all?
He ALWAYS carries the beach bag and beach chairs; I ALWAYS carry the beach brolly and lunch. Obviously, I can’t trust him with our sandwiches until we get onto the beach.
We even take our own home-made sandwiches, fresh fruit and water these days – to save money. Because we’re THAT middle-aged and seriously classy all at the same time.
Those days when we took bottles of cold beer and chips seem like a lifetime ago now.
Once we arrive on the beach we have our routine of setting up our ‘spot’, which takes place with military precision, each knowing what the other’s responsibilities are. Out come the his n’hers beach chairs with matching towels, the brolly is erected and sun screen applied – which takes a bit longer these days due to our increased surface areas – then we sit on aforementioned beach chairs, (until they start hurting our backs), people-watch and wonder what the fuck to do with ourselves.
‘I bet you eat your sandwich within ten minutes of getting to the beach,’ I had joked with the old man on the way this morning. Because we have interesting conversations like that in the car.
‘What am I doing for the first ten minutes, then,’ he joshed back.
Today was an all-time record when he began to talk about his sandwich within one minute of our bums sinking indelicately into our beach chairs, and within five he had opened the foil like an over-excited school boy and promptly dispensed the contents that I had so lovingly chosen for him straight onto the sand.
Shouldn’t have moaned about the pesto, I thought, as those always-hungry, scary white beach birds began to surround us to scavenge.
All oxygen in our two square metres of sand was extricated immediately from the atmosphere as I watched the old man fight internally his need to have a full-blown, middle-aged, man-trum, while even the annoying, scary white birds stood back with a ‘Whoa’ and watched on in embarrassment.
But luckily, it was just my fault again…apparently due to my poor ‘sandwich packing’ skills.
Lunch over, and the disappointment of that very fact settling in, we searched the beach for something to entertain us now that the old man had eaten and my fair skin was beginning to turn a redder shade of burnt, in spite of the immense diameter of my wide-brimmed hat which shaded all the families within a 10m radius of our ‘spot.’ From the old man’s perspective, I imagine that all visible boobs had been duly noted and scored, and from mine, I had picked out all male torsos worth perving on behind dark glasses later in the day, while the old man took his afternoon nap.
But luckily we still had our walk to look forward to, with a warm up just getting our asses back out of our sunken beach chairs. We’ve become rather sucked into the 10,000 steps a day philosophy for fitness, recently – apparently it’s called ‘incidental’ fitness, but I can assure you there’s nothing fucking ‘incidental’ about walking ten kilometres.
But we were yet to experience another tinge of disappointment upon our return when the Apple fitness device informed us that by the end of our walk a mere 4000 steps had been used up, in spite of dragging our feet through thick, hot sand the full length of the beach and back like lost Bedouins.
Nothing that a nice few glasses of cold wine won’t put right this evening, though.
What it does mean, however, is that today’s loser will have to run up the four flights of stairs to the apartment (several times) rather than take the lift, just to equalise.
I ignored the unsubtle teasing of the old man in the car as he kept reminding me that ‘there can only be one winner, Lou.’
These little competitions keep us together and mentally astute.
The sport of beach napping is the reward for enduring the middle-aged beach visit. However, there are certain rules about letting it all hang out while unconscious in a public place: you must lie on your front so that the beach towel can perform its duty of soaking up nap dribble and muffin top sweat, which has a nasty habit of trickling the length of all tummy folds and forming puddles beneath you.
But once in the right position, (ie.a position that you can raise yourself up from afterwards without the need of a younger, helping hand, all the while remaining as attractive as you can, prostrate on the unevenness of sand mounds), beach napping is a task that us middle-aged couples find particularly exhilarating and are very adept at.
And it makes all the torture associated with sand and sun management just about bearable.