Like most Americans who live near a large body of water edged by some sort of beach. Mrs. P and I spent the long July Fourth weekend at the location that fits that description nearest our home. In this case, we chose Atlantic City — the one-time jewel of the Jersey shore, now showing more tarnish than shine in the aftermath of four shuttered casinos in the past year. My wife's casino activity has dwindled to non-existent over the past year, but I think that it is pure coincidence and she is not to be blamed for those closures. Nevertheless, we found ourselves with a weekend starting on a Friday and 72 hours of free time ahead of us.
I don't know if I ever mentioned it before, but I hate the beach. I hate everything about the beach. First off, I dislike the misnomer of "beach." Face it. It's dirt. That's right. D-I-R-T — Dirt! And don't even talk to me about the (shudder!) ocean. I marvel every time I see someone gingerly wade into that fucking cesspool. And those that cheerfully splash around in that giant piss puddle with their kids! Yeesh! They should be brought up on charges of child abuse. But, I love my wife. And my wife loves the beach. So, I put my disgust for the beach aside for a few hours and sit beside her. Happily. Well, as much "happily" as I can muster.
On Friday, at a time when I am normally at work, Mrs. P and I made our way across the Atlantic City beach, laden with folding chairs, a couple of towels and some snacks and drinks. The Mrs. had plans to soak up some early summer rays. I had plans to cover my thinning pate and stick it out time-wise for as long as she could.
We found a suitable spot and set up our temporary camp. Mrs. P leaned back and began her sunning process. I draped a large towel over my head and tried to pretend I was anywhere else but on a beach. I closed my eyes. With the murmur of a gentle wind and low whisper of the nearby surf, I began to doze. Hey! Whaddaya know! I was actually relaxed and — dare I say — enjoying this time on the beach. I drifted off in to a deeper sleep.
Suddenly, I was jarred awake by something akin to broken fingernails dragging the length of a blackboard. I shot up and fumbled for my glasses that I had folded and hooked in the neckline of my T-shirt.
At first, I looked around for the source of the disturbance. It was shrill and grating. "Ooooh!," it wailed, "The Grateful Dead are playing this weekend in... in... somewhere!" Ugh! That voice! It squealed in an annoying raspy creak. I raised the towel up and my eyes adjusted to the sunlight. The voice continued, "I saw The Grateful Dead at Veterans Stadium the day before they tore it down."
About twenty feet away, a woman in a tie-dye beach cover-up was addressing a group of people spread out in their own beach campsite. Her unkempt hair blew about her in all directions as she related her story in a loud tone, too loud for the close proximity of her chosen audience. Her voice was at a volume more suited to clearing the area because of a fire or an impending air raid. As a matter of fact, her voice had the same tonal quality as an air raid siren.
Well, now I was awake! And mad. Mad because I was unnecessarily awakened, especially when I was just getting used to fact that I had spent more than five consecutive minutes on a beach. And mad because I hate when people dispense wrong information. I don't mean a mistake for which they will soon correct themselves, I mean flat out wrong information that they insist to be right and proclaim as gospel. Let's start with the fact that The Grateful Dead never played Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium. They did, however, play, what turned out to be the final show at Philadelphia's JFK Stadium, "The Vet's" neighbor. Six days after Jerry Garcia and his bandmates played JFK in 1989, the crumbling, sixty-six year old venue was condemned by the city. It was demolished three years later. Veterans Stadium, home of the Philadelphia Phillies and Eagles for thirty-three years, was imploded in 2004, twelve years after JFK Stadium bit the proverbial dust. While Veterans Stadium was host to numerous concerts, The Grateful Dead did not number among them. But the inflection in this shrew's voice told otherwise, especially when she drove her point home with a smug sneer and a defiant folding of her arms across her tie-dye swathed chest.
Plus, she delivered the misinformation in that voice!
I hate the beach after all.