Every year, The Lovely Becky, the TLB family, and I head to the sunny, deep-fried beaches of Sunset Beach, North Carolina. Located just above its secession-loving sister state and 40 minutes north of Myrtle Beach (aka Branson with sand), Sunset is the anti-Myrtle—relaxing, non-commercial, and free of strip clubs (okay, so it’s not all win-win).
We’ve been going to SB for a few years. TLB’s parents rent a beach house and we freeload (now that’s a win-win). We spend the week lounging on the beach, reading, drinking, grilling, and boogie boarding. This year, we had the added pleasure of The Gs, TLB’s funny, friendly, and very Canadian relatives.
One fine afternoon, as we sat under our tent, a family of four set up camp in front of us: Dad, a big former-football-player-cum-Shoney’s-buffet-jock; two kids; and Mommy Boobiest, who filled the top of her teeni-weeni white bikini. She looked to be in her thirties, but if you only looked at her mid-chest, you’d probably card her for alcohol.
Nancy G, the Canadian mom, and Bill, her husband, engaged in a heated but friendly debate. I leaned over and said, “What are you guys talking about?”
Nancy nodded her head toward Mommy Boobiest. “Do you think those are real or fake?”
I gave MB my best peripheral-vision gaze. “Fake.”
“No way,” Bill said. “Those are real.”
Chad and Tim G, their 20-something sons, sided with Bill. Kelly, TLB’s sister, jumped into the fake camp. We were split 3-3.
“Why do you think those are fake, Nancy?” Bill asked.
“They don’t move when she moves.”
Bill nodded to Nancy and smiled. “But yours don’t move either. Are they fake, eh?”
Nancy shot him a wicked grin. “What do you think, Billy, that I paid for these? Yeah, I went to the ninety-nine cent special at Wal-Mart.”
“We need TLB,” I said. “She’s never wrong about fake boobs.” This is no exaggeration. My wife knows how to write a great novel, bake the best cookies in the universe, and spot a pair of fakes faster than an art insurance appraiser.
No sooner had I mentioned her name, TLB appeared at the tent. I explained the situation and the current voting. Like the Vice President in a deadlocked Senate, she weighed in.
“Those are real,” TLB said. “She's got a halter top bikini holding them in place. That’s why they’re not moving.”
Nancy and Kelly continued to grumble about silicone this and flotation devices that. “Look,” TLB said, “Just because you want them to be fake doesn’t mean they are fake.” Spotting another woman walking down the beach with what appeared to be plunger tops stuck to her chest, TLB found her control group. “Those are fake.”
With the Real or Fake? game decided, I needed a new way to amuse myself. Now, even if you removed the Confederate Flag beach towels and Krispy-Kreme fueled waistlines, Sunset Beach will never be confused with the North Shore. The waves rarely top more than a few feet, and this year especially, the sea was flatter than a pre-op breast augmentation patient. Bodyboarding appeared pointless.
Instead, I grabbed Chad's skimboard, a small, thin, wooden board that you use to skim the tide near the beach. I saw teenage boys using them all week: taking a running start, throwing the board in front of them, and jumping on. They slid along the water’s edge, doing turns, twists, and maybe hopping an incoming wave or two.
The first couple of experiments did not go well for me. I was tentative and my timing was off, leading to some one-footed, groin-stretching failures. “These damn things are defective,” I said.
Tim G, who is younger and much lighter than I am, took the board. After two failed tries, he got both feet on and glided a bit. A few more tries and he was sliding along the beach. I had my Brave Sir Robin moment: “That’s easy!”
I grabbed the board, took off running, threw the board down, and jumped on with both feet. For 1.5 seconds, I was alive! At second 1.6, I almost became paralyzed. I flew, I fell, I flailed. I went knee-first into the wet sand, which is surprisingly hard, especially when all of your weight comes crashing down on your left kneecap. Luckily, like a Reuters photographer, Nancy was where the action was. I dub this:
Portrait of the Blogger as a Dumb Ass
I lay in the surf for a few moments, my knee bloodied, my pride wounded, and my sense of mortality more alive than ever. I had attempted a Youth Augmentation, to turn back the clock and seem younger and more vibrant to onlookers. Instead, the result looked ridiculous, cartoonish, and downright ugly.
I noticed a ringing in my ears—the Clue Phone. I picked it up and heard the message: if you’re 20 years older and 20 stone heavier than the kids gliding along on these Paralysis Planks, just walk away while you still can. Because most of the time, you're not going to fool anybody into thinking you're 18 again.