Pick a Holiday, Any Holiday
written by John:
Your comments about this column are welcome ~ e-mail John at
Although I was suffering from a cold, my wife and I had made plans to visit one of our favorite beaches on Memorial Day, 2011. We expected the parks to be jammed with people including many overnight campers because it was a long holiday weekend. Still, we didn't rush around, hurrying to get out into the throng. We took our time getting everything ready. Homemade potato salad and coleslaw had been prepared the day before. We had pickles and chips for snacks, sourdough and wheat bread, mayo, mustard, ham, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. Desert was easy: ice cold Bing cherries, Pacific Rose apples, macaroons and strawberry jellies. Yummy! Add some sodas, a couple of non-alcoholic beers and we were good to go.
The ice was in the cooler and our folding chairs and table were already in the Blazer along with the beach umbrella if we needed it. We were on the road before noon, heading for our destination, Kahana Bay, a mere 20 minutes away.
It seems to be my good fortune to find a parking place when I need one and today was no exception. We pulled into the parking area and there was only one vacant space available. Someone had probably just left, because there it was waiting for me, right up front. From our vantage point we could see a perfect area to set up camp. We got out and made our way across the open green lawn in the shade of the ironwood trees that surround the beach park. These trees enjoy salt air but stop at the edge of the sand, where we picked a spot that offered a good view of the water and the mountains that protect both sides of the bay. We try to position ourselves in this general area because on holidays past we have sat here watching hand-gliders who come to ride the warm air currents that rise up the nearby steep cliff sides.
A catamaran moored in the bay, jet skiers raced to the outside reefs and back, fast little runabouts, and the occasional tour helicopter buzzing by overhead.
We set our chairs and table under a small cluster of trees that would provide just enough shade to keep us cool and protect us from the hot summer sun. There were groups of people to our left and right, close, but not so close as to hear their conversations or invade their privacy with ours. I went back and forth a couple of times to unload and deliver the rest of our stuff and there we were, perfect peace, perfect weather, perfect day.
Even though my cold wouldn't allow me to jump in the ocean, we spent a couple of idyllic hours sitting there, just listening to the surf mingled with the occasional gleeful shouts of children playing, their voices wafting toward us via the cooling breezes off the water. We made sandwiches, ate and drank and all was good with the world.
We were enjoying ourselves so much so we hadn't touched the books or magazines we brought along to read. We spent time sharing stories and reminiscing about memorial days of the past.
I think for most of us, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer and each year after I got out of high school, before I joined the army, my friends and I would bury a five gallon jug in the sand at one of our favorite beach hangouts. We would fill that jug with rum, gin, vodka, tequila, every kind of hard liquor imaginable, mixed in with Hawaiian punch and pineapple juice. Killer punch. We would run tubes out of the jug just like you see on a hookah and then drink from the tubes. People would sit, have a few sips and not be able to stand up and walk away. I guess that was the idea, so that eventually we would all pass out somewhere near the jug. We would get crazed but we didn't put our antics in other peoples faces. We stayed far enough away from everyone so that we would not attract attention.
I had just finished sharing my tale when I could feel them moving in on us.
Up to now, the day had been lovely and we were really happy to be there. And then, suddenly, we weren't.
A few children sprinted by us and a flow of obscenities pursued closely after them. Next, came their parents, a group of young adults (25 to 30 years old) and the remainder of their offspring. They started to put their things down, staking out their turf next to us. If the place had been packed, I would have understood their close proximity, but the park was practically empty in the area where we were. Sure, we were near the immediate path to the water, but these people weren't going to trouble themselves with having to take extra steps.
Now, when I say next to us I mean right next to us. You may have been in that crowded restaurant where the person sitting near, next to, or behind you bangs your chair with his because of such close quarters. That's how close one of the trashbags was when he opened his chair and sat down next to me. I call them trashbags because five minutes hadn't gone buy and I already heard the F-word come out of one of the tattooed ladies (tattooed women, my favorite) mouth that many times and more. Not one sentence without a curse in it. And the tattoos? Is that what makes them equal?
A long time ago I thought tattoos had meaning. If you were tough, it came with the territory. In warrior class societies they are the emblem of rites of passage and signify status. On Popeye, they are a sign of strength, and on women? My son and his friends call them tramp stamps.
They turned on their radio, loud. Meanwhile, they put a table near us and brought out the computer. We were already packing when one of them exclaimed to another, "Hey you gotta see this f...ing video on you-tube!"
It is at this juncture I must ask, why do these types go to the beach? Why don't they just sit in their cars and watch T.V.? There must be a set in there.
Maybe there were more of them doing just that.
By the time I had our car reloaded, they were already moving their things onto our little area. Whether they did it on purpose or not, I felt like they planned it that way. There were so many of them they probably thought they deserved to be in our place more than we did. Besides, we were only two people, an older couple who couldn't put up much resistance to their numbers.
We had already agreed that we would stop at another park, to look out at the sea once more before we went home, but I am still troubled by the disruption those people caused on our otherwise glorious holiday.
Every generation muses at the lack of civility and courtesy of the next generation but it still needs to be said; the concept of thinking about your relationship with other people in public places. It can never be emphasized too much. The mother screaming obscenities at her children in the market, the young man with sounds coming out of his car that rattle the windows in your house as he drives by, people playing catch and with every wild throw, the ball gets closer and closer to you but they won't move elsewhere, the people sitting together in a group but none of them talking with each other because they are on their phones talking to somebody else, somewhere else, are just a few examples of people behaving badly, who feel the universe circles around them. It is a sad set of circumstances.
I've had it with the mutants. How have these rude, arrogant, callous, unskilled, uneducated, non-thinkers living among us made it this far? They have no social skills and it is doubtful they will glean any from the other doorknobs they associate with.
Don't think I'm talking like this because I'm an older man. I say this because I was taught how to behave around people, to recognize a sense of place, and act old enough to know better when I was a young boy. Many children today already don't know their place and they will never know any better because they are being raised by morons like the ones we experienced today.
I can take consolation in the fact that these people who are only concerned with themselves, who want to do their own thing, along with all the others who are just like them, who take such great pride in their non-conformity, make it far easier for me to spot them than them me, and I will stay as far away from them as possible.
Looks don't intimidate me and I don't suffer fools gladly. Now that I know the rules of engagement, next time I will get up and out a little earlier, and stake a claim that is either unapproachable, or where the reception is bad.
founded 2004 by ron cruger
A place for intelligent writers
A place for intelligent readers