Jul 27, 2014 4:11 PM GMT
NYT: IT is summer, and so, the beach exerts a different kind of gravitational pull. Sixty-one percent of Americans don’t live anywhere near a beach. We spend a surprising amount of time hearing about this place we will hardly ever see. We watch commercials, TV shows and movies in which nubile young women and their strapping male counterparts frolic on sand, their hair golden and sun-streaked. Long walks on the beach are the supposed holy grail of a romantic evening. The beach becomes a kind of utopia — the place where all our dreams come true.
Some people have no particular fondness for them. Do you like sand in your crevices? Do you enjoy all that sunshine and heat without the benefit of climate control? Do you enjoy other people at the beach — sticky children, young people with firm bodies and scanty bathing suits, those of less firm body staring forlornly at this spectacle. People bring pets, and some are not an animal person.
Do you like bathing suits? They are not flattering for many body types because a beach body is a very specific, slender, toned and tan body. Do you like the water? Do you like beach seating, which is uncomfortable, particularly when you’re tall. Do you like reading at the beach, which is an ordeal — trying to find a comfortable position, keeping sand out of the book and sun out of my eyes, managing the pages if there is a strong breeze? Soon enough, my sunglasses start sliding down my face.
It will never be what we want it to be, and yet we cannot help but hold on to this vision of summer, of the beach, of contentment. Despite our better judgment, we all are also vulnerable to this fantasy, to so much trembling want. It is an unattainable idyll that we never quite reach, but somehow, it remains enough.