A day at the beach

Stop the Presses column by Chris Graham


“When can we go back in the river?” my niece Hannah asked me.

Or maybe it was her twin sister, Rachel.

It was one of them.

Anyway, we weren’t anywhere near a river at the time the question was posed.

Instead, we were at the beach – the wife and I had driven the twins and their older sister, Kayla, down to Virginia Beach for a day in the sand and saltwater.

It was quite the learning experience for all involved.

“Are we there yet?” was the other main query of the day – first appearing out of the thin air just east of Charlottesville, for those keeping score at home.

Then there was the incident involving the Thing That Kayla Was Convinced Was Trying To Bite Her Feet.

“It was probably just a seashell,” I tried to explain to her, going over how the undertow can create a bit of a sucking sensation that could certainly feel like something biting your feet.

“Oh, no. It was definitely a crab. Seashells don’t pinch,” she insisted, detailing her plans to stay out of the water for a while, probably around the year 2015 or so.

Speaking of things that pinch, we all turned into lobsters in short order – this despite the 60-SPF waterproof sunscreen that we picked up at the store the night before.

“Chris, your head is turning red,” Hannah said to me in a singsong.

Er, maybe it was Rachel.

I think it was Hannah, though.

Mainly because Rachel was more worried about the sand that got caught in her shorts to make fun of anybody else.

“Can I just put on my underwear and swim in the river?” she asked at one point before the missus got her to change in a nearby bathroom and went to work on the shorts with a pair of scissors.

I tried to emphasize how it wasn’t a river that we were swimming at, but an ocean – “You know what’s on the other side of that river? Africa. That would have to be one big river,” I said at one point.

I think that one finally got through. As did the point about the importance of applying and reapplying sunblock.

(My scalp got burned – through my hair. So yeah, you could say that the sun was mighty powerful that day.)

The other lesson learned …

“Everybody at the beach has tattoos,” one of the twins pointed out.

And no amount of time in the river, er, um, the ocean, could wash that fact away, either.

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