Before I get started I will let you all know that if you’re expecting a rant about the wonderfulness that is “The Beach”, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, you can turn around and find another webpage because I would be talking for hours. In this case I’m talking about my time at the beach as a red headed, pale, Irishman who almost turns to ash once the sun shines upon him.
My family, despite our Irish ancestry, has a rich history of going to the beach. It all started when we joined Sun and Surf, a beach club that resided in Atlantic Beach on Long Island, where we would spend most summer days during my childhood. In my younger years I was a very popular and famous toddler, due to my pale skin complexion and bright red hair. I was a hit, everyone knew me and it all went to my head and my family has had to deal with that egotistical, always trying to be the center of attention, attitude I’ve had since the age of two.
Once I started to talk and develop a personality, no one wanted anything to do with me. The king had lost his crown and the amount of prestige and respect I was given was quickly dwindling and by the time the age of 10 rolled around, no one gave a fuck who I was. Demands at the snack counter were met with disdain and “if you don’t pay for that we will call your parents.”
It was a disappointing time for me. A point in my life where self-reflection should have taken place. A point that I didn’t take seriously, therefore I didn’t adjust.
Being an Irish family at the beach club was absolutely insane. I think my parents should’ve bought stock in whatever brand of sunscreen would turn into an umbrella and completely cover our skin. Preparation time to go out into the sun would take about three hours of work only to be washed off the second we entered the water, then another three hours to replace what was just stripped from our skin. The worst part was in the two or three minutes without sunscreen we would get sunburned and if we stood in front of anything red we would be lost.
I don’t think you understand how pale I am though. I am so pale that when I take my shirt off people gather around and use me as one of those tinfoil reflector sheets that people use to go blind. I used to blend in with the sand and many times people would just run into me and then think they got attacked by a ghost.
That’s right, a BEACH GHOST!
Near the end of my family’s run at Sun and Surf I started to develop friendships with kids my age. We would stay up all night playing manhunt or, as they called it, let’s hide from the red head so we don’t have to hang out with him. It was a weird and lengthy title, but I always found them and then I was “it” again.
Anyway, there was one time when I was probably around 12 or 13 or whatever age boys start to notice that they have sexual urges, my friends apparently reached that stage way before me. At night they would disappear and I wouldn’t be able to find them’ which was typical, but I knew the layout of the beach club so it was strange I couldn’t find them.
Finally one night they must’ve taken pity on me and invited me to their secret hiding place. This is the place they would go to for privacy when they were making out with girls.
Now, I’m not the most attractive guy in the world and I’m fine with that. At the age of 12 I was even less attractive what with my red hair – which I was told would “make the ladies go crazy” – my fat stomach and my man boobs. To say girls didn’t pay much attention to me would be an understatement, unless we were talking about bras. I guess they thought I could relate.
So I go with my friends to “make out place” – I just made that name up – and I take a seat and notice that the number of guys to girls is a little lop-sided – five girls to six guys. Everyone but me had their designated make out partner and I had to sit there and watch. It was a little awkward to say the least, but it got a little more awkward. Not only was I invited to hang out for these festivities and clearly have no one there to make out with but I was asked to put a towel over my head so I couldn’t see what was happening. So I sat there for, hmmm, about 45 minutes while horny pre-teens exchanged gum in a very intimate way and had to find things to do like hum popular songs or think about who would win the tag team championship at SummerSlam. But the weirdest part was not only did I agree to sit there with a towel over my head after being told what was going to happen, but that I decided to STAY despite the fact that I didn’t have to.
I’m a very, very, very loyal friend.