A Good Chuckle

A Good Chuckle

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Night On The Boardwalk - A Week At The Beach Series

A trip to the beach is never complete without a night on the boardwalk. In our family, it is just about every night that we are on vacation. A long day on vacation typically involves roasting in the sun on the beach and in the water, then a disorganized retreat back to the house for a shower and dinner before we head out to the boardwalk.

Walking along the boards after sunset is a unique experience, even as compared to the very same boardwalk during the day. Though you can't see them, you can hear the ocean heave its waves onto the shore not far off in the night. The smell of salt water surfs the cool ocean breeze to your nostrils. Store fronts are all lit up and many different types of music can be heard as you pass by one store to the next. There is a lot of sensory stimulation for the kids - a wonderland of lights, music, and excitement.

As a parent, some of the pleasure in a night on the boardwalk is derived from the humorous observations one can make - the kind of humor that is totally lost on the kids. Seeing other parents with misery written all over their entire demeanor dragging screaming children away from an arcade. Or catching a glimpse of the exasperated adults who are trying desperately to negotiate the five dollar ice cream cones into their children's mouths and failing horribly, ice cream decorating unexpecting attire. And these are just the normal observations. If you are especially vigilant you can find some really absurd shit to laugh at.

So we're on the boardwalk, my girlfriend and I and all three of our kids (my youngest tucked into a stroller). "Hey, lets get some fries," I suggest. A day in the water always sets me up for a seek-and-destroy-the-junk-food appetite in the evening.

My kids get all giddy and start hopping up and down, "Oooh! French fries! French fries!"

We veer out of the naturally formed lane of pedestrian/stroller traffic and situate into the unnaturally long line for french fries. I squint my eyes, working them to the absolute brink of their functionality to see the menu from our position in line, approximately eight clicks off from the service counter. "Can you see the prices for anything?"

My girlfriend gets out her binoculars, "Not really. But they have crab fries!"

"Oh, nice!"

My daughter starts up immediately. "Ahhh! Crabs!" She sticks her arms up and clicks her fingers together as some mock pinchers with a pained look of unreasonable fear on her face. Not a day has gone by on this vacation without someone saying the word "crab" and my daughter losing her shit over it entirely.

A few days later we get to the service counter to place our order. "Hello, we'll take one bucket of french fries and two buckets of crab fries please."

The Eastern European teenager behind the counter smiles and nods at me, "Is that all?"

I affirm that it is and he sets out on his way to get my buckets of overpriced potatoes. Taking a deep breath, I smile at my kids who are standing in line patiently waiting for their fries.

As a parent of three, anytime I have all of my kids out in public I feel a heightened sense of awareness. If you have kids, then you know what I mean. You see everything all at once, everywhere. The years of telling your children that you have eyes in the back of your head actually becomes reality at some point and it is no more apparent to you than when you have your whole family out in a crowded public area. Sometimes I can see things BEFORE they happen.

And then there are some things that you could never have seen coming if you had all of your life to think on it.

A shriek of terror immediately attracts the attention of my entire clan as we grow old in line. A woman of girth whose existence looks to have originated before the second world war miscalculates a step and begins a slow, painful fall to the wooden planks we are all standing on. The sun rose and set again by the time she reached the end of her fall and we all stood there, slack-jawed, in complete shock and yet still suspicious of what just transpired. I was waiting for Ashton Kutcher to appear from behind a trash can laughing at us.

When she eventually hit the ground, two things happened simultaneously: she dropped a bag that spilled fancy looking sea shells out on the boardwalk in front of my family and I and she unleashed flatulence at such a degree as may never have been executed before. If I could extract the memory of this sound from my mind, I would loop it on repeat every Halloween - a sound that seemed to have been the spawn of such auditory delicacies as when you try to extract your foot from mud and a zipper.

After testing the boardwalk to ensure structural integrity, I cautiously walked over to help her up and make sure she is okay. A couple of other people did as well (after recovering from the immediate shock of the travesty we all just were witnesses to). My kids see that I am helping this lady to her feet and they want to help her as well, so they start picking up all of her sea shells and putting them back in the bag from which they spilled.

My daughter is holding onto a sea shell she finds particularly beautiful. "Daddy, look at this shell! Isn't it pretty?"

The victim (or aggressor?) of the catastrophic fall/fart combination looks over at my daughter and says, "That is called a 'Hermit Crab' dear."

And at that very moment, the crab came out of his shell, sticking his weird extremities out onto my daughter's hand.


We'll be taking those fries "to-go". 

In The Woods Entertainment
Got Fiction? Got Funny? Got Blog? Send all submissions to ManagerInTheWoods@gmail.com for publishing consideration.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sand Castle - A Week At The Beach Series

"Whoa, awesome sand castle Dad!" Said none of my kids ever. My knowledge and skill with building sand castles begins and ends with the ingredients - sand, water, a shovel, and buckets. I am Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor in the sand castle world. 

There are some people who show up at the beach with a backpack of sand castle crafting goodies and deliver awe-inspiring results - castles as great as any of the mightiest kingdoms throughout history. I, on the other hand, show up with dollar store buckets, two plastic shovels, a buzz and a dream. 

"Why do we even need a moat Daddy? I think that may be a little much," my oldest daughter says to me as she finishes up what will soon be the northeast corner of the castle. Building a sand castle is always her idea. If it were up to my son, the activity would resemble what he is presently doing - running towards the ocean, calling it names ("The Ocean's a Dopey! The Ocean's a Dopey!"), and running away from the waves as they attempt to restore honor to the ocean whose great name was just sullied on it's very own shore!

"Well Sweety, we have to defend ourselves from the barbarians somehow," I reply, "and I am not sure if we can make any catapults with the resources we have available to us right now!" 

"Will the moat protect us from crabs?" Her concern, though based on a ludicrous fear of crabs, is much more realistic than my concept of defending against barbarians. Or is it?

"It sure will. Unless they are barbarian crabs," I reply and we both laugh.

Taking a look at our work, I am impressed! Now that my daughter is 5 years old, she has turned my years of disaster into a how-to-not-do-it and overcome the genetic disposition to fail at sand castles. What she has expertly crafted is no less than one of the brilliant creations I spoke of earlier. A castle fit for a princess with a moat to protect her city.

"Can we raise an army Daddy? With knights and wizards? And I can be the princess!" Joy escapes her through giggles and a smile brighter than the sun we are baking in.

Unable to restrain my laughter, I am filled with that special pride you get as a parent when you see something in your child that you know, without a doubt, is your own fault (sorry I am such a dork Honey). I continue, "We sure can! Can you find anybody you would want to be in your army? Maybe some of your cousins?"

She begins to survey the beach. All sorts of body sizes, shapes, and colors are performing various beach activities all around us and I am very curious how she will choose her conscriptions. 

This momentary pause in conversation is interupted by the utmost pandemonium; my son the barbarian charges the castle, sunlight as war paint on his face, and he kicks right through it, screaming.

Caught totally off guard by the attack I had no time to protect my eyes and thus ended up temporarily blinded by castle debris. I reach out for where a towel should be and find one, wipe my face off and squint through the pain. My daughter, much to my astonishment, is NOT crying. She is, however, glaring at me unsympathetic to my plight.

"Your moat didn't work Daddy."

I guess next year we'll build a catapult. 

In The Woods Entertainment
Twitter @Matt_InTheWoods

Got Fiction? Got Funny? Got Blog? Send all submissions to ManagerInTheWoods@gmail.com for publishing consideration.