Sunday, March 11, 2012

Beach Bodies


This time of year, it starts. Everywhere I look I see fitness threats: start working out or you’ll never have the “beach body” you need come Memorial Day. It always makes me giggle.

First of all, my birthday is at the very end of May, so it falls close to—or, now and then, ON—Memorial Day. When I was younger this often meant a kick-off-the-summer gathering of some sort, with cake. I was really just a good excuse for everyone to hit the beach and get in the mood for the season.

Second, I live in Green Harbor and we have a gorgeous beach. Though parking in the area is town-sticker-only and very limited, there is a business that will sell you a space for the day, and almost everyone in New England has at least one relative somewhere with a driveway. Residents who don’t live on the beach itself walk. In bathing-suits. If they are kind, with a cover-up of some sort.

I know what actual beach bodies look like. They look absolutely NOTHING like the ads. Trust me. And you know what? I love them. I love every freckled, lumpy, wrinkly, pimply, sun-burnt, oiled, sunscreened, mole-speckled, suspiciously-melanoma-scary square inch of them. I love the old ones the best, but the young ones, too. I love the weenie nuggets in diaper-bottomed onesies. I love Grampa Rico Suave’s speedo. I love Meemaw Mildred’s skirted tent.

They come waddling down Beach or Bay, flip-flops in danger of blowing a thong, wonky hats perched, noses smeared white, guts and cellulite wiggling like a Thanksgiving jello-mold released into the wild. They swim, roast, sweat, gossip, and gripe about the kids. (The kids, btw, are not always in better shape, and a rockin’-hot Hollywood style bod is rare among them, too. People are people. They eat.) The best long-distance swimmers on that beach walk or bike, and can out-swim everyone under the age of 65 by double digits. They are in great shape—it’s just not a shape celebrated on magazine covers. Grampa Rico could make a sammich out of that pin-up girl draped across Vogue, do a lap across the Green Harbor River from Jetty to Bluefish Cove, and still walk the mile home without a limp.

“Beach bodies” aren’t air brushed. They have scars, standing out in white or shocking pink against the summer-baked-brown. They’ve fought wars and borne children. They’ve been baptized in fire, tempered in time, and stopped giving a wildly-flying crap about you and your standards of beauty some time after their 40th wedding anniversary and/or fifth grandchild.

ass When the sun begins to fade, and the younger folk have tossed that football long enough, they will waddle right back up Beach or Bay. Thighs caked with sand, shoulders one (or two) shades browner, a well-earned day of rest behind them, they don’t give a damn what anyone thinks… which is why they will pause outside your screened-in porch to yank that spandex out of a crack itchy with the lovely golden powder of Green Harbor Beach.

Eat your heart out, whipper-snappers… THAT is a beach body!

(You’re welcome.)

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