Right around this time of year I start going into withdrawals from the beach. Maybe it’s because the weather can’t make its mind up between hot and cold or maybe because it’s dark at 6 p.m. Either way, I am in serious need of the beach.
I grew up going to Panama City, Fla. If you did not grow up going there, you probably could never understand the beauty of the city as an adult. The white sand of the gulf. Alvin’s Island on every corner. I think some of the shelves at Alvin’s Island are still stocked with the exact same merchandise from when I was a child.
No matter what beach you go to (Panama City is the best), I think all beaches hold some things in common.
Humans use beach towels and beach chairs much the same way male dogs use urine. I like to wake up early and drink my coffee on the balcony. It is during this time there is always a family representative or two that bring down some towels and chairs to claim their spot on the beach for the day.
I have never seen a shortage of beach space, even during Spring Break. But I guess these people have. And they are bound and determined to mark their spot on the beach even before the lifeguards bring out the blue mats for the wooden chairs that no one can afford to rent.
They usually have an umbrella with the college football SEC team of their choice. Georgia Tech fans would never participate in such a barbaric act, so this is about the only time of year I will root for UGA. I want them to get a better beach spot than any umbrella from Alabama.
These are probably the same people who try to reserve a whole row of seats at a high school graduation using nothing more than a couple of jackets and a purse.
All my years of going to the beach have also taught me any beach game that involves a two paddles and a ball may as well be called “hit once and chase” because that’s the only play I’ve ever seen run.
Putt-putt is always guaranteed to be a good time. Right up to the point where you pick out what color ball you’re going to be playing with. The rest of the time you're playing directly in front of the tri-county “speed putt-putt” champions and right behind the family who is letting little Johnny play each hole out until he hits it in because it's his first time ever playing.
Any Southern male over 35 is going to speak in the hotel elevator. Usually it's weather-related like "sure is hot out there today." Or maybe sports-related if you're wearing specific team gear.
I learned when we moved to Newnan several years ago to always answer “Where are y’all from?” with “We are from Newnan, Ga. It’s about 40 miles south of Atlanta. You know Alan Jackson? It’s where he is from.”
I said Southern men over 35 only because a guy from the North would probably never speak on the hotel elevator. Except maybe to tell you how the elevators back home were faster.
(Toby Nix is a local writer and deputy sheriff.)