We drove to a nice little beach in a small town. The Confederate flag we saw just outside the town threw us off, and so did the sight of a woman jumping out of her car with a shotgun. It seemed she was chasing after some form of vermin. It was one of those “Where the hell are we?” moments. So be it. We were there for a swim, not to make friends. The beach offers an interesting snapshot of American society. At this particular beach, overweight kids trudged around and waded through the water. Out of shape parents redirected their children and begged them to behave. One skinny woman chain-smoked on her blanket while listening to Van Halen. I sure do love Van Halen. An ice cream truck stopped by with an assortment of $1.50 treats. I selected the Star Bar and devoured it. Tina (my girlfriend) and I talked about having kids someday. Every time a kid did something stupid, we said we should wait. Every time a kid did something cute, we smiled and said we should hurry. “I’m not getting younger,” I like to say, “And parenting is a young man’s game.” We discussed the size of our house and our tiny yard and wondered if what we had was suitable for children. We talked about the reality of not having much and not expecting to have much more anytime soon. And we wondered if that mattered when it comes to having kids. “Babies just need a lot of love,” Tina likes to say, “They don’t care about possessions.” Amen. We held hands and walked into the water, chatted with some old folks, and were entranced by the goofy teenagers that surrounded us. A group of boys jumped off the dock wearing shorts instead of bathing suits. All of them had underwear hanging out of their shorts, no doubt their fashion norm. None of them seemed to like the water very much. None of them were skilled at swimming. All of them were awkward and worked overtime to strike a cool pose. Teenagers like to impress each other. Actually, I think everyone likes to impress each other. The Star Bar didn’t satisfy my hunger. I’m always hungry, but this time I was starving. Tina and I decided to drive back home to our favorite restaurant. Payday was still a few days away, but we had enough cash to grab a good dinner and some beers. I salivated at the thought of ice cold beers. When we arrived we raced to the door, and were crushed to see that it was closed. “SORRY WE’RE CLOSED. ON VACATION.” One of life’s many disappointments. We hit the drive thru at McDonald’s, powered down cheeseburgers and fries in the car, and went to bed as soon as we got home. We talked about our hopes and dreams until we fell asleep. It was the most perfect day I’d had in a long time. The End.
Author's note: This short story is a work of fiction. I consider it a sociological short story.