Beach Blanket Bingo

Updated: Mar 8, 2020


Photo by Guzman Barquin for Unsplash


I stopped going into the ocean a few years ago when, on a supposedly calm day, I got rolled by a wave and my shoulder ached for a month. I can’t understand why people insist on frolicking in a place that is (a) not a habitable environment for humans, and (b) constantly spitting us back out. Not to mention the sharks. Do you know where else I don’t spend my free time? Space or tiger-strewn jungles.

My predilection for surroundings with air and without predators limits my activities when my family goes to Georgica beach. I’m left with reading, napping or people watching. I guess I could play Pro Kadima, the paddle game, but I’m an amateur not a professional. I’ve never seen Am Kadima at any beach shop. I should look online.

For the past two years, I’ve brought the book To Show and To Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction, by Philip Lopate, to the beach. I’m on page 72. This is my way of both showing and telling you that I don’t like to read on the beach.

When Mr. Hockey (a.k.a. my husband) gets to the beach, he plunks down into his chair, reclines it and immediately falls asleep. The hockey pucks (a.k.a. our kids) and I pretend not to know him when the snoring starts. Mr. Hockey has no qualms about snoring in public. I do have qualms. I drool when I sleep, and no one needs to see my spittle. No beach napping for me.

Therefore, my favorite (because it’s my only) beach activity is people watching. I make a game out of it; beach blanket bingo, if you will. Although it’s really more of a scavenger hunt since I haven’t bothered to make bingo cards. However, I do own a laminator, so I could make waterproof cards. I might be on to something here….

This column might be the origin of my new game, Tracy’s Beach Blanket Bingo™! Obviously, the free spot on Tracy’s Beach Blanket Bingo™ card would be the sights we always see the beach: airplane advertising, children building sandcastles, or a middle-aged woman getting rolled by a wave and vowing never to enter the sea again.

In the other squares I would include a child crying because a seagull ate his Cheetos, a child crying because her brother took the good shovel, and a child crying because his mom yelled at him for not sharing the good shovel. There is only one good shovel per family – even if the mom had the foresight to buy two identical shovels. Only one of those shovels can be the good one. It’s a beach law.

Another square would have a tremendously tan elderly couple. They have been hard-core bronzing since the seventies. These days they summer in the Hamptons and winter on the surface of the sun.

To counter that, a different square would have to include golf-tan dad. His forearms, neck and shins are tan. But his thighs, feet and chest are white. This is Mr. Hockey’s look, if that look is reclined on a beach chair, snoring.

I should also add a square for multi-colored mom. This is a mom who’s different bathing suit tan lines have made her fifty shades of brown, pink and white, on top of which she sports a floral tankini. She is more colorful than the Tommy Bahama beach chair she bought at Costco. This is my look, if that look includes sitting with a writing book in her lap, gawking and snooping at everyone.

Some squares should have beach sports like volleyball, Spike Ball or Frisbee. There would have to be one square with kids tossing a football for a full two minutes before quitting. Or a couple who get to only seven hits in Pro Kadima. They are prime candidates for Am Kadima. If only they could find it in stores. They should look online.

One of Tracy’s BBB™ squares would have to include a family in a living room-sized tent with all the beach-friendly comforts of home: tables, coolers, and a collapsible couch. It wouldn’t surprise me if some people had a sink in their tents. Hamptons beach-goers are the most likely to bring everything and the kitchen sink to the beach.

What about a square for that kid who refuses to carry anything back to the car? Every family has one. It’s a beach law.

I could devote a whole column of my BBB ™ cards to umbrellas. People who don’t know how to put them up. People who do put them up, but then abandon their prime beach location for the entire day, blocking everyone else’s access to the water. Where do they go? Have they been eaten by sharks? Or are they in their friend’s tent, washing their hands?

One square will include umbrellas that have not been secured properly and tumble towards a canoodling couple. Humans may have no natural predators at the beach, but one swift breeze and a tottering umbrella could take out the whole tent family and their friends.

Hmm. This idea has legs. I think I’ll dust off my laminator.

Tracy’s Beach Blanket Bingo ™: the revolutionary beach game for inactive people, will be coming soon to a beach shop near you. Look for it in the aisle near the Am Kadima and beach sinks. Or maybe you should look online.

East Hampton Press, August 7, 2019

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