Of Seagulls, Liquor and Lauren Hutton: A Beach Remembrance

Last week was our first-ever bona fide family vacation. We went to Destin, FL with my in-laws, my sister-in-law and her hubby, and their 6-month-old baby girl. Gordon and I had been excited for months, but of course Things One and Two didn’t know what to expect, or what hit them when we finally arrived.

I don’t know if you’ve seen her lately, but Thing Two has been sporting the vampy jackrabbit look: four teeth total — two on top and two on the bottom — just ready to take a bite out of something, like crime.

I call it her Lauren Hutton look because she has a fabulous gap between the top teeth, which also happen to be very large (like Lauren Hutton’s). I wish I could put this picture in parenthesis for your reference. I also wish I could surf that fabulous bang wave, but there are things in life we will never have.

If I could get Mae-Wheesh to sit still for any given millisecond I would show you a picture of how precisely her teeth resemble these. By the way, Mae-Wheesh is Thing Two’s new nickname. Drew has taken to calling her Wheesh for short, and that works for me too. Gordon worries for us both.

With her newfound smile accessories, Wheesh has blossomed into quite the social butterfly (read: talker). She turned ONE the day we arrived in Destin, and she squawked at her ice cream cake as if giving it orders to get in her belly.

This picture was taken before the ice cream napalm. Doesn’t she seem docile? Don’t buy it.

For the rest of the week, Wheesh addressed any thing else that moved with the same shrill exclamations, including seagulls. My-oh-my, how she loves them, which is a relief, given her newfound — and very inconvenient — hate for the ocean, waves, sand, suntan lotion, heat, tanned people, burned people, and sitting around reading David Sedaris drinking Bacardi. But a seagull?

Bhhhhh! She screams.

Yes, it’s a BIRD! I say.

She would adore birds even if they swooped down and plucked her index finger right out of her prim little nose — a hideaway for stray fingers when in the company of adults. Adults her parents especially wish to impress.

Drew, meanwhile, has been test-driving new words and phrases like a foreign exchange student. These include delicacies such as, “Would like,” as in MOMMY I WOULD YIKE TO YEAVE THE BEACH PWEASE.

Another new Drew-ism is putting Mr. in front of proper names: Mr. MOMMY, Mr. DADDY, Mr. WHEESH. He especially likes to say it after thanking you. THANK YOU FOR WIPING MY BOTTOM, MR. MOMMY. CAN WE YEAVE THE BEACH?

Yet another new catch phrase is the melancholy “One day,” as in I GO TO SCHOOL ONE DAY; ONE DAY DWEW YEAVES THE BEACH; I POOP IN THE POTTY ONE DAY, MR. MOMMY.

When I gave my grandmother a necklace for her 80th birthday the day before our trip, Drew announced: I WILL HAB DAT NECKWACE ONE DAY.

Yes, I think it’s clear it was time to get away.

Because Drew had never seen a beach in person, he became very excited when we arrived. We left the airport in our white Grand Marquis with the New York license plates. Though Gordon and I suspected we might have an Italian corpse in the trunk, Drew kept asking IS DAT THE BEACH MR. MOMMY?, pointing to the highway on ramp. Or, IS DAT THE BEACH, MR. MOMMY?, pointing to a boggy ditch. When I finally had to tell him that the sandy parking lot at Cracker Barrel was not the beach, he became reticent. Maybe we had flown him all the way out here for some elaborate potty training shock therapy.

I would like to say that Destin was paradise in every way, but there were adjustments to make. Any time you get your unusual three-year-old and a barely-one infant out of their normal day-to-day, you must steel yourself for collateral stress. Drew threw enough tantrums that I’m sure my in-laws are now convinced he is a Wiccan priest. Wheesh bellyached every time we went down to the water or got a molecule of sand on her pristine leg rolls — like she’s an exotic specimen of foie gras — which was problematic since this was technically not a ski trip. Of course, we only got down to the beach in the afternoons because it rained three out of four mornings we were there, and one entire day without stop. (That = watching Cars approximately 18 times.)

Needless to say, Drew was able to add another word to his repertoire by the end of the week: YIKKER (liquor).

But there was sweetness, too.

The last night we took pictures on the beach. Dressed in white with his pants rolled at the cuffs, Drew lost himself tossing dripping glorgy handfuls of sand into the waves.

There was something about the way his brown arms stuck out of his shockingly white shirt — ever moving, blurred appendages — and the way his hair curled up at the neck with sweat/sea water — something about his whole persona that screamed, Catch me while you can. I was seeing the ghost I will try to conjure back when he’s a scruffy 35-year-old with a mortgage. All I’ll have then is this picture.

What I have now is the boy himself — all he is and all he is not, with the vast ocean of life before him.
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1. Things of Steel: Cars, Trains, Bladders, and Resolve
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7 Comments to “Of Seagulls, Liquor and Lauren Hutton: A Beach Remembrance”
  1. Jim Rhodes says:

    Last sentence was beautiful. Poetry. Sorry about the YIKKER thing. Probably my fault.

    Granddaddy

  2. Mama Bean says:

    Oh I love the way you tell a story – so much humour wrapped in that poetic wallop of love at the end :)

  3. Julie Rhodes says:

    Although she was before my time, I think she was considered the first “supermodel.” (Maybe?)

  4. Karen says:

    Beautiful writing.

    When’s the book coming out? ;-)

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