I’m on vacation this week. But that doesn’t mean I’m not out looking for nonsense in the world because nonsense never sleeps. Or takes a vacation.
Take for example the family I observed on the beach. We were enjoying a relaxing morning, reading, people watching, and observing pelicans dive-bomb for fish. Suddenly this peaceful scene was interrupted by shouting. I turned to see what the ruckus was about and spotted a toddler running towards the water. The boy was wearing a white swimsuit with a green palm tree on the left side.
Running behind him (and gaining ground) was a man that could pass as a Calvin Kline model. He was wearing a white swimsuit with a green palm tree on the left side as well.
I had to make a split decision. Do I jump up and try to intercept the boy, saving him from the danger of the crashing waves? In a nanosecond I calculated the following factors:
- The waves weren’t really crashing.
- The dad was in way better shape than me.
- Which meant he would probably catch the boy before I could get out of my chair.
- I might spill my drink.
I chose to withhold my heroic impulses and watch the scene unfold. The man caught the boy a full 10 feet before he reached the water. He scooped him up and turned away from the ocean, the boy kicking and screaming in resistance.
Seems he wanted to play in the water. Seems mom had other plans. Remember the shouting I mentioned earlier? That wasn’t from the dad in pursuit. That was from mom. She was saying things like, “I can’t believe you couldn’t keep an eye on him for 5 minutes” and “I swear if he gets that suit dirty, you are going to pay.”
I turned back to see what harridan was spouting such venom and saw a woman in her twenties who also looked like a Calvin Klein model in a white one-piece swimsuit with a green palm tree going up the left side. She was holding a toddler smaller than the one who had made a jailbreak for the sea. This child also had a white swimsuit with a green palm tree.
Trailing behind were grandma, grandpa, and child number three, who also had a white swimsuit with a green palm tree. Grandpa and grandma were not dressed in matching swimsuits as their presence on this trip would soon be revealed as utilitarian in nature. Following them was a woman who glanced at me, made eye contact, and in an instant conveyed with her eyes, “please shoot me, I’ve made a bad career choice.”
The mom handed the smallest child to grandma and instructed her to wipe the little boy’s nose and fix his hair. Mom then inspected the free-ranging toddler who was squirming in dad’s grip and instructed the husband to not let go again until it was time to shoot the picture. Dad set the toddler down on the sand, covered the boy’s ears, and expressed his frustration with the morning’s activities with a series of expletives that caused the pelicans to suspend fishing operations and join me for the show.
I asked one if he had seen this type of thing before and he nodded as if to say, “happens at least once a week.”
Turning back to the show, the grandparents and the personal assistant arranged the family in the perfect pose. Hair was adjusted on the wife’s shoulder and sand was brushed off the toddlers’ knees, all of whom had kneeled in the sand to do what toddlers do at the beach.
When everyone was perfect and in place, the assistant began taking pictures with a phone. For a brief moment, all was perfect. Then chaos ensued. The oldest toddler made another run for the sea. The dad’s cell phone rang and he answered while in pursuit. The pelicans laughed.
Mom demanded to see the photos the assistant had captured. Grandma and Grandpa tried to corral the other two toddlers as they began to play in the sand. Toddler number one, sensing his father was closing in, made it to the edge of the water and dove headfirst into the waves, just out of his father’s reach. Since the water was only deep enough to get wet and ruin the perfect look, the father let him play and splash around.
Mom was not amused. She felt that the pictures didn’t quite catch the vibe she was going for and now they would all have to change swimsuits for more pictures, and it was dad’s fault. Dad half-listened and continued with his phone call which enraged mom even further. Finally, the assistant convinced the mom that with the right filter, one of the shots was indeed Instagram-worthy.
Mom left dad and the splashing toddler on the beach grabbed the other toddlers and marched back towards wherever they had come. Grandma and grandpa dutifully followed. The personal assistant trailed behind. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that Instagram, Facebook, etc. were down. Her life was miserable enough.
The world would have to wait a few hours to marvel at the perfect life this Instagram influencer has, as evidenced by her perfect picture with her perfect family in their perfectly matched swimsuits. Meanwhile, the pelican said to me just before returning to his morning fishing excursion, “you humans are pretty weird.”
Carry on, Citizens!