When Life's Not So Beachy

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As with so many things in life, a summer day spent by the water often looks more appealing in the movies than it turns out in reality. From Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster's passionate embrace as they roll amid the surf in From Here to Eternity to young Dustin Hoffman's lazy lounging on a pool float in his parents' backyard in The Graduate, the beaches and pools depicted on film always seem so much less crowded than the ones we actually visit. Not surprisingly, therefore, many of us have gripes when it comes to the behavior of the hordes on the blankets and chairs next to us.

In a just-released survey by TripAdvisor, respondents claimed that the three-biggest beach or pool annoyances include (in descending order): playing music too loud; urinating in the water; and chair-hogging. Other sure-fire ways to get sunbathers all steamed up, says the study, include wearing too-skimpy bathing attire; smoking; changing a baby out in the open; and neglecting to rinse off before getting in the pool. The survey also points a finger at those who spread their blankets too close to another party.

The latter is one of my biggest beachside gripes. If you happen to be entering a completely packed beach, you likely don't have much choice. But when there is plenty of sandy real estate to be had, it's the height of rudness for late arrivers to plonk down mere feet from another party--particularly when they choose a spot directly between the first group and the waterline. A few other pet peeves (which didn't make the study):

•Boogie boarders who barrel toward bathers with abandon.

•Beach paddleball players who hit stray shot after stray shot, nearly missing the heads of nearby patrons.

•Destructive types who take joy in stomping all over unattended sand castles.

•Swimmers who disregard lifeguard instructions.

•Lifeguards who get carried away with their whistles.

•Show-offs who do cannonballs into the pool with the goal of soaking everyone within a fifteen-foot radius.

•Pool patrons who talk loudly and incessantly. (Particularly--though not exclusively--on a cell phone).

•Sun-cautious sorts who fail to properly anchor their umbrellas--leaving them prone to becoming projectiles hurtling down the beach.

•Litterbugs who don't carry out what they carried in. (That includes piling trash high above a bin that is already full.)

•And last but not least....Kids who refuse to tote the toys they used all day back to the car, leaving their parents to juggle chairs, coolers, blankets and more.

Maybe Richard Branson, the Virgin Atlantic founder who bought his own island, has the right idea. But for those of us not in his income bracket, let's all show one another some respect this summer....don't put your convenience ahead of all-important consideration for others.

Now then...surf's up...what are you waiting for?