Don’t Look Like an Old Man at the Beach
I’m almost 41. There, I said it. Almost 41. In age terms my children think they understand, I am old; the world was in black and white when I was a kid, evidently I met Jesus -literally, and the 80’s were a hundred years ago. So yeah, old. But I do, pretty actively try not to look it.
I shave my head, because my rich, pubic thatch of hair would look abhorrently ridiculous done in gray overtones… even more so than it looks just being hair. I have tattoos (though that’s pretty meaningless all in all since you can’t see them under short sleeves), and I rock cool Horror Movie T-Shirts my wife really, really hates. See what I mean? I try not to look old. But I am and I know it and nowhere is this more apparent than at the beach.
I take my kids to our local beach pretty regularly because it’s summer and we live in Michigan and that means humid like a Swedish Sauna. They are kids and they are just barely beginning to understand the subtle nuances of Tween and Teen fashions so they don’t care what they wear as long as it isn’t a Speedo or a bikini. But when I go I have to actively work at not embarrassing either myself, my kids, or the entire beach-going community as a whole. You see, I’m a bigger white guy with extra lumps and bits that tend to escape if not properly contained. So me in something other than knee-length board shorts and a muscle shirt is as far out of the question as you can possibly get.
Which brings me to my first point. Please wear age/size/style appropriate garb to the beach lest you look like a mound of soft-serve ice cream covered in a kilt. Old people should not, ever, wear tight things. Period. No tight shorts, no tight tops, no nothing that looks like it might have fit a dwarf properly ten years ago. Trust me, I know better, I know my limits, and the only things I like tight are beer bottle caps.
As one caveat, if you are an older, in shape person who spends his or her time doing thrusts and iron pumping, feel free to tighten up. The rest of us will be wearing mumus and table cloths. In addition, though fashion is vastly subjective, I highly suggest you stay away from anything that draws more wide-eyed attention to yourself than necessary. Solid colors are good, cool shorts, a nice wide-brimmed sombrero… but please, no more spillage from biker gear (you know who you are and what I mean), and socks with sandals is not a good look for you. Or anyone, really. But especially you. By which I mean me.
In fact, I’m going to make that item numero dos on this list: Socks with Sandals. Sure, there is a small minority of far more awesome people than you or I who can, kinda, pull that look off without too much ridicule. We, however, are not in that group. So please, do all of us old folks a solid and quit perpetuating the stereotype. It makes you look like some kind of goofy bird lost in a jungle of vastly different, and way cooler birds. Especially when it’s tube sucks yanked up past your knees. That is a disaster beyond any normal disaster.
Now as luck would have it, I have just returned from a day at the beach with the kids and I have to tell you, it’s almost as though it knew I was coming. I saw an absolute plethora of the very things I’ve been talking about, including several people in one family who look like they just chewed gaping holes in whatever mobile home they improbably escaped from. They had kids, I know that for a fact and I would have known that had I been blindfolded as well because all they did was scream at them not to do anything while they sat idly by, cratering their beach blankets, and chucking food into their hungry maws.
I saw an old man who looked exactly like those 1940’s posters with the weight lifters holding those round dumbbells over their heads possibly performing at a circus. He was easily in his 70’s and had a pair of trunks on that might have been borrowed from a 20-year old. I even saw a bevy of women with their same-age infants clucking away about their awful husbands (yeah, it wasn’t hard to listen in) and smoking cigarette after cigarette because health! And yes, all of these sights were eclipsed by a crusty old codger wandering around solemnly talking to himself. Yay, beach!
So the point here is: go to the beach, have a blast! In fact, bring several people with you and do a damn rain dance if you’re so inclined. Just, for the love of all that’s good and Holy, don’t make yourself look like an elderly idiot in the process. Either wear socks and shoes, or just sandals. It’s not rocket science people. Do not wear fashions from the 80’s- including the 1880’s, and please, please mind the sizes you are attempting to wear because I assure you no one is going to the beach looking to see human sausages or bloated Hobbits. Assess the landscape and determine at that time if your appearance is going to frighten little children. God knows mine typically does.