2007-09-07 / Columnists

The Progressive

Life Is A Day At The Beach
Commentary By John Paul Culotta

I love the beach. My family detests the beach. Ajellyfish once stung Andrea, my daughter. Louisa, who is also known as "she who must be obeyed," or my wife, hates the beach. She is fearful of the rays of the sun. All the problems of cleaning beach towels and swimsuits, the irritation and annoyance of sand, and beach traffic make her long for a sightseeing vacation or a stay in the mountains. For the past few years, we have avoided the beach. Despite their distaste, we sometimes take long walks near the sea. Walks along the seaside usually put me in a good mood. I feel more invigorated. We need to realize constitutionals are beneficial to the body and soul. Europeans often take nightly strolls in their cities and resort areas. Americans should also get out of their cars and walk. New York City is a great city for walkers. The streets are full of activity. But, I digress!

As a child, my parents and siblings would spend an inexpensive day at the beach. I went one summer to Cefalu, Sicily, my mother's place of birth. It was a seashore town. Some of my fondest memories are of those days at the beach, both in New York City and Sicily. I remember the sounds, the smells, my first erotic feelings, and the noises of others on the beach. As a teenager, some of the more popular B-movies were of the California beach scene. We all listened to the Beach Boys. I thought Southern California must be paradiseyou could go to the beach all year long. Of course as a young adult, I spent vacations on the Costa dol Sol, the Caribbean, Myrtle Beach, and days on the New Jersey shore. I truly miss the beach. For the past few years, our vacations have been in Canada, the Catskills, and Lake Placid.

What is my fascination with the beach? Some beach lovers love the solitude of a desolate beach. Some prefer clothing-optional beaches. They enjoy the feeling of freedom that type of beach gives. My infrequent experiences with a clothing-optional beach like the one at Sandy Hook, New Jersey at first were ones of trepidation. I thought the people who frequent such a beach must be perverted or dangerous. As I became used to the scene, I realized most of the nudists behaved in similar ways as other beach goers. I witnessed no sexual activity. Of course, any sexual activity of any preference should not be allowed at the clothing optional beach. Afriend invited me and I took the challenge. I removed my outer clothing and I was not attacked, mocked, or made to feel dirty.

If you have any misgivings or pride of your own body, you will probably lose it when you see others' assets and flaws when naked. Parents should be extra vigilant when choosing a clothingoptional recreation facility. Sexual predators, though, frequent other recreational areas including beaches that enforce the wearing of swimming suits. Accommodations for those who desire clothing-optional or same sex beaches for those who object to male and females mixing for religious or cultural reasons can also be made by a tolerant society. Women and men may prefer same sex beaches for sexual reasons or preference, as well as those who do not want sex mixing for religious reasons or male cultural dominance. Many of those who opposed homosexual activity desire same sex facilities! What irony! Italy has a beach for women who do not wish to be bothered with men attempting to woo their affections when they spend a day at the beach.

Many feel more in touch with nature and their own sense of divinity when nude. There may be a level of sexuality on that type of beach, but it is really not a place of perversion. All beach experiences are charged with erotic thoughts. Our puritan heritage makes nudity seem unnatural and unhealthy.

No one is forced to go to clothing-optional beaches and no one should ban that type of experience for those who wish that type of experience. If properly run clothing-optional beaches are available and warnings are given, no harm will come to children and families wanting the traditional day at the beach. Clothing-optional beaches and same sex bathing beaches and pools should be allowed in New York State.

My real fascination with the beach and the beach I truly enjoy is the crowded public beach. Watching people must be a hobby of mine. I see all the many types of human behavior on display and it is always fascinating. Some come prepared as if on a military mission. Others come with barely a swimsuit and a pair of sandals. Many put sunscreen on frequently.

Sun worshippers bake their skin without any protection. People way past their prime often still are proud of their bodies and their bearing makes them attractive. Many young people, especially the female of the species, although beautiful or handsome feel their bodies are faulty.

Child rearing practices are on display. Overprotective parents and the more free-wheeling types display their anxiety or lack of concern in public view.

Teenagers try to attract each other. Many weary of life and its' preoccupations seek an hour of sleep. What is most interesting is how some people value their space on the sand, while others are willing to be more communal and sharing. Some come with mountains of food and refreshments. I often see people who allow children from other families to play with their children and the sharing of food with others makes them happy. Other people want no contact with others.

Strangers often become friends.

Conversations with strangers are commonplace. Drama, love stories, scandals, and comedy are before your eyes during your day at the beach. Immigrants enjoy an inexpensive day and enjoy games and food products from their land. Sometimes people shun any contact with other ethnic groups and intolerance displays itself. Fights often break out over trivial matters.

This is why I love the beach; life, whether pleasant, raw, or ugly is on display. Restrictions should only be made for public safety and not for esthetics. Intolerance is never acceptable in civilized society. Acceptable social behavior does not end when we go to the beach. We should not allow it to ruin a day at the beach.

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