Then there is the Texas beach, which can be, from time to time,
completely unpredictable. Which is exactly why nobody thought
anything of it when I squinted through the windshield at the water
and asked, "Is it black?"
Jessica didn't slap my arm playfully and laugh, as if I were making
some weird joke. Sam didn't twirl a finger by the side of his head
as if his dad had finally lost his marbles. Neither of them said or
did anything. They both knew it was entirely possible that, yes,
the water was black.
We gathered our towels and walked toward the water. No, this time
it wasn't black. The play of clouds and sun only made it appear
that way from a distance.
Today, the water was a deep sienna color and freckled with red
specks, as if God opened a huge can of cayenne pepper and poured it
into the Texas Gulf. (Which, when you think of it, makes sense,
given the roux-brown color of the water; what with the shrimp and
oysters, it's less an ocean than a gumbo.) It was probably red
I harbor a bit of the same antipathy for beaches that Fields
claimed for kids. He said: "I like children, if they're properly
cooked." And, "Children should neither be seen nor heard from -
I harbor this feeling toward beaches because I am not what you
would call a "beach person." A beach person, as I understand it, is
someone who enjoys the beach, who really likes swimming in the
ocean and/or getting a tan. I don't much care about doing either.
To me, ocean swimming means you swallow more salt than the annual
USDA recommended consumption, and getting a tan means blistering
your skin under a fierce sun for hours, an activity I would think
would be condemned as inhumane by Amnesty International if it were
applied to prisoners of war.