Pretty much every family vacation we ever took was to some sort of beach, whether it was Lake Tahoe, Newport Beach, or almost any beach (you name it) between Northern Viginia and Florida. (Virginia Beach, check. Myrtle Beach, check. Cocoa Beach, check. Even Nassau and Waikiki, check).
I was kind of shocked to learn that Jon has hardly ever been to any beaches in his life. I forced him to go and find me seashells the last time he was in Florida, and that was his second ever trip to a sandy ocean-beach. He even sent me a picture of him standing in the water. There was also an option on his phone to include the sound of waves crashing. It almost sounded believable, too, until they tried to throw in a couple of electronic seagull sounds. He did bring me back some shells, though, so mission accomplished.
Anyway, our family firmly believed in vacations, and those vacations were always to some form of beach. With three girls, someone (me) was bound to get left out, so when we lived in Virginia, my parents let me take along my friend, Christine, on these trips to the coast. That way I had someone to play with and I wouldn’t spend as much time screaming at my sisters.
Okay. So we’re in North Carolina, and I’ve just barely polished off yet another bowl of Team Cheerios (does ANYONE remember Team Cheerios? They were amazing. Three or four different kinds of Cheerios in one box. I ate so many boxes of that stuff that particular trip that my mouth was bleeding, not even kidding), when The General announces it’s “TIME TO GO TO THE BEACH, everyone get your derbis, we’re out the door”.
Let me interject here. “Derbis” may very well be my dad’s favorite word in the whole world. It came from some foreign Army captain he had early on in his military career. This guy kept yelling at everyone that they’d better get their derbis together, they were full of derbis, derbis derbis, derbis. When my dad finally gets around to asking this guy “What, exactly, is derbis?” he gets the following response: Foreign Army Buddy beckons him closer, crouches down, picks up a handful of dirt, and says (with finality) “Derbis.” The General has used it daily ever since.
Okay, so we’ve just been instructed to get our derbis together and head out the door. As everyone files out, I notice dear, sweet Christine (bless her heart) hanging back, waiting for me, with a look of panic on her face. She looks left and right, pulls me aside, and confesses “but I don’t have any derbis…I must have forgotten to bring it…” I didn’t mean to laugh at her..but I did. Actually, we all did, once I told everyone what she’d said. It was the greatest thing ever.
So we’ve all got our derbis (those of us that remembered to bring it, of course) and we’re off to the beach. The waves were unusually high and we were having fun digging holes and splashing around. Corinne and Annie were floating behind where the waves break (typically I’m too scared to go out that far) and Christine and I were body-boarding. We started to notice all these little fish jumping out of the water. It was cute and kind of weird, and we all commented on it.
I’m pretty sure that not even half of my family believes what happened next, but I promise you, this really did happen. Out of nowhere, this big old wave comes up behind us. Christine was further out, facing the shore and I was a few yards in, facing this enormous wave. All of a sudden, a huge, dark, fishy shadow flashed just under the surface. The last thing I remember seeing before I turned, screaming and running out of the water and up the shore, was dear, sweet little Christine getting knocked over and churned to pieces underneath the water. She had seen the expression on my face and was in the process of asking “What is it?” when the wave got her.
No one got eaten by a shark that trip, although we did visit an aquarium a couple of days later and learned a story of a shark attack that had taken place on that same exact beach years and years before. A guy was surfing and he had just paused to watch the silly little fish that were jumping out of the water when the shark bit his hand off. The idea is that the fish start jumping when sharks are feeding. Creepy! (Although, it has been mentioned to me that dolphins also eat fish, so I’m not ruling out the possibility that it was a dolphin in that wave and not a man-eater.)
Great times on the Atlantic coast. Christine became more of a member of the family than I was on those trips, as is evidenced by THIS family portrait at the top of a lighthouse.
I became all rubber-legged about a third of the way up, and once I’d gone a few more steps, I called it quits and slid back down the stairs on my stomach.
(The stomach thing may or may not be true, but that was the first time I realized that I’m terrified of heights. The lighthouse wasn’t even that high, to tell you the truth, and I couldn’t handle it. We’ll see how the Eiffel Tower goes…)