Last Thursday marked our first trip to the beach in swimsuits for 2012. Baby-girl proudly wore her new pink princess swimsuit and ran out to the ocean, squealing as the water hit her legs, begging me to move farther and farther into the Atlantic.
The ocean felt notably warmer than the week before, so we both went in up to our thighs. Since the ocean temperature was about as warm as water gets during the summer in most parts above the Mason-Dixon, it was teeming with all manner of fully-submerged jubilant Yankees. The transplants were committing at about the same level that we were, and the lifelong Southerners looked on from the shore, anticipating the day they’ll no longer consider it tomfoolery to touch the water (translation: when water temperatures hit the mid 80s).
Oh, I sort of did a bad, bad thing. Beside us sat some bikini-clad tourists, chatting away. At one point, my daughter said something about an activity with dolphins at her school. The next thing I know, the women beside us started wondering if there was a dolphin out in the ocean. They all leaned forward, staring intently.
“I think I see one,” one of the ladies said. Now, I don’t know this for a fact, because it was pretty far out, but I think what they were looking at was a floating pelican, moving upward with the crest of a wave and then downward, disappearing from view for a second before appearing again. But I’d bet the cost of the giant teddy bear my husband didn’t get me for Valentine’s Day that what they were looking at was not a dolphin. I know how dolphins move, and this bore no resemblance to it.
Now, I also don’t know this for a fact, but I suspected that maybe they had heard my daughter say the word “dolphin” and put two and two together incorrectly.
Then, hilariously I thought, baby-girl heard them talking about dolphins out in the ocean and started looking for dolphins herself. “I think I see one…oh, no, maybe not. Wait, there’s…oh, no, that wasn’t one.” I tried not to laugh.
I also tried to stop what happened next, but I couldn’t. I wanted to test my theory that the ladies had picked up the idea of a dolphin swimming near the shore from my daughter’s earlier comment.
Plus, some things just have to be attempted at least once in life.
In a voice not too loud but not too soft, I said to my daughter, very nonchalantly, “It could be a shark you’re seeing.”
My daughter looked at me quizzically, and the group beside me went strangely and instantly silent.
There was a long pause, and then I heard it: the word “shark” entered their conversation. Everyone leaned forward even more, searching for the nonexistent shark.
With great pain, I attempted both to keep my face straight and to feel a small sense of remorse.
Both attempts failed.
Eventually, the tourists tired of scanning the waters and we left to go retrieve the boys from school. When we returned with the boys a few minutes later, I spoke with such ebullience about the rising water temperatures that I may have overstated things a bit from the boys’ perspectives. They are, by all rights except birth ones, Carolinians, so their definition of warm water varies somewhat from mine. I had hoped, however, that the kid factor (kids typically can stand colder water than adults) would kick in, but instead, they looked at me like the true Southern boys that they are. “It’s okay, but we want to boogie board all afternoon in bath water,” was clearly the implication behind their puzzled looks upon entering the ocean.
“No, we just dress that way,” I answered.
Just kidding. But that would have made for a fun sequel to my shark comment.
I wish I had a picture of her strolling the beach in those boots, heads turning as she passed, but she inconveniently decided that she didn’t want any pictures taken right then. Maybe she knew she was way beyond a little cute in that moment.
You should have seen the looks she got walking that beach, however, kicking up sand with her boots as she went. Some people know “a lot cute” when they see it.