Saturday, late afternoon, feeling my stream of NO-NO’s weaken from the continuous Thomas DVD requests, I suggested the 25 mile drive North—away from the smoke and ash of the fires currently raging—to Zuma Beach. My fatigued husband, who had battled his own personal firestorms all week as a worker back in the corporate world, surprised me with a quick, decisive, Lets f*%#*%# do it!
He didnt really say that, but thats how my startled mind interpreted sudden enthusiasm from someone who actually needed a nap worse than me.
So we cooked up the Trader Joes cheese pizza, filled sippy cups, stuffed Infant Tylenol, Desitin, matches, scissors, sewing kit, packets of astronaut food, flannels (in case the next Ice Age hit while we were out) and everything else we could think of into the diaper bag, grabbed the Thomas obsessed little guy and took off, me thinking the entire drive up and over the baking mountain, Crap, what about vegetables, hes not getting any vegetables tonight, hes notoh shut up!
Because sometimes you just have to go to the beach for dinner, even if you have no vegetables to take along. Because when its 105 degrees outside and the blow-up kiddie pool is shriveling and its late afternoon and grandmas gone home and you and your husband slept for 5 minutes on your Saturday because thats how long your sons nap lasted and the little guy is moving on to the next thing and thats going to include you getting up off the living room couch and following him from one end of the house to the other, you start thinking about where the coolest place with room to run a 21 month old is within driving distance that is NOT a crowded malland that would be: the beach, the one that everyone is leaving for the day just as you arrive.
Of course the toddler napped blissfully on the way there.
But that meant my husband and I could visit uninhibitedly and if we happened to utter an expletive, our little parrot would not repeat it. (Freedom!)
And when we arrived at Zuma, not only did we choose a lovely, sparsely populated bit of beach with a view of several pods of dolphins frolicking, but we happened to be sitting right where the man with the seagull on his head walks by every single dusk.
You really feel like youve seen it all when you watch your amazed toddler watch the man with the seagull on his head watch zany dolphins surfing Zuma waves. And then you talk to the man with the seagull on his head and you find out right away that he is not, in fact, crazy. His eyes are lucid and he tells endearing stories about the gulls—birds most people treat like pesky flies, or worse. I encourage every parent of a toddler to go to Zuma Beach near dusk, to Lifeguard station #12 and wait for the man with the seagull on his head to come along. Hes good at talking to children—all calm and happy-docent-ish, fielding goofy questions with a patient smile. When he said goodbye to us (and the rest of the amazed little crowd that had gathered), we waved as he strolled off up the beach into the sunset, kept waving even though he couldn’t see us waving—a man and a wild gull (occasionally unfurling her wings to keep her balance on his cranium) connecting. They made quite the catchy silhouette.
I glanced at the ocean as my husband and our son moved on to kicking the beachball around. The dolphins were still there, throwing up tails and flippers and making the water froth. I love dolphins. I wondered if I swam out to them, would they include me in their games? Would we connect?
I walked to the surfline, stuck my toe in the water, yelped. F’ing freezing!!! I hastily withdrew my feet from the tide’s reach, pretty sure the dolphins would try to sit on my head, anyway, and Id drown, or theyd swim away from me and a shark would take their place and bite off my foot like that one bull shark did to that unlucky dude fishing in shallow water and then how effective a mother would I be, hobbling after my son because I was stupid enough to go dolphin seeking at dusk, when, as everyone knows, sharks feed I breathed in delicious sea air and joined in the beachball kicking still going on, glad to have both of my feet. High above us, seagulls shrieked delightedly, circling our picnic dinner.