I grew up on the Gold Coast which means it was practically mandatory for me to wag school in year 12 and head down the beach on my oversized mens bike with ape-hanger handlebars and roast myself in the midday sun, lathered in baby oil.
For some unknown reason, we never got busted. Perhaps it was because no one ever noticed we were AWOL or more than likely, it was because our high school was just really shithouse at monitoring truancy.
Our favourite beach was Focus, so called this due to it being in front of a big round building as coincidence would have it, named Focus. We spent every daylight, weekend hour on that beach. Sunbaking, swimming and perving. We spent every spare cent we had on Coconut Oil, Cheetah Togs and Oakley Sunglasses.
This all came flooding back to me on Sunday when I got a solid whiff of Reef Oil. After letting off some heavy duty cockroach bombs inside our kitchen, we as a family had to get the hell out of dodge and decided to give the beach a whirl.
Now, again, living on the Gold Coast, you would think we would be down there most weekends, but to be honest, most weekends we run out of time. Not to mention the fact that the surf beach is a 25 minute drive away (with the Broadwater being walking distance) and well, add to that fact that we are incredibly lazy, our beach days are limited.
My kids love the beach and have seemingly zero fear of the waves. Unfortunately on Sunday the waves were dumping like a footballer down a hotel hallway, so we had to be very careful, but for a winters day, it was sensational weather.
The reef oil of course wasn’t mine. Not too far from where we dumped our plethora of shite which included sunscreen, towels, hats, two spare changes of clothes, the Sunday Mail, 25 monster trucks and my body weight in Tupperware, lay two young ladies in their bikinis. Holy maxi family Batman, where the fuck did the family with the beach bag the size of Kansas come from?
What struck me was the fact that, there I was, in military issue clothing, caking my children in suncream and erring on the high side of the sun alert level and yet here these two girls were, (one a fair skinned ginga) slathering reef oil on and having little regard to the danger of the sun.
I know this sounds hypocritical, after I just explained what I did in my youth, but I can honestly say, and let me be a Nanna for a moment, back in my day, we just weren’t alerted to the danger of the sun. My own mother suggested I fry myself with pure olive oil to get a better tan for god sakes. We would have competitions of who could rip the largest piece of second skin off a sunburnt back. This would not have been the case if the dangers of the sun had been presented to us back then, the way it is now.
Now I take Jack into kindy and he must be covered head to toe in Sunscreen, have appropriate hat and stay out of direct sun during the midday hours. Same with the school aged kids. They are whiter than Michael Jacksons good hand, but so is most every other kid their age.
The thing about the beach is that it’s so versatile. Of course there is the general, swimming and sunbaking aspect to it but on Sunday I saw it being used by a couple who were clearly distraught and taking some time out. There was a group of American boys using the beach as a grid iron stadium and for a young girl and her boyfriend, it was being used as a daylight drivein complete with heavy duty makeout session.
After two hours of swimming, driving cars through sand hills, making sand cakes, a couple of moments of going postal at Jack, kicking balls and sliding down the sand hills, we packed up our copious amount of shit and got cracking. Well Jack tried to get to know the bikini girls a little better first by asking them why they “had their boobies out”, but then we got going.
I do wonder if all of this will sink in to my daughter or whether her desire for a fabulous tan in her teens will outweigh all of the scare tactics. She can always just have a close look at her mothers crows feet and freckly face. That should give any young kid pause for thought.