our book club reads happy books!

A Night at the Beach

on February 21, 2012

Our Book club book this month was “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim” by David Sedaris. And yes, most of us  dressed in corduroy or denim, with some knit wear thrown in (my code name for sweat pants!).

Beth’s delicious refreshments were  on a table that displayed a lovely beach scene complete with sea shells, miniature beach chair and flip-flops. So cute! An homage to the story entitled “The Ship Shape”, in which the Sedaris children’s dreams of a beach house are dashed. Most found this story  sad, but we all agreed that all’s well that ends with a house in the south of France!

Although I did not express it that night, I did not find this story as heartbreaking as others found it. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I feel like the dreaming about,and anticipating of, something are sometimes the most enjoyable aspects of attaining things. Maybe the Sedaris beach house would not have been all sun and sand – maybe it would have  included renting it out to help pay the mortgage and that would have been more like the real life experience depicted in “Slumus Lordicus”.

Maybe because in my childhood a week at the beach seemed like a luxury forever out of my reach. The only time I really remember spending a week at the beach with my family was one time when we went camping (yes, in a tent!) at the Jersey shore. My most vivid memories are sleeping (or not really!) on a cot with sun poisoning on my back and shoulders. Not fun!

I often tell stories about my childhood at book club about hand me down clothes, and vacations with 11 people in 1 (large) tent, and 22 people in a VW bus and  I wonder what it sounds like from the outside. Does it sound heartbreaking and impoverished? Because my memories never feel like that. They feel very happy and very lucky. We were probably what some people consider poor, but I never did. We were never hungry, my parents owned a home and a car. We always had clothes to wear (so OK, maybe they weren’t the clothes we wanted!) And I remember a lot of fun and laughter. As hard as it is to believe looking back, whenever we were in that VW together, we all sang songs! Yes, we thought we were the von Trapps, or the Partridges- or at the very least – the Cowsills! And every Christmas Eve we would put on a show! Could we get any more geeky or wholesome than that?

Of course, there were also fights and bad times occasionally, but I am happy to say all 11 of us still talk to each other. I know how lucky I am.

But this past year, for the first time in my life, I find myself yearning for a beach house too. My daughter’s future in-laws   have a beach house and I feel like I’ve lost a tiny battle. In the competition for where to spend the holidays, most of the time the beach house will win.  Some people try  to tell me that not everything in life is a competition, but growing up with 8 brothers and sisters, I know better!


4 responses to “A Night at the Beach

  1. Trish says:

    But Mom, I already have a place in the mountains. I felt the need to balance things out!

  2. Stacy Kutner says:

    Well if you wonder from my side.. I find your stories humourous and always in a happy and joyful light – which is why I loved when you retold the dress one for my girls! I believe my first holiday with Lauren when all we had to spend was a pittance are still some of my favorites… Michael and I once gave each other the challenge to find a gift in a $5 budget… I bought my budding writer a page a day word calendar (very unique about 25 years ago!) and he bought me the 45 (yes… 45) Wild Horses by the Rolling Stones. These are times I never forget and always with a happy heart – keep sharing those stories – I for one love them – and you know I only like fluffy stories with happy endings!

    • That doesn’t make us sound old, right- talking about “the good old days”? My favorite Christmas decorations are still the ones I made when we were too poor to go out and buy any. And who wouldn’t love a Rolling Stones 45?

  3. […] “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim” by David Sedaris at […]

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