Southern women divide into two camps—beach girls and mountain girls. Granted, some of our sisters like both, but the rest of us don’t trust them. We like to see arduous devotion to the peaks or the surf.
Mama is a beach girl. From the minute she caught her first glimpse of the Gulf of Mexico, she was in love. (And no amount of cajoling will ever convince her that other bodies of water have their charms. No. She is a Gulf Girl, through and through.)
Back in the day, Panama City Beach, Florida, was Mama’s vacation spot of choice. We’d check into a little motor court with kitchenettes, and while she unpacked her skillet and groceries, Daddy would go to one of those bright pink stores selling beach souvenirs and buy us all new floats. Mama liked to ride the waves. But she’s a little older now. And she has seen Jaws. Together, a touch of arthritis and a heightened awareness of sharks have led her to choose beach chairs and umbrellas (translation: people watching) over her trusty float.
And for reasons we can’t fathom, those guys who set up the beach rentals always end up telling Mama their life stories while they adjust her shade. On our last trip to Orange Beach, she advised a darkly tanned young fella that he really did need to spend more time with his two-year-old, even if he didn’t have full custody, and that it was very important to raise children in church. Mama made it clear that, on her next trip down, she expected to hear of progress. He promised to do better.
Southern Mama’s lounge chair also seems to heighten her powers of observation. As the Gulf breezes blow and the Hawaiian Tropic wafts, she comments on her surroundings. And there’s something about the warm sun and the relaxing sound of the surf that makes Mama go all stream-of-consciousness. Want to listen in? Feel free to eavesdrop on what Mama says at the beach:
Oh, my goodness, would you look at the woman in that yellow get-up, bless her heart? Somebody needs to tell her that you really shouldn’t own a Medicaid card and a beach bikini at the same time.
Can you adjust my umbrella? I’m getting hot.
Can you adjust my umbrella? I need a little color on my legs.
Can you adjust my umbrella? My legs are starting to burn.
I smell barbecue. It ought to be about time for the early bird specials.
As long as you’re running up to the condo, how about bringing me back a Co-Cola and some potato chips?
Who lets these teenage girls out of the house looking like that? I’ve a good mind to go cover them up with my beach towel.
Oh, look at that precious toddler in the ruffled bathing suit! I hope her parents have sense enough to understand proper sunscreen application. I think I’ll go over there and remind them that they need at least 50 SPF. While I’m at it, I’ll make sure they put some behind her little ears.
Would you look at that man out there floating on his back? He needs to open his eyes and swim back to shore before he ends up in Cuba. Do you want to go to Cuba? Wasn't Ricky Ricardo from Cuba? I’ve heard that they have lots of old cars there. Reckon they’ve got one like your Daddy used to take me out in? Now that would be worth the trip.
Can you read the sign that airplane is pulling overhead? Says something about dollar shots. Must be advertising a firing range.
When in doubt, always follow Southern Mama's lead. She usually knows best. Oh, who are we kidding? They don't call her She Who Must Be Obeyed for nothing.