There oughta be a law about beach etiquette. So, I wrote one.
Heading to the North Carolina coast? Call your state legislator and tell them to pass this bill to keep people from feeding birds, blasting Bro Country, and HEY, YOU KIDS GET OFF THE DUNES!
Once again, a weekend approaches, and many of you may be heading to the beach. Which begs the question: Do you even know how to do that? How to beach? More specifically: How to beach without pissing everybody off?
I’m going to assume that you, a smart person, knows how to do this, but just in case, I polled the readers of this newsletter about the things that constitute an egregious violation of Southern beach etiquette. Because the North Carolina Rabbit Hole is committed to public service, I will send your replies to the the heads of both of the houses of the General Assembly. If we can accidentally ban the Carolina Squat for no good reason, surely we can make an eclectic collection of beach grievances have the full force of law behind it.
In fact, because bill writing is very hard, let me just play the role of ALEC, but instead of getting government out of your everyday life, we’re going to get government all up in your coastal vacation. Lawmakers, you can use this for free, with one caveat: MUST CREDIT NORTH CAROLINA RABBIT HOLE.
Okay, here goes.
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED: THE NORTH CAROLINA DRAMA-FREE BEACHING ACT
Whereas, it’s easier to galvanize support by inventing a common enemy,
The original writing prompt here was to blame all bad beach behavior on Northerners, but Katie’s right: It’s really Midwesterners who are responsible. Laugh all you want about New Jerseyans (Jerseyites? Jerseys? Jersans?) and New Yorkers. At least they have their own beaches! On an actual ocean! If you’re from Indiana, you have a tiny sliver of Lake Michigan to work with, and it’s made out of fresh water. You can’t surf that, bro. Are you from Missouri? Do you sunbathe on the banks of the Mississippi? Are you trying to boogieboard behind a coal barge?
Midwesterners come down I-77 or I-95 with a sense of what a beach might be like, then head to Duck, and ruin it for the rest of us. I say this as a former Ohioan, who was largely ignorant of coastal culture for most of his life and only learned The Way Of The Beach during the last decade or so. I’m sorry to stick this solely on your backs, fellow Midwesterners, but this is the only way.
Therefore, be it resolved that Midwesterners are villainous straw men/women for the sake of the following arguments.
Whereas we all come to the ocean to, you know, look at the ocean,
Yes, the original complaint that set this all off had to do with people setting up a large tent right in front of you and blocking your view of the waves. Personally, I don’t care as much about this as you might. There is always going to be a front row of canopies that comes right up to the edge of the high tide, and everyone else has to line up behind them. The tides already regulate this. I’m talking here about folks who set up in front of everybody else during low tide, then squeal painfully when their case of Busch Light gets carried away by a rogue wave three hours later.
We’ll get to music later. For now, I digress: Even if someone doesn’t set up right in front of you, several people are going to set up indirectly in front of you, in which case you’re still not going to see the waves through the wall of Shibumi. I have young kids, so I’m usually down in the surf instead of under a canopy of some sort, so I know I don’t have a dog in this fight like you. Alas, someday I’ll know what it’s like to be able to relax under a tent while reading a dogeared twenty-year-old David Baldacci paperback for hours. For now, I’m spending most of my time being thrown chest-first into the seashell carpet by large waves that crash right on the beach. My kids, they really enjoy the show.
Side note: No, Bezos, you cannot clear the entire beach by pointing at the closest house and saying: YOU KNOW WHO OWNS ALL OF THIS? (two thumbs pointed at chest) THIS GUY! You laugh, but the North Carolina Supreme Court has weighed in on this:
However, side spacing is CRUCIALLY important. Nobody would come and set up a chair a foot in front of yours, but they will saddle right up next to you, speak at maximum volume, and spray sunscreen on themselves at point-blank range. Have you ever had a coughing fit from second-hand Coppertone? My friend, it’s probably because Midwesterners are right next to you, unaware of the true range of a bottle of SPF 15.
To be fair, they always ask, Is this too close? I’ve never heard anyone say yes, but I blame the language barrier for that. Midwesterners are polite enough to ask even if they’re going to do it anyway. “Hey, are we cool?” they’ll ask after they’ve already bumped their bocce set into your beach umbrella. Conversely, Southerners are too polite to say no, and would rather boil with silent rage while their neighbors drop f-bombs and play Spikeball at an uncomfortable distance. If there were rules posted, we’d all be better off.
Therefore, be it resolved that everybody just back the eff up off of me a little bit, okay?
Whereas, the majesty of nature is best observed from afar,
Yes. Please don’t. I know, it’s tempting to wonder which of the fifteen aerial garbagemen will get to the french fry in your hand first. But if you’ve ever had a large house party, you know who’s always the last to leave? That’s right: The people you didn’t invite but let into your home anyway. Seagulls are never on anybody’s guest list. DON’T OPEN THAT DOOR.
Sometimes, though, nature does have a sense of justice:
Therefore, be it resolved that if you’re going to feed the seagulls, you are totally gonna deserve what’s coming your way.
Whereas there are delicious things swimming all around you,
Hey, look, fish!
We all love seafood at the beach, right? Well, guess what? The the fish and shrimp from your favorite beach restaurant may actually have been caught thousands of miles away, even though there’s a perfectly good ocean right up the street. You want to eat local? There’s only one foolproof way: CATCH IT YOURSELF.
However, where should one do this? Folks, we’re all over the map on this one:
Okay, what you’re saying is: you should definitely not fish next to people, but people should definitely not sunbathe next to your tackle box, and nobody should walk anywhere near anybody else. This sort of reminds me of North Carolina’s traffic laws concerning bikes on the road. Cyclists have a right to be out there by law, but a car-cyclist encounter on a two-lane road seems to leave everybody equally mad. I’ll say, as a guy who rides around in a rural area, I’m definitely on team bike. Don’t be mean to the person who’s going to lose every time in a crash.
Hence, I resolve a compromise:
Therefore, be it resolved that swimmers who set up next to fishers should have to pay a small fee, but those swimmers are entitled to a percentage of the fish caught.
Whereas, hey, knock it off!
I’m sorry, you can’t hang glide off of a 4-foot-tall dune. I don’t care how many Trulys you drink.
Again, check the wind direction, and do not feed your cigarette butts to the seagulls, Uncle Steve.
To the brothers of Lambda Lambda Lambda who are within earshot: Look, I’m going to talk to my kids about sex and alcohol at some point, but please don’t make me immediately have to explain what it was that you got into last night or the lyrics of the song you’re currently playing. I was saving my family seminar on 2 Chainz until they hit age nine.
However, if you like music, you are welcome to perform this song with your friends from Omega Mu:
Also, here’s one for everybody’s ankles:
I’m going to ruin something for you: You can not actually dig a hole to China from here. Even if you could tunnel through the sand, cutting straight through the Earth’s molten core, and out to the other side of the planet, you’d pop out on the floor of the Indian Ocean. Sorry. It’s science.
Therefore, be it resolved THAT I TOLD YOU TO KNOCK IT OFF ALREADY.
Whereas, baby you a song,
There’s a whole Wikipedia page dedicated to Bro Country, but here’s the only sentence you need to read to understand it:
I’ve listened to “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line (featuring former Charlotte Bobcats co-owner Nelly!) many, many times, and I’ve got to say it’s sort of worn out its welcome. It was different and fresh in 2012, but now it’s given rise to an entire subgenre of fairly homogeneous music. Folks, if you need some day drinking anthems, may I suggest the oeuvre of Rush. It’ll put you in a weird place. Just like day drinking will.
I asked some folks to help me create a Bro Country playlist to know what qualifies, but they did not respond to me, which is fine. That’s because 1.) there’s already an Bro-Country Throwdown playlist on Apple Music, and 2.) I DON’T WANT TO ENCOURAGE ANYBODY.
So, what to do? There’s a First Amendment, after all, and we can’t stop someone from playing music that they like in a public space. Of course, that also means you can play whatever you want in response.
Therefore, be it resolved that if you are confronted with Bro Country on the beach, you are permitted to loudly play this 10-hour YouTube video that consists solely of Smash Mouth singing “So much to do, so much to see” from their 1999 hit “All Star”:
This act is effective when it becomes law, or whenever my sunscreen dries, whichever occurs first.