Most of the time, I think of myself as a typical mom: chronically tired, several seasons behind in fashion trends and forever wondering what to make for dinner. But once in a while, something happens that makes me think maybe, just maybe, my youthful appeal hasn’t entirely disappeared.
Take last week, for example, when my family and I were at the beach at Pawleys Island in South Carolina. We were all in the water, and I was doing my favorite ocean activity – Boogie boarding. I’ve loved Boogie boarding ever since I was a kid. It’s a surefire formula for fun: You swim out a bit, then hang around and wait for a good wave to come along. When it does, you push off with your board, kick like crazy until you feel the swell propel you forward and ride it all the way to the beach. Then you get up, rearrange your bathing suit if necessary, swim back out and repeat.
My brothers and cousins and I could do this an unlimited number of times during a beach day at the Outer Banks in North Carolina without ever getting bored. It’s a lot easier than surfing and, in my experience, accumulates way less sand in your bathing suit than body surfing. If you need some variation, you can always angle your board sideways and try to crash into the person riding next to you. Or aim for the shins of your mom or an aunt standing in the shallow water. Good fun.
So, 30-something years later, I’m still Boogie boarding and, believe it or not, I’m still using the same faded orange board from my childhood. If there have been any advances in Boogie board technology in the meantime, I’m blissfully unaware of them, because my board still works just fine. And so, it seems, do I. In fact, my boarding skills were so impressive last week at Pawleys that this young guy actually came over to compliment me. Right in front of my husband and kids! He swam up with this awestruck look on his face and said, “How do you ride so good?”
Okay…the truth is that the young guy was actually a 10-year boy. With an extreme Southern accent. When he opened his mouth, my mid-Atlantic ears heard something like, “How do yeeww raahhd so goood?” I ignored my kids snickering in the background and explained the surefire formula for fun. Unfortunately, this poor boy was trying to catch waves with a tiny kickboard – the kind you might use during a swimming lesson at the pool. I gently suggested that he might want to try a bigger board.
That’s when he turned his attention to my vintage Aussie with the frayed wrist strap. He asked how much I paid for it. I was this close to telling him that it dated back to the days when we didn’t have actual money and had to barter for goods and services. But then I realized he probably hadn’t covered the first Reagan administration in Civics yet. (Later, my brother confirmed that the board cost two squirrel pelts, a real bargain considering that later models fetched upwards of three tiger teeth.)
“Want to give it a try?” I asked. My young admirer eagerly accepted and rode a few waves on the board until he got the hang of it. Then he swam back over to his own family. “Looks like you made a new friend, Mom,” laughed my oldest daughter, but deep down, I think she was kind of impressed. In fact, all three of my kids seemed to look at me in a whole new way, as though they finally appreciated my innate charm, charisma and all-around coolness.
On second thought, maybe they were just squinting into the sun.