Where was your family’s go-to vacation spot when you were growing up? Ours was Ocean City, Maryland. Each and every year, we ventured to the beach and there were certain things that we absolutely had to have. They were staples of the American summer vacation. I’m sure I didn’t get them all here, so feel free to add to the list.
You may not know this game by its actual name, but you surely remember it from seeing the picture. I don’t know how many sets of this game I had, but none of them ever worked. They were actually quite awful for how popular they were. And once you got sand all up in those paddles, you were screwed.
Rainbow Beach Umbrella
For years, I thought they only made beach umbrellas in two styles. Rainbow and royal blue. Because you either brought your own (rainbow) or you rented one for some astronomical price. You would think it would be a good way to spot where your family was posted up…until the current of the ocean pushed you 50 yards down the beach. Now you’re 10 years old and staring at 35 rainbow beach umbrellas, thinking you’ll never see your family again.
Surf Style Windbreaker
I never had one, but man oh man did I want one. They also made an Oakley windbreaker similar to this, but at the time — let’s say circa 1993 — Surf Style was the mark of prominence on any boardwalk. Because when your ass gets sunburnt at the beach all day, you tend to catch a chill at night.
Trifold Beach Chair
I’d like to ask that whoever invented this chair go f–k themselves. I can’t tell you how many times I got my chubby little meat hooks caught in the gears while trying to fold/unfold it. Also, as I said I was a little meatball, it was nearly impossible to sit/lay in one of these without a love handle slipping through the plastic strips. And forget getting out of the chair without incident. You were better off just rolling off into the sand.
Great idea but how do you win? Honestly, I can’t tell you if I ever played a game of beach paddleball that had a score to it. Also, I can’t tell you if I ever played a game of beach paddleball for more than five minutes. The only thing worse than beach paddleball were the surfer bros who tried to show off with trick shots between the legs. Also, Scatch. Scatch was worse than paddle ball.
In theory, this was a great idea. I can see what’s under the surface while breathing! In all actuality, we were in Ocean City, Maryland where the water is about as clear as chocolate milk. Also, if you were trying to find an easier way to drown yourself, look no further. The snorkel was a great way to funnel saltwater directly into your mouth.
Did one of your parents ever look like my father on the beach? You know they did. Now go find the picture and post it online for everyone to see. I bet they didn’t have a stache/fro combo like my pops though.
Sun In was used to give yourself highlights or lighter hair all by yourself. Screw the salon! However, Sun In was in a goddamn spray bottle so two things were inevitable. You were not going to get the results you wanted and you were definitely going to get it in your eyes and mouth. Still, though, I used this stuff more than actual shampoo while I was on vacation. Since I had brown hair, I then had sweet orange hair. Notice the past tense? Had. I’m not saying Sun In made my hair fall out, but I’d say there’s a strong-to-quite-strong case for it.
Boogie boards were mildly expensive and only fun half the time. I don’t know if it was adolescent coordination problems, but I probably caught a wave less than 1/3 of the time. In fact, I would say that 85% of my youth at the beach was spent dragging a giant hunk of foam out in the ocean against waves only to get crushed by a breaking wave and having to do it again.
More so for the ladies, right? But there were those dudes who wore the sweet muscle shirts with holes in them. Not like a mesh. Like a super mesh. Girls wore something along the lines of this tie dyed work of art. Because let’s face it, when they were busy hauling all that shit to the beach, they wanted to be properly covered to avoid having to stop and yell at some asshole for a cat call.
Ugly Souvenir T-Shirt
Better grab that sweet t-shirt to commemorate the vacation you won’t shut up about when you get home. Seriously, did we think people wouldn’t believe us when we told them we went on vacation with our family? Nope. I needed to grab that t-shirt that gave not only the location, but also the year. This way I could keep my shirts in chronological order in my drawers.
Sometimes your family could be a bit much. You just needed to tune them out. For solace, we needn’t look further than our walkman. Just pop in Queen’s Greatest Hits and soak up the rays to the sweet sound of Freddy Mercury.
The $100 Beach Towel
No matter where you went on vacation, you could always find this beach towel. Either for sale or on the beach, probably next to a rainbow beach umbrella. There were other popular options too. The beach body towels depicting either a man or woman. You also couldn’t go wrong with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles towel. God forbid you get caught at the beach with a…gulp…plain towel.
Two words: Game. Changer. No longer did we have to worry about stepping on crabs, shells, sting rays or anything else evil that God put in the ocean. In addition to that, they also gave me much needed traction for hauling that piece of shit boogie board back out after another failed attempt to body surf. Or boogie. I don’t even know what to call it.
Big thanks to @DiNunz and my sister, Kara, for their help jogging my memory!