Ectomorph Beach

I would like to apologize to the people of Maine. I would also like to apologize to the large segment of the Quebec population gathered in Maine during our recent visit. I mean, significantly large segment. Truly surprisingly large. Like, I’d expected a lot of Quebecers but didn’t anticipate such a concentration. Shopping in Hannaford’s, it felt just like home, except with a much broader selection of cheez snaks.

Regardless of race, colour or fleur-de-lis, I would like to offer my deepest regrets to the people at Footbridge Beach in Ogunquit, specifically those situated between the posted number 8 and number 9 signs, which are quite handy for locating your belongings among the endless umbrellas and carts of beach swag. And I do mean carts – trollies loaded with blankets and boogie boards and beach chairs until the whole overloaded contraption looks like an all-you-can-grab shopping spree at Canadian Tire.

(The English tourists, incidentally, have the carts; the French tourists have Descartes. They’re very philosophical about the beach, the French; if they fall in the water, they shrug, “I sink, therefore I am.”)

We sure do love our stuff. We can’t go to the beach without our strollers full of stuff. And then we park our stuff on a specific slot on the sand, the way we park our cars in a lot, which is why those number signs come in so handy when you go swimming and get pulled down shore by the riptide or the anti-reductionist dualism.

Nobody, though, goes swimming. That’s because the water in Maine is 54 degrees Fahrenheit, which, if I recall my empirical scale correctly, is the equivalent of minus-20 Celsius.

The tiny cohort of actual bathers among the overcrowded beach population could be divided into the young and the simpleminded, or in the case of my children, both. From the sounds of the high-pitched squealing, one would assume that the majority of swimmers were girls, but in fact many were boys reacting to the shock of their dumplings retracting into their body cavities.

During our visits to the beach, I mostly confined myself to the water’s edge, standing up to my ankles until the ache turned to burning and then to a resigned numbness. I stood there watching my children frolicking in the waves, wondering what the hell was wrong with them. Mostly I kept my shirt on because I’m allergic to skin cancer. But when the sun got intense, there were times when I stood in my bathing suit of respectable length and looseness, shirtless.

And for this, I would like to apologize.

bodytypesThey say that men don’t get worked up about body image. In truth, we like body image. We like body images just fine. The sole reason men agree to go to the beach in the first place is not for the curative properties of seawater or for the exfoliating qualities of sand in crevices where sand was never meant to be, but the opportunity to lounge about semi-clad while celebrating the grace and beauty of the unencumbered human body. And bikinis.

But one forgets that, while one is seeing, one is also being seen. And one doesn’t always see what others see, see?

So: It wasn’t until I saw the photo of me, standing at the water’s edge, shirtless, my back to the shore, that I realized I had become, sadly, hideously, a beach body buzz-kill.

It wasn’t enough that my skinny white chest and back were revealed to all, my tanned arms and legs proving (though not pleasantly) that I did indeed contain pigment. Why, when I was a child, they used to tell me I turned as brown as an Indian, but you can’t tan like that anymore. You can’t talk like that either.

It wasn’t enough that the stark landscape of my back served to highlight my burgeoning collection of moles, though did anyone consider their practical possibilities in terms of teaching young people about melanoma or the constellations or how to play Connect the Dots?

Mostly I was struck by the fact that, in this photo, it looks like my ectomorphic clavicles, ribs and spine are about to sprout insectoid wings. It’s hideous. I look positively reptilian. Or perhaps it’s amphibian. Which one can lower its body temperature to minus-20 Celsius?

It was not a pretty picture, and I apologize to all for ruining their beach day, their vacations and their appetites. But at least, given that I was speaking English, no one suspected that I was a Quebecer, so thankfully our province’s reputation for being ultra-stylish beach-goers remains intact.

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About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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40 Responses to Ectomorph Beach

  1. El Guapo says:

    I gotta ask – how long were you waiting to use teh Descartes/sink therefor I am gag?

    I actually go to the beach to get in the water.
    Or ponder. Beaches are good for pondering.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      It came to me in the writing. I really had to shoehorn it in there. A better writer would have said, “You know, that doesn’t really fit in what you’re doing here.” But I’m not the better writer.

      Ponder. True. But best when alone. I grew up in Nova Scotia where there are plenty of beaches of solitude (Superman’s summer home).

  2. “I sink, therefore I am.” Golden. And I believe it was Sartre who said, “Hell is other speedboats.”

  3. byebyebeer says:

    You sound like you have the opposite problem of the rest of us, aka morphing into endomorphs. (“I’m not fat, I’m an endomorph” does sounds better than “I have a glandular disorder”) Those illustrations are funny/disturbing. I think it’s the tiny head on the ectomorph.

  4. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    I’m sure no one really noticed. Likely, the glare off your back rendered them sightless. Most of us would love to be ectomorphs, even pasty-skinned ones. I’d love to see some bones protruding from my back. I’ll bet most of the beach-goers were thinking, “For God’s sake, eat a cheeseburger!” Well, I’d think that and then I’d think, “I hate the feel of sand in my panties.”

  5. Amanda Fox says:

    Us anglophones and our farmer tans. I have one too LOL.

  6. If it’s any consolation, I too am pretty pasty, except for my forearms, lower legs, feet, and the back of my neck. The sun reflecting off my untanned skin would be unpleasantly blinding. I am not, however, an ectomorph. Instead of looking like I should sprout insectoid wings, I look like a plump turtle without a shell. Equally sexy.

  7. Did you say “sorry”, “aboooot”, or “process”? B/c if you did – it’s a dead giveaway….

    Ha ha – I’m allergic to skin cancer too. And believe me – no one wants to see me at the beach.

  8. “The worm is in the man’s heart, the sand in his fecal tarmac.”
    Fat Albert Camus

  9. Elyse says:

    Isn’t 54 degree water considered warm for a Canadian?

  10. List of X says:

    I partially share your sentiment. I’m apparently an endomorph, so I’m also not much to look at, but at least I can provide enough shade for my wife to hide in.
    On an unrelated question – it’s not the first time I hear of Maine being described as a beach destination of choice for Canadians. What I don’t get – if you already have to drive 4-6 hours to Maine, why not drive an hour or two longer to Cape Cod, where the water is warm enough to actually swim in?

  11. pinklightsabre says:

    I sink therefore I am…that is really bad in a good way. As is that vile video. Vile! Kurt Weil vile.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Oh, it’s really, really bad. As for the video, Canada wasn’t known for its videography in the early eighties. Or ever.
      (I was going to work in “all the vile” somehow but enough is enough…)

  12. Ectomorphs are aerodynamic. They can swoop down, snatch the bag of Doritos, and eat the entire damned thing with no visible evidence anywhere on their effin’, streamlined, fat-free bodies except those three orange crumbs near the neckline. I laugh my sizeable ass off every time it turns cold and I see all the Portland ectomorphs shivering under suffocating layers of Polartec and wool. Wusses. I can go until October in short sleeves and scoop necks: boobs are well-known and oft-admired chest warmers.

    Hey, thanks for recognizing my genius on donofalltrade’s comments section. It’s better than getting Freshly Pressed when the kudos come from a writer I actually respect and envy and suspect is secretly self-medicating with tequila and Hostess. I don’t know why I suddenly feel compelled to take Don on for sport, but something about his Let’s Cut Just Until It Bleeds humor with the giant dollop of rage a la carte brings out my inner Hallway Monitor. And my Ninja-like literary skills just kick in.

    PS: The Oregon coastline is fucking cold, too.

  13. Men use OTHER boobs to get warm. Go ask your wife.

    Yes, it’s my thing. I’m a serial soliloquist. But you can tell me to get lost whenever you like, I don’t cry in public. That’s what changing rooms with fluorescent lights are for.

    Jibes are the powdered sugar on the creative writer’s Monte Cristo of performance anxiety.

    I never compliment. It’s either observation or all-out obsequious fawning for me.

  14. calahan says:

    The best way to cure many allergies is to simply immerse yourself in that which you are allergic. Therefore, I suggest a hearty round of skin cancer to boost your immune system. You can thank me later!

  15. Pingback: Hey, ladies, Ol’ Catfish is back! | Drinking Tips for Teens

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