Beach Blanket Gringo
Late Summer Dispatch from the Edge of the Empire
The Puns of August
Greetings and salutations! Thank you for bearing with me as I took a bit of time off to leave town (not too far) with all the kids.
My road trip tolerance has hit an all-time low.
How I always think the road trip will feel:
How it actually feels:
To paraphrase Wooderson, the teenagers keep getting bigger but my minivan stays the same size.
Peachy Keenan's Extremely Domestic is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
But we got to our destination and the beach resort was lovely. On Saturday we relaxed by the pool on lounge chairs, where we ordered drinks from friendly waitresses while the kids swam. I like hotels that come with ladies who bring you drinks right to your lounge chair, and you don’t need to do any of the dishes after dinner or run the dishwasher before you leave. Can your AirBnb do that?
A fancy Indian-American wedding was taking place at the resort and the entire wedding party walked past us on their way to the ceremony. The wedding costume was full, beaded Lehenga skirts gloriously sparkly and matching crop tops. The white chicks didn’t look nearly as good in them as the Indian chicks, who looked fabulous.
Later, we took a short walk down to the beach.
The surf was way too big and messy for the little kids to boogie board, but the hordes weren’t in the water. There were so many people you couldn’t even see the sand.
All the way down the beach, as far as the eye could see, north towards Canada and south towards Baja, hundreds of giant popup tents proliferated. Families were enjoying the perfect weather with full-service food and drink setups complete with stereo systems and elaborate wagons they used to transport the food and drinks onto the sand.
I was not used to seeing this many full-size tents on sand. In L.A., you only see big tents like that under freeway overpasses, giant fluttering wrecks with half-naked wraiths outside each one, cursing at cars and throwing trash.
These families were enjoying their own beachside vacation, and theirs didn’t come with valet parking fees or resort fees. No waitresses bringing you drinks, but still, the beaches are still free.
As we walked down the beach, I did the thing I was not supposed to do. I accidentally racialized the situation. My bad, sorry Mr. Rufo! But I couldn’t help it—I made the unforgivable mistake of noticing that we were the only white family on that beach, out of hundreds of them.
I remember hearing some racists talk about the “great replacement” theory, as if indigenous Californians like me are “being replaced” by diverse new arrivals from all over the world, mostly Mexico and Central America. That’s preposterous. How dare you. Of course we’re not being replaced.
It’s just that the indigenous Californians left, voluntarily, and some new people arrived, okay?
Who’s the Conqueror Now, Ese?
Standing on that broad Orange County beach, the aqua surf pounding behind me, I surveyed the land like Cortez did when he stepped onto the dry land of the Americas.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Peachy Keenan's Extremely Domestic to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.