A Feminine Approach To Everday Physics

This is a post from last summer. I won the coveted Runner Up prize from the highly selective Humor Press with this story, along with ten or fifteen other writers. I am so deeply honored.


We live in coastal Rhode Island, a spring, summer and fall paradise. Within five minutes, we can be on the beach, staring at Block Island and scrutinizing the day’s offering of pale tourists.

Wind is a big part of our rugged New England coast. It varies in intensity, but is present most of the time, and is one reason the beach is so refreshing on a hot summer day.

The beach involves sun, and with the hysterics over skin cancer, many people have added beach umbrellas to their sun-blocking arsenal. Unfortunately, half of the population is miserably ill equipped to safely erect a beach umbrella.

For some reason, most women lack any common sense when it comes to securely burying an umbrella in beach sand. Generally speaking, whenever you see females with a beach umbrella, prepare to be stunned by their incompetence, and, prepare to take evasive action when the wind tossed bumbershoot cartwheels down the coast leaving a trail of carnage and spilled Doritos in its wake.

My favorite thing to do on a hot summer day is go to the beach, crack open a cold beer, and then settle into my Throne of Judgement next to My Royal Consort. Aside from admiring bad bathing suit decisions and unfortunate tattoos, I also enjoy witnessing the Erection of the Umbrella as performed by a rotating cast of females.

Typically, they arrive sweaty and cranky, trudging through the sand, giant Dunkin’ Donuts cup in one hand, immense cooler in the other. Behind the vanguard march a ragtag collection of sullen teens carrying babies, followed by an armada of toddlers forced to drag their own bags full of plastic crap. Bringing up the rear is a lumbering pack mule, toting a second food dispensary, a soda fountain, and some beach chairs. With a big “oomph” of relief, everyone drops their stuff in the sand and runs to the water, leaving the two leaders to set  up camp.

What the two ladies forget, besides basic physics, is a trowel, or some other robust digging device that can be employed in the service of umbrella erection. Not knowing that such a useful tool even exists, one woman  will start scooping sand with her hands. When she hits the hard packed layer of stones a few inches down, much head scratching ensues.

At this juncture, the other female will bossily take over. Typically, she will grab the umbrella away, and start trying to jam it into the cement-like sand with mighty, yet feeble, thrusts. After a few minutes, the first female will drop to her knees and begin filling in the 6″ deep hole around the umbrella shaft, and then carefully mound sand around it, creating a little volcano shape, that they all agree will hold the umbrella securely in place. Well satisfied with their efforts, our two geniuses will briskly wipe sand from their hands and turn their attention to the next order of business, which typically involves dispensing obscene amounts of junk food to the children.

Once the erection of the beach umbrella is complete, my attention is needed elsewhere. I drift off into a book. Lulled by the waves and the sea gulls I doze until I am rudely snapped back to reality by screams. My eyes fly open, and there, barreling toward us, is a terrifying rainbow striped umbrella, bristling with sharp points. My Royal Consort will often be a first responder, and if he is in the mood and the gals are willin’, he will erect the umbrella for them.

Relieved that one less rogue umbrella is off the streets, I drift off once again, and hope that there are no more umbrella toting morons in our midst.

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