Back story #1
For many years, the majority of the cousins, aunts, and uncles from our mom’s side of the family went on vacation together. As we got older, they opted to go to more interesting locales such as Ocean City or the Outer Banks. However, every once in awhile, they do make it to Jersey around the same time we do.
Back story #2
We aren’t Italian, but when it comes family loyalty, we’re on par with the Corleones. Ok maybe not quite that extreme… However, we do watch each other’s backs. The extended family can be particularly relentless when it comes to Dude.
Back story #3
Jersey beaches rob you blind when it comes to buying beach tags. However, one of the many positive aspects about our particular vacation spot is that individuals with disabilities are not charged to get on the beach.
Several years ago, our parents, Dude, and I headed to the beach as we do every day that we’re on vacation. Sitting at the entrance to the beach was an old, tanned, wrinkled man. The quintessential retiree at the Jersey shore. Normally the individuals who check for beach tags are pleasant folk, but not this man. We approached and he immediately zeroed in on Dude’s beach tag-less bathing suit.
“He needs a tag,” the old man said gruffly to our dad.
“Well actually, he doesn’t,” Dad replied. “Individuals with disabilities get on the beach for free and our son has autism.”
The man gave us a skeptical glare that clearly showed he was thinking my brother didn’t look disabled in the least. (A common mistake with kids on the spectrum. Don’t judge a book by its cover, yo!)
“I haven’t heard that before,” the old man retorted.
“Well it has been the city’s policy for the last five years,” Dad responded pleasantly.
“Like I said, I haven’t heard that before, but I’m gonna let you on today,” conceded the beach tag curmudgeon.
Annoyed, we trudged down near the water and set up camp for the day. The cousins and my aunts were joining us a bit later, so my mom gave them a call.
“Hey we’re set up in the usual spot. When you guys get here, be sure to give the beach tag guy a hard time. He gave us crap about Dude.”
Give someone a hard time? That’s like music to our extended family’s ears. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.
An hour or so later, our cousins and aunts walked up to our spot, laughing hysterically.
Aunt Lucy gleefully began her account of the story. “Well, we did what you asked! We decided to bother him by asking as many annoying questions as we could think of.”
Aunt Lucy: What’s the water temp like today?
Beach tag man: You can check the back of the lifeguard stand.
Aunt Marie: When are high and low tides?
Beach tag man: All that info is on the back of the lifeguard stand.
Andrew: Are there any rip currents today?
Beach tag man, getting annoyed: I don’t know.
Michael: What’s the current velocity of the wind?
Beach tag man, now impatient: Don’t know.
Michael: Do you think I could fly a kite today?
Beach tag man, trying to peer around the group to see if other people coming on the beach are wearing tags: Dunno.
Nick: Do you know what time sunset is?
Beach tag man: Nope.
Nicole: What kind of SPF do you think I should wear?
Beach tag man, looking at them like they’re crazy: Umm.
Aunt Lucy, turning to the last member of the group: Rachel! You didn’t ask a question!
Rachel: Uhhhhh. What’s your favorite color?
Beach tag man sits there, unable to comprehend what is happening.
Michael: Alright. Well you have a good day now!