Life’s a beach and then you die

Not only did a week at the beach provide some much needed down time, it also lent itself to some writerly reflections I’ve shared with you here. (Sorry/you’re welcome.) And while there is great beauty and majesty where the waves kiss the shoreline, there is also the ugly underbelly of life near the ocean. I speak, of course, of the seaside gift shop:

A world of capitalistic greed where sunstroke victims can easily be persuaded to part with their vacation dollars. Who among us has not at least been tempted to purchase a souvenir as proof that we were, in fact, at the beach? And nothing says “I’ve been to the Gulf of Mexico” like a coconut painted to look like a pirate’s head.


Really, I don’t object to the coconut head. I don’t believe an oversized nut really cares what happens to it after it falls from a tree. But what of sea creatures? Many of us look forward to Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. We marvel at these ferocious, single minded killing machines of nature. We fear them with awe and respect.

Which is why we feel compelled to stuff them in a pickle jar full of formaldehyde and set them on a shelf: to honor their ferocity:

Majestic, no?

Of course, if having a dead shark on your shelf proves too frightening, you could always opt for an alligator head paper weight:

Personally, I’d like to see them turn some of these into staplers. Form AND function.

The little pufferfish is a poor swimmer. In the ocean, its only defense against predators is to quickly fill itself up with water making it an undesirable meal with its sharp, pointy surface.

Alas, in death there are no such defenses against a hot glue gun, googly eyes and a little straw hat.

Not all pufferfish suffer the indignities of the little straw hat, some retain their former appearance

(Save for the googly eyes, of course)

There is no dignity in death, at least if you’re a gift shop sea creature. But what of dignity in life? The hermit crab, both sea and land dwelling, is virtually defenseless, and must seek shelter from its enemies via the abandoned shells of snails or other such creatures.

I suppose beggars can’t be choosers.

Have we learned nothing from the Spongebob Squarepants movie?

Perhaps not.

It’s good to be human.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go dress my dog up like a chicken…

« « Previous Post: Little red boat | Next Post: (Less than) Perfect » »

22 Responses to “Life’s a beach and then you die”

  1. Glynn August 17, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    You know what I think? This is actually a test retail location for Sky Mall. it’s certainly skymalladicious!

    • katdish August 17, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

      It was like the hillbilly Sky Mall outlet.

  2. okiewife August 17, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

    has Buddy Love ever mentioned running away from home? This is so entertaining. Love it.

    • katdish August 17, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

      Buddy Love lives a life of luxury. I just put him in that costume when he fails to appreciate his circumstances. It’s tough love, Lois.

  3. Hazel Moon August 17, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    I am reminded when our children went on a mission’s trip to Mexico. Our son brought me back a keep-sake that said something about Mexico. When I turned it over, it had this message; “Made in Japan.” Now a days all the souvenirs probably say, “Made in China.” πŸ™‚


    • katdish August 17, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

      Ha! No doubt. These days all the stuff from Japan is expensive.

  4. OpinionsToGo August 17, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    Entertaining, informative and, great photos! My favorite kind of post!

    • katdish August 17, 2011 at 10:50 pm #

      Thanks, Joanne. I enjoy the occasional investigative photo essay.

  5. Maureen August 17, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    I can’t imagine trying to get my Westies into a chicken outfit. I’d be disowned.

    But your Buddy’s a great model.

    I imagine most of the stuff in that shop is what’s found years later in the bottoms of boxes mothers clean out once their kids are gone. Ah, the memories….

    • katdish August 17, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

      Westies are too dignified for a chicken outfit. Perhaps a kilt and a tiny bagpipe?

  6. Jim H August 17, 2011 at 10:43 pm #

    my favorite is the baskets of seashells from the Indian Ocean that they sell in shops all along the Gulf of Mexico

    • katdish August 17, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

      I’ve lived near the Gulf Coast most of my life, and I’ve never seen most of the shells they sell in those places on the beach. Not even pieces of them.

  7. Louiseg August 17, 2011 at 10:52 pm #

    oh my. Not sure which made me smile most — your post or the photo of Buddy dressed up as a chicken. Seriously? He let you do that without biting your hand off? What a brave dog. Or is that depraved owner? tee hee — just kidding. He looks so……. cute.

    • katdish August 17, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

      He weighs 10 pounds soaking wet. He’s no match for me. Brave dog or depraved owner? Yes.

  8. Candy August 18, 2011 at 12:00 am #

    SeaMall. It’s what vacations are made of. I think that puffer fish thingie would make a great pot scrubber. Talk about form and function.

  9. jake August 18, 2011 at 7:47 am #

    All your vacation posts got me excited for mine. I’m not even kidding. I’m going to LOVE rummaging through “treasures” like this in a pathetic, last-minute attempt to get people stuff when I’m leaving. I’m glad life has been a beach for you!

  10. floyd August 18, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    Ahhh… Nothing like turning your cash into trash in an weak moment of emotion. I’m guilty every time! The cheap junk seems to cheapen the great trip. Maybe that’s why that stuff hits the trash can prematurely?

  11. Steph August 18, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    Oh my gosh! As I started reading this, I thought, “I have to comment about the nasty shark in formaldehyde that my son JUST let me throw out!” And then there it was, in all its gory-I mean glory.

    I think everyone has something to learn from the Spongebob movie. Myself, I learned that David Hasselhoff has impressively hairy legs. And can swim really fast.

  12. Jason Stasyszen August 18, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    Hey, people gotta make a buck, I guess. As long as I don’t have to buy it, I’m good. But you know they keep making it because someone is buying it (leading I’m sure to the ultimate buyer’s remorse). Funny/scary stuff, Kat.

  13. Alex Marestaing August 18, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

    Must be vacation when you have time to write…just for fun πŸ™‚ I hope you deeply enjoyed your week.

  14. Jamie August 21, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    I think “Souvenir City” is a must-see on any trip to the beach. Like eating great seafood or point to another tourist and asking your family “Do I look like that in my bathing suit?”

  15. Helen August 22, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    I never realized that snails never leave their shells. I found that out reading “The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating” and realized that as a child, I was a snail murderer. If snails had post offices, my picture would be among them offering a zillion dollar (or whatever snail currency is) reward.
    What does that have to do with your post? I’m trying not to judge the puffer fish crafters by reminding myself of my own failings…

Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image

XHTML: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>