Beach bums

I have never found a shortage of things to complain about. I’m not proud of that. It may be a genetic trait I inherited from my mother, who was sweet as sugar about most things but never shy about offering her opinion. Years ago she served on a jury in Savannah. The defendant was a man who claimed he had suffered major damage in a car accident. And not just to his vehicle. The man also alleged that the wreck had left his wife unable (or unwilling) to participate in romantic activities. He was suing the driver of the other vehicle for what lawyers call “loss of consort.”
As the trial neared its climax, the wife took the stand. According to Erie McRae, it was a fatal error in legal judgment. Mother said, “That woman was so ugly and hateful I don’t know why anybody would want to consort with her to begin with. We didn’t give that man a dime.” Case closed. I have since felt the same way about countless politicians regardless of party affiliation. And until they find a way to coat it with M&Ms, I will never voluntarily eat cauliflower. But I’ve never, ever found a bad thing to say about the beach. Every stretch of sand I’ve sampled and every seaside adventure I’ve ever taken has beenngreat. Even when I didn’t catch a single fish. The last trip was no exception. The weather was bright and clear, the familiar gulf waters churned merrily away, the fresh seafood was fabulous and my wife, Angela, even met a new friend at a flea market in Elberta, Ala. It’s hard to see how life gets any better. I don’t know how you can live in such a great place and do awful things. But clearly, beachfront bliss doesn’t rub off on everyone. I always read the local papers when I’m at the beach, and the crime reports are generally spectacular. This trip was no exception, so I wasn’t surprised to read that a dude in Ft. Walton had attacked someone with a beer stein and a Phillips screwdriver. Cops said the victim—AKA wife— was battered because her husband’s chicken wasn’t fried. She baked it. Hubby was so enraged he began banging his old lady on the head. When a neighbor intervened, the husband attacked the peacemaker with screwdriver and stein. Fortunately, the man under attack managed to arm himself with a meat cleaver and things were at a stalemate until the cops popped in. I was not surprised to hear alcohol was involved. Booze can cause bad decisions, even at the beach. But another local story left me shaking my head. This tale didn’t involve liquor. It was a dining problem. The caper involved a man who was stone sober when he walked into a Walmart and tried to sneak out with two ribeye steaks in his underwear. To make matters worse, when cops tried to grab the guy, he dashed into the parking lot and threw the steaks—valued at $39.79—under a car. If there’s any justice in this world, the man should be forced to eat the meat he marinated in motor oil. I wanted to scream. Shoplifting happens everywhere but I expect better from beach people. If you live on the beach why not forget ripping off a ribeye and try to smuggle out a snapper or two in your shorts? It reminded me of an acquaintance who went to Panama City and came back bragging about eating at Longhorn. Just goes to prove that while you can only find sand and surf at the beach, stupid can thrive anywhere. (Send your email comments to: .)

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