“Don’t get wet,” I say.
The kids slip out of their flip-flops and charge down the boardwalk toward the beach. This is earlier today. The kids run ahead, and I lean over and flip the hem of my wide-leg linen pants up once.
“You can put your feet in the water. That is okay. Just don’t get your clothes wet.” I say this because we are going out to lunch straight from our walk on the beach (and because I am a total fool).
We trudge through the sand toward the gulf. Once the sand becomes wet, firm beneath our feet, we turn left and continue in the direction of the sun. A wave surprises me. I stop, give the cuff of my pants a second turn. Todd points toward the jetty.
“We’ll walk down to the rocks,” he says. The kids nod, reach down into the water, then flick the salty droplets at one another.
“Don’t get wet,” I scold.
We walk toward the rocks. The gulf is on our right, and to our left is a brackish puddle – the remains of an aggressive wave that didn’t make its way back to the ocean. The kids spot this stagnant pool and rush to it. William trips and falls, gets the lower part of his shorts wet.
“Sorry,” he says. He brushes his shorts with his hand as though the water can be knocked off like crumbs. Carrie finds a dead crab in the puddle and puts it on like a hand puppet.
“William! Y’all! We’re going to lunch right after our walk. Don’t get wet. Please!”
I flip and twist my pant legs until they are just below my knees. The puddle continues, widens and deepens. Rejoins the forever-advancing/retreating tide. I find that I am suddenly on a sandy patch completely surrounded by water. In those pants which I’ve worked so hard to keep dry. The kids are soaked. Remorselessly so. Todd is just ahead.
“You’re kind of stuck,” he says. “Hang on. You can jump on my back and I’ll get you across.”
And I’m pretty sure there is an advertisement for Viagra that looks just like that: a woman in rolled linen pants getting a piggyback ride from her husband on a beach. But I am so desperate to stay dry.
“Okay, thanks,” I say. I take a cautious step or two in his direction, and then find that I’m not only wet, but locked. I’m knee-deep in sand. Quicksand! It was as though a trap door had opened beneath my feet. For all the cartoons I watched as a kid, I never imagined I would get caught in quicksand. It seemed as likely as running off a cliff and continuing to stride on the air; as possible as running through the side of a barn and, for my efforts, leaving a Ginger-shaped hole in the siding.
“I’m stuck,” I say, and I am. I really am. I wiggle my toes as best I can, and the sand ratchets down on me that much more tightly.
Todd helps me out. A few beach-goers stop and watch. William, overcome with envy, stomps through the water-logged sand trying to replicate the experience with his own tiny legs, but fails.
We change directions. Todd picks up a shell or two, and on the boardwalk we stop and hose off. And yes, we go out to lunch, but not directly. We have to go back to the condo first. We have to change clothes. All of us.
Click here to learn more about how quicksand works.