“Forced Family Fun” is what my siblings and I have called the last two weeks of July for the past 22 years. The five of us, most of our spouses, our kids and now grandkids are forced onto the beaches of Nantucket for two weeks every July (Insert sad face emoji).
The beach set up was strategically designed by the numerous (God help us) engineers in our family to block the wind, hang a clothesline for wet towels and, most importantly, give shade to those that need it. Two SUVs park perpendicular to the waves with one between them parallel to the the water's edge, forming a "U" shape. There are always 2 5-gallon jugs set out on the tailgate of one of the trucks, blue for water and red for lemonade, along with two clear plastic bags tied to either side, one for trash, one for recyclables.
Several beach chairs strategically positioned to capture the sun's rays are quickly claimed by beach bags. Coolers and fold-up beach tables are set up for cocktails and games. Blankets spread out in full view of the breaking waves await kids returning from the ice cold, turbulent surf.
Set up is now a well oiled machine. Set up, oil up and sit!
After a lunch of hotdogs, sausages and hamburgers on the grill, along with leftovers from the night before, my brother-in-law, from here on out known as “Cabana boy,” opens up the back of his jeep and sets up his pop-up bar. Blender included! Virgin and not-so-virgin Pina Colada’s and Strawberry Daiquiris are a few of his specialties. Of course, he also offers cold beer and boxed wine. Personally, I refill old 16 oz water bottles with my choice of wine for the day...nothing against boxed wine.
Now, let the games begin. The boys are still in and out of the water, the girls are making a music video to the latest and greatest summer song. The adults are rearranging the chairs into a large circle to play a game of Catch Phrase.
Great game! Every other player is on the same team...you have to get your teammates to guess the word or phrase on the electronic disc-thingy and pass the ticking disc before the buzzer goes off.
Older sister says, “It’s three words, first word...not hot...not cold...”
“Tepid?! Cool?! Warm?!” Her teammates yell out, all at the same time.
“Warm!” She slides from her chair, her knees sinking into the sand. “Last word...bread...cooked bread...crunchy...”
As her teammates yell, “Sandwich!?...Bun!?...Toast!?”
“Yes, toast,” she yells.
“Warm toast,” yells one of her teammates.
She turns on her knees and slaps her rear end. “Warm.” SLAP “Toast,” she says. “Warm.” SLAP “Toast.” Warm.” SLAP “Toast.”
The timer is ticking faster...
“Warm toast!?...Butt!?...Ass!?...Warm toast ass!?” Her teammates are on their feet waving their arms.
“WARM ASS TOAST?” Somebody yells out.
“WARM AS TOAST... warm as toast. We got it!”
She passes the disc right before the buzzer goes off in my hands. Point goes to their team.
“Warm ass toast”: another one of my family’s signature phrases.
Not too long ago I was at a formal dinner hosted by the Wounded Warrior Project. They happened to get my reservation screwed up and sat my girlfriend next to another person with the last name "Beverley." I was shocked since I have never actually met another Beverley outside of my family.
Of course, they fixed the seating mishap and we all ended up sitting together. We hit it off. He was half Puerto Rican, half English and over a few drinks I told him how I had researched my genealogy and he said that he had too. So, for those of you that don't know, I am half English (amongst other things) and I found out that Beverley is actually a city in England.
This guy one-ups me and tells me not only did he research our bloodline but he also went to Beverley, England to find relatives. He tells me he goes to the local church and asks if they know anyone with the surname Beverley.
The priest says "No, we ran all those bastards off years ago!"
The father goes on to explain that all the orphans and bastards assumed the name of the town they grew up in and all the Beverleys used to tear the town apart.
Hahahaha, so there you have it. I come from a long line of bastards and undesirables.
Dan is an Army Special Operations Veteran who works and lives in Atlanta, GA. Danielpaulbeverley@gmail.com
Polly P, Bunny (their real-ish names, I swear) and I used to live near each other in a gated community that had three separate sets of fairways and greens to play on, two different restaurants to feed from and several watering holes--some for the families with young ones, some adult only. It offered walking trails and group exercise...no, it wasn’t a zoo...it was a country club.
The first time we three got together for a chat and a bottle it was 5 pm on a Thursday night.
It took a little planning for Polly P. She called me early that morning to confirm that we were still getting together that evening.
I said, “Of course” and I was looking forward to it.
She told me she needed to know for sure because she had to save 25 of her 30 weight watchers points for our chat. That night she brought the best wine and a ton of celery. Lucky for us because the celery came in handy once we ran out of chips for the seven layer dip I had made for us.
Bunny called later in the afternoon to see if I had frozen peas in my freezer. No problem if not, she’d just bring her own. I told her all I had was frozen blocks of spinach. When she arrived that night, she went straight to my freezer and threw in a couple bags of frozen peas.
By her second glass of wine, she grabbed both of the ice cold bags; one for her forehead and one for the back of her neck. Hot flashes were taking over. After that, every time she came over for our 5pm chat she would bring frozen vegetables, and forget to take them home with her. Little does she known she’s been supplying me and my family with veggies for years now.
That first night our conversation consisted of a lot of unfinished sentiments, not knowing who bled blue or who bled red. We did our best to skirt around discussions about politics, religion and sex. We had determined one was too stupid, one was too complicated and one was too personal, not necessarily in that order.
Years later we are still great friends and these are still fluid topics, but we don’t shy away from them anymore. On any given day, any of those reasons could apply to any of those topics, for any one of us, depending on our hormones, how much wine we’ve had, or how bad our golf game was that week. Ah, it’s good to have friends that get you!
A few years back, my girlfriend Polly P and I stopped for lunch on our way home from collecting guests from the airport for my 50th birthday. My older sister flew in from Vermont. My younger sister, daughter No. 1 and one of my sisters-in-law flew in from Massachusetts. Daughter No. 2 flew in from Texas. They were all starving.
We stopped at a local Chinese food restaurant and even though it was still fairly early in the day, we were ready to have a glass of wine. (Luckily for us, this Chinese restaurant had a fairly decent selection!)
Polly P, who apparently had some sort of image to uphold, talked the bar tender into delivering our wine in coffee mugs. All the business men streaming into the restaurant were none the wiser.
I’m sure our conversations ran the gamut and most likely we never completed one thought between the seven of us. The food was delish and we shared our plates as well as what was going on in our lives. Polly P ordered another round and more coffee mugs were delivered to the table.
At the end of the meal we passed out the fortune cookies. Daughter No. 1 read the back of her fortune.
"‘LEARN CHINESE- Drunk, Tipsy.’" Then she explained that the next line had a Chinese symbol and and the Chinese word, "‘Zoo-EE.’” She sounded more Southern than Chinese.
My older sister went next, “Too-ee SHEE-you...it means to retire.” We giggled as we tried to count all of her teeth when she emphasized “SHEE.”
Next my sister-in-law, “Air you-AY...February.” She said it as perfectly as any third grade teacher would.
My turn came up. I flipped my fortune over and read in my most Chinese accent, “Toe-tahs-TAY.”
My daughter immediately grabbed the fortune out of my hand and said, ‘No Mom...that’s the english...To Taste.”
All seven of us doubled over and busted out in loud laughter. My younger sister ran to the bathroom. The game was up on the coffee mugs, now. People knew, if they hadn't guessed prior, that there was more than just coffee in those mugs.
My girls have never let me forget that. Whenever they imply that they don’t understand what I’m saying or if they plan on just ignoring me, they respond with, “Toe tahs-TAY?”
Kyle Ann Robertson
Chief Writing Officer at Ifcorkscouldtalk.com and BBWalsh.com