Life Guards

Ocean City has had some rather entertaining moments.  Because I’m an old lady and therefore no fun, I generally go to bed before everyone else.  As a result, I seem to get up three to four hours before everyone else can regain consciousness from their alcohol induced comas.  After drinking my tea and doing my morning pages, I quickly run out of ways to keep myself quietly entertained and head out for a long walk on the beach.

It’s usually not too terribly crowded.  I think we’re a little early for the season and it’s still rather chilly.  By the time I’m headed back to the condo, the lifeguards are setting up.  Rather than an employment agency or HR personnel, the Ocean City Beach Patrol must rely on a casting agent to fill their positions.  These people are pretty enough to play the Cullens, but far too tan of course. These Greek Gods are supposed to fish you out of the water and perform CPR on you?  No, I don’t think so.  I’m pretty sure many hearts have stopped beating and lungs have ceased breathing after setting eyes on these people.

I watched one blond siren intentionally topple her stand onto her back, then drag it through the sand to the water’s edge.  She then did a little half turn so the seat was facing the ocean and shrugged it off of her back and upright.  She wasn’t even breathing hard as she fluffed her golden cascading locks.  If I attempted such a feat, I’d still be about a foot from where the chair originally started, face down in the sand, being crushed by the white wooden monstrosity.  I wonder if that’s part of the interview process:  “Why do you think you’d excel at this job?  What specific qualifications do you have that other candidates might not?  How good can you look while dragging a sleeper sofa on your back?”

Once the chair is in place, the digging commences.  They dig little holes behind the back legs so they can tip it backwards.  Why?  No clue.  Same reason you tip your seat way back when you’re cruising the strip in your tricked out penis-compensating sports car while wearing gold chains and playing a ridiculously bass laden track out your open windows?  Next reality show to make it big on Bravo will be Pimp My Lifeguard Chair.

After they get the chairs rocked back, they make a mound of sand in front of the chairs.  I can only guess this is to soften the impact on their joints when they leap out of the chair to rescue some poor drowning victim about to have their heart broken.  That could be the old  sore-jointed lady in me talking though.  If I was a cat I might instead assume it’s their port-a-potty.  Having never been a beach lifeguard I guess I’ll just have to live with the mystery.

I have to surmise that they spend all their annual budget on hiring the most beautiful people possible, because they have no cell phones or walkie-talkies.  They seem to only have two ways to communicate, one of which is through hand gestures.  Well, not hand gestured exactly.  More like full body gestures – like the navy guys do in war movies from the decks of their ships.  When it’s hazy, as it was yesterday, they use bright orange flags to further exaggerate their movements.  When the interpretive dances don’t work, they resort to sprinting between chairs to gossip.

Yesterday the cast of the OC (Maryland styl-ee) was all aflutter and there was a great deal of chair sprinting.  Apparently some woman and her kids were standing at the edge of the water holding the end of a piece of rope.  When the Adonis of a lifeguard asked her what was at the end of the rope she answered, “My husband.”  It seems he was wearing a scuba tank and dragging a metal detector around in the surf to try and find buried treasure.  Even without formal lifeguard training, I could see how this might not be the best idea in the history of the universe.  Also, based on the quantity of panting, breathless, and giggling lifeguards I saw yesterday, I can only assume there isn’t a flag sequence for “Some crazy bitch tied her husband to a rope and is dredging the ocean floor with his body.  Oh yeah and he’s dragging a metal detector with him so be careful.”  Then again, maybe I’m just naive and they rescue bound treasure hunting enthusiasts on an hourly basis.

The most entertaining part of all this for me was the way in which I got to watch it all unfold.  I didn’t stop to listen to the story or sit and watch the bodies drug from the water.  I just caught bits and pieces as I strolled down the beach.  It was a bit like walking along beside a film strip and occasionally looking over to catch a single frame rather than watching it unfold through the translator of a projector.  First there was the clear flurry of activity.  Then I caught a chunk of conversation between lifeguards where one was needing to cover for the other while he filled out some paperwork.  Then a half a mile later I saw the family in question coiling up a long length of white rope.  About ten yards further down the beach, a guy was dealing with his scuba tank while a metal detector lay in the sand beside him.  At the next lifeguard chair, the guard was dusting off his red flotation thing and climbing back up to the perch while waving at the next chair down.  At that chair, two guards were doubled over in laughter and I heard “and the rope was allegedly to help her make sure he didn’t get too far from shore!”

I think it may have been worth missing the sailors after all for such unique entertainment.


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