Rob Jenkins - 10/18/09
Don't call it the Redneck Riviera. . . aw, go ahead

Take a furlough day (for me), add two days off from school (for the kids) and three weeks' worth of millennial flood-induced depression, and what do you get?

One long weekend on the Redneck Riviera.

OK, maybe that's unkind, referring to Panama City Beach by its traditional nickname. To be fair, most of the people I saw there last weekend were not wearing T-shirts that said "If you can read this, you must need another beer." And by "most," I mean at least 51 percent.

But since I used to live there, I think that gives me license to make fun of the area. You know, the way Adam Sandler can make Jewish jokes or Barack Obama can poke fun at Marxists.

Actually, we didn't live on Panama City Beach. We lived "in town" and took our young children to the beach only during those periods when teenagers weren't using it to consume large quantities of alcohol and expose themselves in public. In other words, February.

Still, I did acquire a fair amount of beach experience, which is why I was embarrassed this past weekend by a couple of rookie mistakes.

The first was running on the beach. Barefoot.

Now, Hollywood makes running on the beach barefoot look like a fine thing to do. If there's a beach anywhere in the script, some unnaturally good-looking person will be running on it, sans footwear.

The reality, though, isn't as pretty. For the first mile, I enjoyed feeling the sand under my toes as "Chariots of Fire" played softly in my head. During the second mile, I began to notice that damp sand has about the same consistency as concrete. And shortly into mile three, I realized that my right big toe felt like it had been set on fire. Stopping to check it out, I discovered a blister roughly the size of a small coconut.

In my defense, I'm not sure I should have known better. All those years we lived close to the beach, I never actually ran on it. Well, maybe for short distances, when my 2-year-old was about to put a hermit crab in his mouth, but never seriously.

So anyway, that was my first mistake. My second was to attempt skimboarding.

For years I've watched other guys skimboard and thought it looked like fun. It's not. Maybe if you're 16, weigh 140 pounds, and still have all your motor skills it's fun, but not for me. I landed on my rear end so hard it jarred my brain, which may well explain this column.

So next time you find yourself on the Redneck Riviera, or any beach, do what I did the last two days: just sit there and watch the world go by, resplendent in your new $9.95 T-shirt. Most people won't be able to read it, anyway.