My family went to the beach last week, which nearly drove my wife crazy.
Bess grew up taking vacations to museums, national parks, historic districts and other places where people go to learn things.
I grew up taking vacations to Gulf Coast beaches, where people go to do nothing. If we wanted to learn something, we'd go to a beach on the Atlantic, where we'd learn that the beaches weren't as nice as those on the Gulf.
Since Bess and I got married, we've been alternating vacations between learning something and doing nothing. Thankfully, we spent last week doing nothing.
It's hard for some people, including my wife, to do nothing. Whenever we'd go for a walk on the beach, Bess would want to know how far we were walking, how fast we were moving, how those people over there could have possibly let themselves get that sunburned, and, really, why we were at the beach in the first place.
I think when you're at the beach you should never ask why you're doing anything. The trick is not to think too much about it.
I didn't ask why and I had a great vacation.
In the house we were renting, I found a dice-rolling game called Farkle and challenged my wife to a match. Like any game of chance, the trick is knowing when to hold, but Bess would just roll the dice until she lost, as if she was questioning why anyone would want to win a game of Farkle, and more importantly, why anybody would play Farkle at the beach, or even go to the beach in the first place.
I also found a German submarine novel called "Das Boot" and read half of it before I realized it was 500 pages long and the submarine hadn't even been attacked yet.
Another time, I went out to buy some bait and came back with a competition bocce ball set, and then organized a family tournament on the beach.
While I was throwing colorful plastic balls into the sand, I realized the exact moment when I really learned how to do nothing.
It was in college. Everybody in my freshman dorm played Four Square. In the afternoon, I'd return from class and ditch my backpack and then get in line to play the winner.
One day, it started snowing and we went inside and invented a game called Hall Ball, a sophisticated sport in which you stand at one end of the hall and somebody stands at the other end and you take some sort of ball or even a random object and throw it as hard as you can at the other person and if the ball gets past the person then you get a point and if he stops it then he gets a point. Then, if he's medically able, he throws the object back at you.
At the time, Bess was living in a nearby freshman dorm. She wasn't playing Four Square or inventing Hall Ball. She was studying.
It would serve her well in life. Just not when she's visiting the beach.
Contact Dimon Kendrick-Holmes, executive editor, at email@example.com