Sunday, January 9, 2011

Singing at the Beach

Singing At the Beach

For several years, while the kids were young, we would stay at a beach house on Fort Lauderdale Beach.

The house was owned by a woman who had converted it into 4 one-bedroom apartments.  My wife and I would take a week, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law would take a week, my backyard neighbor would take a week, and her cousin would take a week. Occasionally her friend from Tampa would stay a week when she was there so we would have 2 apartments in the house.

During those four weeks, the kids from at least 3 of the families would stay, no matter who had the apartment. 

There would be sleeping bags all over the place, on the floor, on couches, in the sunroom, wherever.  They were all friends and had a blast.

We would have to hide the sleeping bags each morning, as the owner lived in a separate house on the property and would occasionally come over and make noises about excessive occupancy.  I think she really knew, but we were regulars and the kids were well behaved so she didn’t make a fuss about it.

The adults not in residence that week would come over a couple of times at night during the week, and everyday during the weekend.

It was one long party for that month. 

There was music, food, volleyball, football, swimming, dancing (I learned the Electric Slide prior to my son’s Bar Mitzvah, a must for Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs), games, and an occasional drink. 

There was a Jewish, Cuban, Puerto Rican flavor to everything, reflective of all of the people taking part.

We even anchored two dinghies with outboard motors off shore and when the kids were old enough, we would let them ride around.  At night we would drag them onshore and chain them to a palm tree.

Other people would join in on the weekends.  My parents came sometimes, my sister and her husband; friends would show up, it was fabulous.

One year, my cousin had just gotten married. 

I had only met his new wife twice, once prior to the wedding, and at the wedding.  She didn’t really know me. 

The wedding took place about 2 weeks before we were to start our “beach holiday”. 

I told my cousin and his new wife to bring her daughter over to the beach house.  His daughter lived in Central Florida and had to return home (I have a future story about her in mind).  It would just be for the day, I said.  She agreed.

The first day at the beach, they brought over her daughter.  They joined in the fun along with my daughter, son, his friend, and cousins and had a good time.  When it came time to leave, I suggested they leave her with us, at least overnight.  I reasoned, they had just gotten married and it would be a nice “vacation” for them.

The mother was very protective of her 14 year old, but surprisingly agreed to let her stay.  Like I said, she didn’t know me, but my wife seemed responsible enough. She would bring clothes the next day for her daughter.

The daughter was in heaven.  She was out from under her mother’s watchful eye, with a nice 14 year old boy around, plus his friends, plus his older sister and assorted other people and a couple of chaperones who were less than watchful and clueless.

The plan was for the daughter to sleep in the sunroom with my daughter.  Little did we know.

As soon as we went to sleep in the bedroom, she and my son disappeared, or so my daughter told us a few months later.

We had fun.  Doing all the things mentioned above.  We brought in food every night, there were lots of young people, friends and family around, there was music, games, sports, and everyone was having a good time.

Except her mother. 

Everyday, the mother would call and ask when should she come down and get her daughter.

Everyday I would make up a new excuse why she couldn’t. 

We were going to be away for the day, we were expecting a lot of friends, her daughter wasn’t here, she was walking with everyone on the beach, it had rained yesterday, she deserved a day in the sun to make up for it, etc.

Finally after 6 days, the mother had had enough.  God knows what she was saying to my cousin about the lunatic relative who had “kidnapped” her daughter, and wouldn’t give her back.

“I’m coming to get her” she declared, no excuses.  “I’ll be there after lunch”.

I broke the news to the daughter, she wasn’t happy but what could she do.

I was just sitting there when an idea occurred to me.

I went to one of the beach shops on A1A and purchased some stick on tattoos.  I got roses for the girls and a knife for the guys.

I had them all put the tattoos on.  The guys on their arms, the girls on their shoulder blades, just high enough to be covered by their hair.

I instructed the girl to not mention it to her mother when she got to the beach house, but to casually flick her hair exposing the rose tattoo.  When her mother saw it, she was to say: “Oh, Shelly took us to the tattoo parlor last night, he said it would be ok”.

The mother came, the girl flicked her hair, the mother screamed.

“That better not be real,” she cried.

The girl gave her story.

“Tell me that’s not real, tell me” she exclaimed.

We finally calmed her down, and had a laugh about it.

It was going to be my son’s birthday that Sunday and I convinced her to come back to the beach with my cousin and her daughter. 

Amazingly, she agreed.

I had bought a Karaoke Machine so we could have some fun.  Our neighbor always brought his keyboard, and I had some cassettes tapes of songs from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, which we could all sing to.  My son in particular liked the old songs.

Everyone came; we had a cake, sang songs, danced and had a great time.

The guys sang “My Girl” and “Pretty Woman” just like the original artists had.

The girls sang, “Stop in the Name of Love” and did a little Motown review.

The kids liked “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and other songs from the 50’s and 60’s.  No rap allowed.

My mother sang a duet with my son of “Mother-in-law” and danced with one of my friends to “My Girl”.

She also gossiped with some friends of hers who came to the party while holding the Karaoke microphone while it was on.  People walking by were a little taken back by her conversation blaring out over the beach.  We finally figured out why people were startled and turned off her mic.

I left the Karaoke for the next group to use and it stayed all summer.  I still have it; my grandchildren like to sing into it.

I have a video of that party and time at the beach.  I love it.  Not only for the great memories but also to use as a source of embarrassment for various participants depicted in the video.

My niece in particular sees it as a major item to avoid.

She recently visited with her husband, who “insisted” I show it to him.  I think she is still a little resentful of that, but she does love it.

This past December, I showed the video to my daughter’s children.  It brought such good memories, we are thinking of all taking the beach house again for week.  My daughter, my son and I and anyone else who wants to join us.

It’s still there, under a new owner. 

Maybe we’ll start a new tradition.

If you come, be prepared to sing.

 I still have the Karaoke Machine.

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