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People Watching at the Beach

Man people watching from beach house porch with binoculars.

I am blessed in many ways, but my favorite might be my little beach house. I mean, thank you Lord for Jim and the boys, but this unimportant materialistic piece of property on the white sands of the Gulf of Mexico is just the best thing. It is a little cinder block house built in the 1950’s that has survived many a storm and has stood her ground with dignity and grace. She just got new windows and doors and she is seventy years old! She sits nestled on the west end of Bay County (outside of Panama City Beach city limits) amongst locals, other original houses in various states, an alarming number of 3 story rebuilds, and Beachside “Resort” (quotation marks added since nothing about this establishment is any kind of resort I would want to stay in and I wonder when people show up if they are disappointed/mad they fell for the internet pictures).

Google Image view of beach house from the ocean.

You really do see all kinds of people here at the beach.

I am fortunate that I have a porch and a yard that allows me to view quite a large amount of sand without being on it. I can safely watch and eavesdrop from the safety of my porch. Jesus was on to something when he got in a boat on the water to speak back to the crowds on the shore. You can hear everything up here if the volume is right. Cuz the shouted conversations are the most entertaining if we are honest. I also sit beside a public beach access that significantly opens up the cast of characters appearing.

Yesterday I heard a very heated argument in Spanish. Though I couldn’t understand a word of it I was all in and had chosen a side. Unfortunately, I don’t know the outcome.

The arrival of cell phones with cameras is a multiplier to the beach antics. We were already used to, and looked forward to, all the families in white and khaki to descend around sunset for family portraits. Now we get pictures all day. And oh what pictures they are.

Jim and I were sitting on the porch Saturday evening to admire the sunset as a pair of young ladies came down for a photoshoot. Harmless enough at first. The first model was tame. Simple poses in her tiny pink cheeky bikini. Then her friend took a turn and my word this woman was almost naked. She put her backside toward the camera stuck her behind out and lifted her cut up t-shirt to reveal her entire hiney. I think there was a bathing suit bottom involved, but I couldn’t see it. Then she took it a step further (I know…there is more) and faced the water while her friend photographed her from behind as she grabbed and own cheeks…and separated them just a bit. I about fell out of my chair.

If you haven’t guessed, I am pretty modest. I don’t think of myself as a prude, I just think that while you might find yourself sexy as all get out a public beach is not the place for showing the world your…butthole. In fact, I’m not sure any of us should be privy to that part of anyone. Save it for your significant other, if you must. And don’t lead with that.

Oh, my. I have digressed. I just wondered where her mother was and what her thoughts would be. Thank goodness I don’t have daughters. I am not sure I could handle it. It’s hard enough to be on the beach with my teenage sons and know they are looking. I think I might throw up.

Last fourth of July there was a group of college kids that set up camp right in front of our yard. There were a lot of them, boys and girls. They were pretty well-behaved, only a few getting rowdy late in the afternoon. 

At some point I noticed a few of the guys at my house looking out the window, and I hate to admit the binoculars were out. I don’t know why they needed those because there was a beautiful young brunette in a patriotic red bikini with her hiney out. Bo really wanted to go hang out with that group, but he just couldn’t find quite the amount of courage he needed.


I am always intrigued by the families that bring their entire life onto the beach. I get that it is a pain to walk back for things left behind, especially if you have walked a couple of blocks to get there, but goodness do you really need all of that? Tents, coolers, speakers, chairs, towels, big floats, wagons, buckets, goggles, snorkels, all of the toys, the baby’s pack and play, cases of drinks, full out meals. Mama and I even watched a pizza delivery guy show up as the day came to a close. I truly wondered if they were going to spend the night, but they eventually packed up and were back the very next day with all of their belongings.

I am equally intrigued by the folks that show up with a towel and maybe a book. I at least need a chair. And an umbrella. I love to feel the sun, but you have to take care of your skin. I hate to deal with an umbrella if I am by myself though. It’s hard to put those things up yourself. I have watched (and laughed) too many people struggle. All it takes is a good strong gust to show just how bad of a job you have done. Chasing an umbrella down the beach is not an enjoyable task.

I love to look at the water. I do not love to be in the water. I do not enjoy being wet, and too many little creatures live in there. Love them. Want to see them. Do not want to touch or be touched by them. I thought I had done a pretty good job of hiding that from my boys and being brave and going in with them when they were little. There is something so idyllic about an entire family splashing in the waves together. I remember the day I heard Bo say mom does not like being out here and that was the day I walked out of the water and sat in my chair with a book. If they already knew, why was I pretending?

Wildlife at the beach however is the one thing that all beach goers stand together on. We look out for each other, and I admire that. We had an alligator one summer. It had swum the wrong way in a drainage pipe and ended up in the gulf. We watched (from the porch of course) and people warned each other it was out there. It was so confused, swimming back and forth. Finally, the department of wildlife showed up and shortly thereafter, who I assume is a private contractor that handles alligators for the county, came with a long pole and a Winn-Dixie plastic bag. He dove right in in his cut off jean shorts (I’m not kidding) and the gator was caught and taken back to his lake.

We always see dolphins. There is no greater pleasure than watching a real-life show of the jumps and flips. It’s hard to believe sometimes that it is real. Dolphins really do act like that. The best part is the applause and oohs and ahhs as it is happening and the standing ovation at the end.

Well, I see a family trying to set up their spot. I better go supervise.