The last time I went to the beach specifically in order to spend the day swimming was, believe it or not, on Groundhog Day. Mary Anne, Steve, Mark, some friends of theirs and I went there for a Polar Bear Club fund raiser. If we were ever to go there around this time of the year, on a bright sunny day, eating watermelon and having a leisurely enjoyable time, and suddenly from out of nowhere, hail were to start falling onto us, it most certainly wouldn’t be even the least bit difficult to find something else to do. Of course there’s a pretty good chance we wouldn’t stay on the beach so maybe we could go to someplace like either the Coffee Nut Cafe or Gentle Brew in order to get something really nice to eat or to drink. Those are both exceptionally good coffee shops on Park Avenue in Long Beach. We could even do what we did after our jaunt on Groundhog Day. We could very easily come back to the house and have a few drinks or coffee, or both, right here. It would be difficult to get there but at least we could stay indoors and have something enjoyable to do until the storm abated. Since the beach is only around a half mile walk from here it’s never the least bit difficult, although there would be quite a few other disgruntled people to have to deal with under such a harrowing set of circumstances. The only thing that would make it unbearably aggravating, would be that, since the beach is so close to here, we would most probably have walked there. That would mean that we’d have to walk away in such unbearably miserable weather. Even in a car, we’d be forced to drive so unbearably slowly in order to avoid any trouble. For people who have to travel an even reasonably significant distance to the beach, of course, things wouldn’t work out the least bit well. Of course that’s all assuming it’s only a moderate hailstorm. If it gets very bad, we’ll have to hide under the boardwalk.
I absolutely don’t remember any details whatsoever about this picture except that it was taken sometime between the period slightly before Christmas 2013 and somewhat before Easter 2014. I can say that much with absolute certitude for exactly two reasons. One is because that was when I had a beard. For some reason I chose to take a chance on trying to grow as full a beard as possible last autumn. The other reason is because I’m wearing Steve’s sweatshirt from St. Peter’s Prep. It’s a Jesuit high school in New Jersey. He’s on the music faculty and he’s in charge of the band . I only started wearing it around the end of last year when it started getting very cold. There were only two occasions I can remember during that time frame when we took pictures. One was Christmas. The other was for the Polar Bear Club fund raiser on Super Bowl Sunday. Unfortunately I can’t even try to remember what I was wearing either day. The picture was taken in the living room, where I am right now. I can tell that I was standing right in front of the couch I’m now sitting on because I can see the air conditioner and light bulb in the picture directly over my left shoulder. This picture has been getting quite a lot of mileage as a profile picture. It’s quite a lot nicer than very many other pictures of me. Besides that it’s an interesting change of pace since I’m most certainly not known for wearing a beard. Unlike many men I have quite a nasty time with facial hair. If I let my beard go for only a short time it looks atrocious and I have to shave. This time I really exercised quite a lot of patience and tried to leave it alone for a significant length of time. After a while I got bored and annoyed with it.
This year Groundhog Day fell on a Sunday. It’s also the Feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary in the Temple so I went to 8:00 a.m. Mass at St. Mary of the Isle on Park Avenue. That specific day also happened to have marked two other very distinctive occasions for us. It was also Super Bowl Sunday. This year was Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos. That’s also the day each year during which the local members of the Polar Bear Club have their annual fund raiser in Long Beach, to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation. After Mass I came back to Mary Anne’s and Steve’s house to find cousin Mark here. He and Steve were hanging around getting ready for the big day over at the boardwalk. Each of us put his bathing suit on and after a few shots of Jameson’s Irish whiskey , that seems to have become quite a staple for us by now on special occasions, we went, with Mary Anne’s friend Lynn, to the beach at the boardwalk. On the way we met another friend of theirs, Liz, who comes from Brooklyn each year to join them. Because of bitter cold weather and precipitation over the course of the past few days, and a very foggy morning, it was quite a surprisingly nice day, although horribly cold. Everyone had a nice time and the Polar Bears made quite a lot of money for the Make A Wish Foundation. As always, though I was seriously aggravated by all the endless walking.