Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

No-Benny Vacation, Part Two

Then the rains came.

They held off until afternoon, granting us a good morning at the beach. Ron splashed around in the chilly water while I lay on a towel and read "The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency." Hunger drove us back to the Harbor House Inn, where we changed before lunch.

I had only 40 minutes before my pedicure, so we scarfed hot dogs at a diner and watched the gray clouds darken through the plate-glass windows. Then I placed myself in the gifted hands of Studio 506 for a basic pedicure with sparkly metallic polish.

I left the salon and stepped into a typhoon. Ron stood at a nearby corner, holding our only umbrella and clutching a plastic shopping bag to his chest. "Ice cream!" he said decidedly, ignoring my squeaks as I hopped around in those weird flip-flops salons give you.

"My pedicure!" I groaned, splashing ankle-deep into a puddle.

"There's an ice cream place!" Ron said. He handed me the umbrella and started forward.

There was no inside seating at the first ice cream parlor, or the second. We could now barely see through the wall of water, so I whisked us inside a Greek gyro place and collapsed into a booth. Undaunted, Ron left the restaurant and returned with his ice cream. More sodden tourists arrived, wiping their faces and wringing out their shorts, until the place was full. I didn't know there were that many people in Grand Haven.

Resigned to waiting, I looked over the local paper, The Grand Haven Tribune. Typical stuff, until I hit the editorial page. The first letter to the editor was from a visitor from Greenville.


"To the Editor:

"My husband and I chose to spend our Fourth of July this year in 'beautiful' Grand Haven.... After dealing with the congestion of pedestrians and traffic, we were very much looking forward to a relaxing dinner. We selected a popular establishment on Washington Street with outside seating ...."

(I could almost hear the jungle drums beating. What was ahead? An injury? A mugging? An offensively loud car stereo?)

"I looked over my husband's shoulder to see a man walking toward us wearing a huge snake around his neck .... I am deathly afraid of snakes ... and quickly left our table."

(End of problem, you might say. But the lady's ordeal was not over. She returned to the table only to encounter the snake man again.)

"I didn't hesitate to flee again to the safety inside the restaurant ... trembling and sobbing."

(I felt kind of bad for the lady at this point. But she wrote on.)

"My appetite for dinner and my love for Grand Haven were both gone .... Are these the kinds of tourists that Grand Haven is trying to attract? People that walk down the streets with exotic -- and [possibly unsafe) animals that scare women and children?"


Well now. Perhaps it is best if this lady does not return to Grand Haven, especially if she seeks relaxation during one of the town's busiest weekends (my pedicure lady said it was wall-to-wall people over the Fourth). But I doubt the snake man was a tourist, and I'm not entirely convinced that the city should launch a campaign to reduce irresponsible reptile-walking.

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