In Search of a Summer Beach Movie – Part 4: Surfploitation

As the night went on, the party on the beach followed Bubbles’s instructions. They lit a bonfire. They had a ridiculous chase scene. They talked in outdated slang.

Finally, one of her friends asked about the surfing she has boasted about intending to learn. Bubbles, feeling all of the confidence of a beach babe knowing she was successfully making her hunk boyfriend jealous, ran to a board resting beside a sleeping man.

“I’ll show you!”

“I don’t think you should surf at night,” one friend pointed out.

“Or take someone’s board,” another friend said.

But Bubbles would not be swayed. She removed her dress to reveal the swimsuit underneath. She ran with the board skillfully, as if had done so a million times. The freezing water bit at her legs and was like needles pricking her fingers, yet still she went in. She paddled out just far enough, but not too far. She waited until a wave, not too big, but not just a bump in the surface of the water came her way.

She knew she could do this. She could feel the energy of all fictional surfers course through her veins. She paddled a little with the wave and as it gained momentum before she hopped up on the board. Her feet hit the slick surface beneath her and attempted to adjust her balance.

Within a second, she fell off into the icy wave. Salt encrusted the inside of her nose and mouth, burning her lungs. She managed to hold onto the board as she staggered back out of the water. Everything ached.

Her friends brought her a sand covered towel and asked if she was alright. One of them stealthily returned the board to the sleeping beach bum.

As Bubbles shivered and shook out her high ponytail, anger rose within. Surfing wasn’t exhilarating. It was hard! And she had sand everywhere, in places she thought no foreign particle could reach! Even their bonfire was a tiny, piddling flame barely able to keep her warm!

Feeling all of her frustration welling up, she screamed out, “That’s it! I’m done! I’m done with these movies! They’re sexist hooey! I bet the surfing was all fake and no one ever seemed to care that there were several cases of assault going on and no one ever really got hurt and there’s no one who really looks like Frankie and Moondoggie—”

Just then a young man with dark hair coiffed perfectly into a pompadour stepped toward her. His square jaw and broad shoulders made her take a physical step back. “Excuse me.”

“Oh my.” Bubbles murmured.

His dark eyes sparkled at her. “Sorry to bust up the party, especially since I’m off duty right now, but do you have a permit to have this fire on the beach?” He took a badge out of his shorts pocket.

As the word “police” registered in Bubbles’s mind, she let out a squeak. And with that, she ran to her Woodie station wagon, put the car into a decided reverse, and drove away from the beach for a very long time.

In Search of a Summer Beach Movie – Part 3: Ukulele and Bongos

Bubbles and her friends arrived on the beach once again after a long day of tourist activities including shopping and museums. “Today was just nifty!” Bubbles exclaimed. She admired the sun starting to slip beyond the horizon.

Her friends laid out towels and groaned as they stretched out. “Yep. Now I just want to relax for an hour before the others show up.”

A man chasing a woman in a bikini ran by, kicking up sand as they went.

Bubbles’s second friend watched them go, unsure of how to respond. She then turned her attention on Bubbles. “Aren’t you going to sit for a while? We’re going to probably be up half of the night.”

A group of their other friends who were on a road trip were merging vacations for the evening. The girls agreed to let the rather large group crash at their hotel room and hang out for the day. Bubbles was thrilled with this plan since the idea of so many people crowded into a single space reminded her of a Frankie and Annette movie.

She started to rummage through a large duffle bag she had retrieved from the back of her station wagon. Out came her portable radio, a ukulele, a pair of bongos, and several outfits.

Holding out one outfit to the taller of her two friends, she proudly proclaimed, “Look! I bought you a dress!”

The bright blue garment swayed in the breeze. Thousands of polyester strings layered atop of spandex were thrust into the friend’s hands. “That’s a lot of fringe. I mean . . . A lot of fringe. How many lampshades died to make this?”

“It’s so you can go-go dance. This is going to be the absolute ultimate!”

“Uh huh.” Her friend’s mouth hung open as she tossed the dress into her beach bag and allowed it to fall all the way to the sandy-covered bottom.

The woman being chased by the man went by once again. “Should we help her?” one of Bubble’s friends wanted to know as the pair turned at the end of the beach and vanished into a crowd of families.

Bubbles waved a hand nonchalantly. “Oh she’s fine. They’re just a running gag.”



Her other friend lifted the bongos and tapped the top to a slow rhythm. “What is all this stuff for?”

“A spontaneous musical number.”

One friend grunted and fell back onto the towel. Her she wrapped the edge of the terrycloth around her neck, pretending to choke herself.

“We have to have a musical number!” Bubbles announced. “Every beach party has a musical number. Look. I have lyrics and parts for everyone as soon as they get here.”

“No one will want to sing, Bubbles.” The friend with the towel around her neck tried to say.

“Of course they will. Look at that ocean and that sunset. The entire atmosphere is going to just want to make people sing. You wait and see.”

The same friend rolled her eyes. “Have you met our friends? The only way you’re going to get them to sing is if you get them drunk first and then I don’t think they’ll sound too great.”

“You’re right. We really need a full band, but I figure this stuff will have to do. I printed out the song and if you want we can practice before they get here.”

“Bubbles—” the first friend whined.

Her other friend slapped hand in the sand and they exchanged a silent, “I’ll handle this.”

She looked directly at Bubbles and gave her a sympathetic smile. “This looks like fun, but I thought you said you wanted a spontaneous musical number.”

“That’s how it usually goes when on the beach. If we were in a club or at a party it would be planned because there’s usually a stage but—”

“Then doesn’t lyrics and rehearsing take away from the spontaneity?”

“I guess . . .” Bubbles’s face fell and she sunk to the sand, tucking her legs beneath herself so she could sit in her pencil skirt.

“So just leave it alone. Like you said, the atmosphere is right. If a song and dance number happens, then it happens.”

And so they waited the hour for their friends to join them. As the others cat-napped, confident that they had escaped another of her cheesy plans, Bubbles sulked and ran the sand through her fingers. The stack of printed song lyrics became half buried beside her. The sun dipped below the ocean around the same time that six other boys and girls arrived in a rented van.

They all gathered on the beach, chatting about their different adventures and what their next plans were. Bubbles stayed mum, smiling weakly as times she thought were appropriate.

Then, a strange thing happened. One of the new arrivals picked up the bongo drums, at first goofing off and then absent-mindedly creating a strong beat. Another boy lifted the ukulele and tried to play a melody that matched the rhythm.

One of the girls found the song lyrics in the sand by Bubbles’s. “What are these?”

“Nothing,” Bubbles answered glumly, barely noticing as the other girl passed out the papers.

After a few more minutes of conversation, two of the newly arrived friends tried singing the words on the paper to the beat of the bongo drum. Two more friends joined in. Soon, a full blown sing-along had broken out.

Bubbles hopped to her feet in joy and started to belt out a verse. Other people on the beach came by and joined in with hand clapping.

Her original pair of friends sat amongst the chorus as the radio was switched on and people began to dance. They shrugged at one another before joining in.

Bubbles grinned at them. “See, didn’t I tell you! Isn’t this just the grooviest!”

In Search of a Summer Beach Movie – Part 2: “You Stupid!”

The following day, Bubbles traveled to a different beach and got her start earlier in the day. She spread out a towel under the flimsy umbrella she had dug into the sand. She nestled beside her wicker purse and removed her book, her deflated beach ball, a portable radio with a long antenna, and a bottle of Coppertone which she was fairly certain had expired in 1967. Within the next hour, her two friends showed up with exhausted expressions.

“Hey, girls!” Bubbles eyed their modern swimsuits with her own criticisms, “Thanks for coming out here with me. You missed a swell time yesterday, believe me!”

One of her friends started to apply sunscreen generously to her nose and cheeks. “Yeah, I’m just really not into surfing. Besides, you should have come with us. The amusement parks here are so much better than at home.” The truth was, both friends worried about having the responsibility of rescuing Bubbles from drowning if she tried to do any tricks on the board.

“How was the surfing?” her second friend wanted to know.

“Oh that.” Bubbles blushed and stumbled to get up. “Hey, who wants to go start a game? I can blow up the ball and—”

“I have to let the sunscreen soak in,” her first friend explained as she ducked under the umbrella.

“And I need to answer this text from Mike,” the second friend answered.

“Is that all you two think about is boys?” Bubbles whined.

“I didn’t say anything about boys,” her first friend pointed out.

“And Mike’s watching my cats. Even if he wasn’t my boyfriend I’d want to hear from him. I don’t trust my roommate to feed them,” her second friend explained.

Bubbles sighed and swung her arms back and forth as if dancing to a song in her head. “You just wait and see. He’s going to try to make you jealous by flirting with your roommate, because he probably thinks you’re out here flirting with all of the muscly beach hunks.”

Her two friends glanced at the other beach inhabitants, most of whom were too old or too young for their taste. At that exact moment, a man in a Speedo strolled by with a metal detector. Tufts of curly, dark hair blanketed him and peeked out from under his tan arms. In unison, her friends asked, “What hunks?”

“They’re around here somewhere. They’re probably planning revenge against some bikers who were on their turf.”

“Wait, I thought your thing was beach movies. Why are you talking like West Side Story?”

Bubbles went on, ignoring the comment. She pointed at a group of men and women in leather vests who had just arrived in the parking lot. “See! There there’s the biker gang!” She started to run towards the group while her friends screamed at her frantically to get back to the safety of the beach blanket.

The group was not the clean cut sort from the movies Bubbles loved. They were all middle aged with long, tangled beards or multiple piercings. Still, Bubbles ran up to the one she assumed was the leader. He had the longest beard and his tattoos more elaborate than the other men or women.

“Excuse me, can you tell me when the rumble will be over?” she asked politely.

The rest of the assembly started to grumble amongst themselves, thinking she was laughing at them. Yet, the man she had spoken to directly eyed the girl up and down, noting her 1960s style swimsuit and her bouffant hair. Removing his sunglasses, he asked carefully, “What did you just ask?”

“You know! Where you all have a slapstick fight against the young summer surfers over some bar or nightclub that’s probably run by a celebrity who had nothing better to do. And why doesn’t everyone in the group repeat you for emphasis?”

Each of the motorcycle enthusiasts went silent as the man she addressed twerked his mouth and leaned his head down into a dark stare. “Do you think I’m Eric Von Zipper?”

“Well, yes,” she replied with complete innocence.

The man couldn’t hold it in any longer. His face broke into a smile and the rest of his friends stared to laugh. When the mirth died down a little, he exclaimed, “I love those movies!”

In Search of a Summer Beach Movie – Part 1: The Surf-ening

Her name was probably something very Anglican and 60s like Susan or Patricia or Sally, but for the summer time she went by a nickname – Bubbles. Now, I was not the 60s and the name Bubbles had absolutely nothing to do with her personality, appearance, or even a love of the Powerpuff Girls. She simply worried about copyright infringement if she started calling herself Gidget. So Bubbles seemed a good alternative.

Bubbles loved cheesy teen beach movies and she was determined that this would be the summer she would no longer watch them – she would live them!

Traveling to the beach turned out to be harder than she thought. Each time she asked someone, the Californians would just point westward. They also seemed less than impressed with the Annette and Frankie music blasting from her radio. It took all morning and lot of colorful driving language, but she finally got her Woodie station wagon to a popular surfing spot.

First, she was shocked by the lack of people playing volleyball or building sand castles. There were no faux-Polynesian style huts surrounded by Tiki torches and the beach bums were actual transients who lived on the beach, not hot college guys having a break from responsibility.

Finding a man wearing a Hawaiian shirt, she lifted the ball cap pulled down over his eyes. When she had his attention, Bubbles declared, “Here I am! Teach me to surf!”

The man redirected her to a corporate-owned building on the boardwalk and grunted, “Effing tourists” before returning to his nap.

Still, she was determined. She marched up to the desk and repeated, “Here I am! Teach me to surf!”

The instructor, who not blonde or wearing anything colorful or in possession of a name like Kahuna (his name plaque read “Ricardo”), chuckled at her. “Sure. It’s about $60 to join into the group lesson, but that includes rental of equipment. How does that sound?”

“Fantastic. But I do plan on using part of my allowance to buy my own board someday. That would be the absolute ultimate!”

“Uh huh.” Ricardo answered, not sure of how else to respond. “Um . . . yeah. Our boards are all out back. They are just standard for teaching standing up and paddling—”

“What colors are available? I really want yellow with a white stripe or maybe something with pretty flowers all over it!”

“They’re just plain boards for learning on. We don’t customize them.”

“Oh. I guess that’s okay for today. Maybe by next week I can bring my own board? How long does it take for me to learn how to surf while sitting on someone’s shoulders?”

“We don’t teach that. In fact I wouldn’t recommend that for you at all . . . ever.” He watched her mouth quirk in stubbornness and decided to change the subject. “Let’s get you sized for a wetsuit.”

“Golly gee. Thanks all the same. But I’m going to surf in this!” She motioned to her light pink two piece. The waist of the bottoms reached above her belly button and the sports bra-like top had little white flowers embroidered along the thick straps.

Ricardo, officially having decided he did not get paid enough for this, held his hand against the bridge of his nose and demanded. “Out. Just get out.”