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 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.”