Reflections illuminating a week at the beach

Reflections illuminating a week at the beach

Last week, somewhere between soaking in the hot tub with an incredible view of the ocean and preparing my semi-famous shrimp fettuccine Alfredo with garlic toast, I had a revelation.

And no, it had nothing to do with the bioluminescence of algae or the inscrutability of the baseball playoffs; rather, I found myself thinking about the confusing relationship between men and women.

Bear with me, since this might take more than a minute.

It all started with a peculiarly vivid sunrise. My wife, wrapped ever-so-cutely in her flannel bathrobe, was sipping a cup of tea, and I, unaccustomed to witnessing such celestial splendor, was scanning the horizon for migrating dolphins, hoping for a breach.

Until you’ve seen it, such a spectacle remains nearly indescribable, since it combines elements of beauty and strength not seen this side of the Bolshoi or Jagger fronting the Stones on their 1972 tour.

I flashed back to a family vacation in 2009 when, flanked by her sons and their friends, we saw two dolphins break the surface of the Atlantic and begin an aerial display that left us awestruck.

“’Scuse me, guys,” I said, getting up in a rush. “I’ll be right back.”

I burst into the master bathroom where I saw my wife, chin-deep in bubbles as she lounged in the Jacuzzi-style tub. I could barely contain myself and blurted out the news of what was happening.

Keep in mind she’d never, ever seen dolphins in flight, not from Bar Harbor’s rocky coast to the warm waters off Key West.

“You’ve got to hurry,” I said in a burst, holding out a fluffy towel.

“I think,” she said, laying her head back, “I’ll skip it this time.”

It’s one of those moments in a marriage that leaves an indelible impression, and I’ve been puzzling over it ever since. Faithful readers will have no doubt understanding I’m nothing if not an expert when it comes to failing to grasp the intricacies of the feminine psyche since I was late to the dating dance and have been playing catch-up ever since my failure at the Freshman Farewell.

So I added it to the ever-expanding litany of lessons learned, which I drag around like some lovelorn Jacob Marley looking for solace.

As an erstwhile Kevin Arnold in “The Wonder Years,” I’ve tried to remain optimistic in matters involving the opposite sex, despite my sundry and well-documented setbacks. Fans of that seminal 1988-93 television program might remember his quixotic campaign to win Winnie Cooper’s heart and his realization girls were much better playing the game of love because boys hadn’t the intellect, the wit or the experience to make it a fair contest.

“They knew the rules,” he once mused, “and we just didn’t.”

There’s a bit of Hemingway wisdom in those few words, I believe.

So how do you explain the fact I’ve been with my wife since 1987, 20 years as an engaged couple and the last 15 as her spouse?

The best I can come up with is she must, on some level, forgive me my faults and flaws, perhaps out of love or maybe because she gets a huge kick out of my penchant for comic relief.

Which brings us back to us sitting side by side watching the sun come up as we celebrated our wedding anniversary with a week on the beach. It’s a cozy, little cottage, right on the water’s edge, and we’ve been there many times, enjoying not only its October-ish familiarity, but also its unrivaled view of sand and sea and sky.

“You know,” I said, “the sun doesn’t actually rise in the East.”

She ignored me, so true to my nature, I persisted with an elaborate exegesis of the whole junior high science fair presentation of how the planets rotate around the sun, which remains a fixed star, and what we see as its movement around the Earth is just an illusion.

“We’re actually spinning at a thousand miles per hour right now,” I said. “Isn’t that amazing?”

She glanced my way and coolly asked, “What about the moon?”

I should have known she was throwing a pitch in the dirt and the smart thing would be to just let it go by, but you know me: I launched into another long explanation of how it orbits around us, and the dark side of the moon is actually a lot more complex than we understand and then all about the lunar pull on the ocean’s tides.

Things got quiet except for the rolling surf and the laughing gulls.

Then my wife got up, patted me softly on the shoulder and said, “If you don’t feel like making breakfast, I’ll do it. You can just relax.”

A few minutes later, I was cracking eggs and pouring orange juice.

Like anything worth doing, being a husband is worth doing well, and while I may not always succeed, I’ve tried to do my best.

Sometimes, I wonder if I’ll ever get it right, if my failings can be washed away like footprints on the sand or if I’ll always stumble.

And then I think, “There’s no such thing as a perfect husband,” and all of a sudden, I picture two dolphins, their silhouettes forming an impromptu heart over the ocean’s surface, naturally in harmony.

Mike Dewey can be reached at or 6211 Cardinal Drive, New Bern, NC 28560. He invites you to join the fun on his Facebook page, where relationships can be simplified.

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