IMG_3181Followers of this blog will have noticed that we don’t go to the beach a lot. That’s not because we don’t like beaches — we love them. But New York City makes it easy to go to the park and hard to go to the beach. Few of us have cars, for one thing, and getting to the beach is a lot easier with one.

But at least once each summer, we make a point of going. Last summer we braved the hour-long subway ride and the siren song of funnel cake vendors to go to Coney Island, and this past week we went to Riis Beach.

IMG_3103Now, Riis is famous, but few of us had ever been. It’s a right pain to get to — in the end, we wound up hiring a bus to take us there and back. And once you’re there, there’s not much in the way of amenities. A few food vendors on the boardwalk, some fenced-in fields, an abandoned nursing home building for atmosphere.

IMG_2938But…what an amazing beach it is!

IMG_3145Who knew that one hour out of Manhattan there’s a beach that’s as free and loose and casual as you’d find on the coast of Spain or a Greek island or either Riviera (French or Maya)? The sand was packed the day we went — one of the nicest weekend days all summer — but everywhere people were relaxing and getting along, and at least on the eastern end where we set up our towels, as many women were topless as not.

IMG_3412IMG_3555IMG_3057How wonderful, for once, not to be the only ones! Not that we really mind when we are — it’s ok, as long as no one bothers us. But how wonderful to look around and see all sorts of women confidently baring their breasts, and no one thinking anything of it!

IMG_3294So we staked out a little patch of sand for ourselves and lost no time in stripping down to as little as we could get away with.

IMG_2919IMG_2949IMG_2988Not to be undone, one of the three boys we had with us this time decided to rock a gold-sequined C-string, which was the hit of the beach until he made the mistake of wearing it into the water. Hello, wave; goodbye, C-string.

IMG_9912The water was lovely. Choppy, yes, some giant waves, but cold and refreshing and we took many long swims…

IMG_3576IMG_3006…then walked the length of the beach after to dry off.

IMG_3411The beach does have a more “bohemian” (aka, gay) section and a slightly more conservative (aka, straight) section, and we probably got a few more looks when we strayed from one to the other. But just curiosity, not hostility. No catcalls, nothing to break the lovely mood of the day, even when we moved from the sand to the boardwalk.

IMG_3374Back at our towels, we got some reading done. (No, Invisible Man doesn’t count as pulp fiction — it wasn’t the H.G. Wells version! — and neither does The New Yorker, but cut us some slack. We like to read a variety…)

IMG_3500IMG_3227IMG_3219And for those who didn’t bring reading material? There was sun, sun sun.

IMG_3260IMG_3319IMG_3463IMG_3095Eventually 5pm arrived, and our bus with it. We took one last dip…

IMG_3037IMG_3519…then packed our things, bid a rueful adieu to the sand and sun, and motored back to Manhattan.

Would we do it again? Oh, in a heartbeat. It’s tempting to go every week! Yes, Gunnison lets you go fully nude, which would be an improvement; Riis has a history of being used nude, but that was in the 60s and 70s, and the world is more censorious about such things now. (Unless the ocean eats your swimsuit, people understand that!) But Riis more than makes up for it with the warmth of the crowd, the quality of the scenery, and the relative ease of access (Gunnison is in New Jersey, a 50% longer drive). And you really couldn’t ask for a better place to relax with friends.

IMG_3597Probably this was our only beach trip for this summer, but if you’d be excited about joining us for another, we can consider it — just send email to toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com and let us know.  August is beach weather too, after all.

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