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July 11, 2008

Why I Don't Do Maryland Beaches

3 On the Fourth of July my family packed themselves into to various cars all around the Washington, DC area and headed to Point Lookout in St. Mary's County, Maryland for a huge cookout and a day of hot, sweaty fun in the sun. We had food and drinks and big wheels and balls and Off for the bugs and sunblock...well, to block the sun. My cousin rented a pavilion that was within walking distance to the beach. Yep, a good ol' Maryland beach.

I remember going to Ocean City, Maryland as a child with my aunt, uncle and cousins just about every summer. I was pretty young when I took my first few trips there, but I recall lots and lots of jokes about how "niki, is a sandcrab and she just plays and plays in the sand all day." I had witnessed a few of my cousins get stung my jellyfish and well, that just wasn't the beach adventure I was seeking. I might have been a child, but I was no dummy.

I also remember standing close enough to the water to see rows of jellyfish just floating there, waiting for their next victim. My older cousins and I would sometimes get brave enough to pick one of the slimy things up with a stick and throw it into a bucket for a closer look.

So anyway, as soon as my family began the chitter, chatter around Memorial Day about this huge cookout we'd have at Point Lookout's beach, I knew that I wouldn't be getting in the water. First of all, if I can't see my feet then I have a problem. And sorry, but you're just not going to see your feet at any local beach.

We were all there at the park/beach for about an hour when my husband suggested walking down to the water. My husband, Dutch, my sister, my mother-in-law and her children all walked down and just kinda stood right where the water meets the sand and that was good enough for me. Just then we noticed my three younger cousins (ranging in age from 12 to 16) and a friend of theirs walking towards us and they were shin-deep in the water.

Those silly kids.

It wasn't until later when they decided to take Dutch back down to the water with them that they ventured a little deeper into the murky water. Three of them came back to the pavilion complaining about arms and thighs stinging and burning. Thank goodness they held Dutch up high enough so that he wasn't immersed in the jellyfish pool.

This is when the fun really started because my family is pretty funny. You tell them that the kids have all been stung by jellyfish and everybody's got a remedy (a verbal one, not actually one on hand). My best friend said that you're supposed to use vinegar, but sadly enough, even with all the crab grubbing going on no one had any vinegar. (You know, you need vinegar for crabs, right? Eating them without vinegar is just not the same.)

My mother said that pee would get the sting out, but exactly where was I going to find pee to rub on these children? Sure, there were a bunch of toddlers and preschoolers in diapers and Pull-Ups running around, but was I supposed to just wait for one of the smaller children to tinkle and then rub the wet diaper on the stung teens? I don't think the teens were having that plan.

Then my uncle suggested using tobacco. "It'll take the sting out," he said. Well, I had heard of tobacco being sort of a bee sting cure, but would it work for a jellyfish sting too? My uncle claimed it would and since we have quite a few smokers in our family it was about the best option we had.

I unrolled a cigarette onto a sheet of notebook paper (thank goodness my aunt is a poet and always carries her notebook) and sprinkled a little water onto it to make a paste. Or at least I thought I was making a paste. I was told I needed to make a paste. How the heck do you make a paste out of tobacco and water??

We didn't come to the beach equipped with bandages so I just slapped the sheet of paper onto the oldest jellyfish victim. It didn't work. I stuck the same tobacco-y paper on each child, but all of their pains persisted and they kept on complaining.

My cousin's husband is from Trinidad so I asked him if he had any suggestions for jellyfish stings and he just said in his cool, thick accent, "People get stung by jellyfish all over de world! They'll be okay." And I don't know about the kids, but that answer was good enough for me.

But then again, I wasn't sitting there with burning legs and arms either reeking of wet tobacco.

An original DC Metro Moms post.

You can find niki d. daydreaming about Jamaica's purrrty blue water mama's got moxie.

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