If you wish to wreak revenge on anyone, send them to the Delaware beaches for their vacation. I know. I just came back.
Washingtonians, skilled in reading through con artistry of all varieties in their native habitat, are suckers for resort propaganda. And no one has mastered this art better than the Delaware Chamber of Commerce.
I was lured there by their legend describing Bethany and Fenwick as "the quiet resorts." It is true that I found several square inches in between these two towns that McDonald's and Dairy Queen missed. But, overall, "quiet" is something of a misstatement.
From Rehoboth to Ocean City, the Delaware Shore is characterized by massive assemblages of "group" houses and Levittown-type apartment buildings. Thus, going to the beach -- or, indeed, getting to the beach -- calls for true Beltway expertise. The ocean, because, I suppose, no one has yet figured out how to build on it, is visible. But sand must be searched for in between layers of prostrate bodies and beach blankets.
Persistence is required if one is to carve out a small niche on the dunes. But persistence will do nothing to help if one is caught between the din of two boom boxes locked into different stations. Needless to say, the beach boutiques capitalize on the situation by offering a wide variety of earplugs to accompany other more traditional beach supplies.
Assuming that neither the crowds nor the noise has yet dampened one's enthusiasm for beaching, there is one final live hurdle to overcome: jellyfish. Jellyfish seem to be extremely fond of the Delaware beaches.
The Delaware Chamber of Commerce has probably carefully instructed Realtors and hoteliers to gloss over this fact when speaking to prospective Washington visitors. But once you're there, you discover that the locals speak of the water as a "good jellyfish day" or a "bad jellyfish day."
I am not quite sure how one is to deal with a "good jellyfish day," because I ran into a two-week run of the other type. But I would guess that the Chamber of Commerce has suggestions. Some locals, for example, like to recommend the boardwalk.
The best way to describe the Delaware boardwalks is to remind potential users that in Atlantic City, one can win money -- but in Rehoboth and Bethany, the opportunities are limited to serious financial loss. Losing money, however, is a small deficiency compared with the equal opportunity the Delaware boardwalks provide for near-fatal cases of indigestion. Hawkers, sensitive to the vulnerability of beach-goers desperate to drag children away from interminable games of skeetball, prey on boardwalk victims with a horrific array of either fried or frozen foods.
Washingtonians who survive the jellyfish, beach crowding and boardwalk menace are still not safe. The Delaware beach village elders know a good thing when they see it. Theyhave devised a hideously intricate series of ticket impositions -- the haul from which, I am sure, keeps the towns liquid throughout the winter.
Parking meters spring up everywhere. And half the youth of Delaware are employed in monitoring them. (The other half, I suppose, are working indoors to process the proceeds.) But Delawareans are nothing if not thorough. The income from the meters is good. The income from the speed traps is superb.
Village police and state troopers patrol the highways with the vigilance of SWAT teams. Undercover operatives pepper the road shoulders in unmarked cars and lie in wait for hapless Washingtonians heading for home. I hope that the tourists who remain faithful to the Delaware Shore are better sports than I am. I withstood the crowding. I dodged the jellyfish. I paid my dues at the boardwalk. I contributed to the expired meter campaign. But the speeding ticket I received (onlyone mile away from the county line) from a camouflaged state trooper was the last straw. Next year, I'm not going anywhere that advertises. -- Marina Newmyer