We all know South Carolina is a special place.
Oh sure, we’ve got our issues. We seem to finish near the bottom of every list where you don’t want to be on the bottom. Notice I said we finish “near,” not “at” the bottom. The old phrase “Thank God for Mississippi” still applies.
But we’ve got some redeeming qualities, to be certain. Among them are beautiful weather, abundant natural resources, amazing barbecue (mustard-based, please), dirty politics, an appropriate reverence for high school and college football, and the occasional appearance of the Lizard Man down in Lee County.
And then there is perhaps the Palmetto State’s most enduring hallmark, one that stretches for 187 miles, from Cherry Grove down to Daufuskie Island. I’m referring, of course, to our coastline, and all the beach towns — big and small — that make this little state one of the very best places to be when the temperature starts to rise.
Heading to the beach is a summer tradition for many in South Carolina, and it’s one my family will observe later this week, as we head down to Garden City, just south of Myrtle Beach, for a few days of fun and sun. We’re renting a house from a friend — the name of the house is Aquarius — right there along Waccamaw Drive, just across the road from a beautiful stretch of shoreline. It’s the kind of residential seaside neighborhood that eschews the neon kitsch of nearby Myrtle, but is still within shouting distance of the Garden City Pavilion Arcade and the delicious seafood at Sara J’s. Basically, it’s a good place to hide-out for a week in the summertime and tell the real world to kiss your grits.
There is literally nowhere in this world my wife would rather be than at the beach somewhere along South Carolina’s coast. She’s beach crazy, and she’s not picky about which ocean towns she likes to visit. She’s happy down on sleepy Edisto Island, with its quiet beaches and small handful of shops and hole-in-the-wall restaurants (shoutout to the shrimp basket at Whaley’s), but she’s just as happy up in the heart of Myrtle Beach, with its high-rise hotels and outlet shopping malls and airplanes pulling banners for Calabash seafood houses and discount towels at Wings and Eagles.
But, here’s the thing: My wife is so enamored with the beach that she is seemingly no longer content with visiting a couple times a year and simply renting a house or condo, or staying in a hotel. She has become consumed with the idea of buying a place at the beach. I don’t know whether it’s because she can’t resist the comforting sound of the waves crashing against the shore, or if she sees herself as a character in one of those Nicholas Sparks novels or movies. I’m hoping it’s the former, seeing as how all those Sparks stories seem to involve a woman who seeks refuge in a strange beach town after the death of her husband and falls in love with a local handyman with a heart of gold.
I have, so far, been able to keep her from pulling the trigger on buying a place at the beach. You know, seeing as how it’s a significant investment requiring constant maintenance and sits directly in the path of hurricanes every single year.
But, if you’ve read this column for any length of time, you know I likely won’t be able to hold her at bay (pun intended) much longer. This is a woman who has gotten me to agree to major home remodeling projects and rooms of new furniture by asking me at just the right time (i.e. calling me on the phone while I’m sitting at a football game at Williams-Brice Stadium and the Gamecocks are driving down the field.) Or the time she and my daughter purchased a dog, against my wishes, while I was away at a baseball game in Kansas City. That would be the oft-referenced Ollie, aka The Kansas City Dog.
What I’m saying is, I’m probably just delaying the inevitable at this point. Slowly but surely, I’m starting to come around to her idea.
Nothing wrong with a few more days at the beach.