Want to play a trick on the kids this summer at the beach?
While they’re engrossed in their video game on their phone or whatever it is that absorbs their attention in the car’s back seat and requires them to ignore you, sneak up on the newest tourist attraction at Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Make sure everybody is safe and the car doors are locked and secure and yell out, “Look! It’s King Kong! We’re gonna die!”
They put up King Kong in Myrtle earlier this month. Actually, they used a crane to put up a 35-foot prop to hang on a replica of the Empire State Building.
Kong will crown a new wax museum at the beach. It’ll be like the museum that already impressively graces the skyline of the business strip in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. When I first came upon that one without warning, I did a double take.
At the beach you’ll find Kong along Highway 17 Bypass at the old NASCAR Café location.
OK, so the kids probably won’t fall for a corny King Kong trick at Myrtle. But that’s OK. You’re supposed to act a little goofy at the beach.
We were unpacking in a motel room there one time and I began to get a little frisky. The Boss of the House up and asked, “What gets into you when we get down here?”
Truth be told, I’m making up for lost time.
In my early years I can’t say that Dad and Mom turned into the comedians Burns and Allen once we hit Myrtle Beach. My parents kept things pretty sober when we’d head there during Chatham vacation week, which was the third week of July, when Elkin’s big mill and indeed much of Elkin shut down for a summer holiday.
But nevertheless things were a little different when the folks and I were at the beach. The mood was lighter. We stood a little taller. Our steps were more brisk. At the beach we could spend the whole day together without the distractions of work, housework and school.
I almost fainted onto the old concrete boardwalk at the old seaside Pavilion one time when I caught Mom wrapping her arms around Dad’s waist. They never did that on Main Street in Elkin.
One reason for our lighter mood at the beach, I suspect, was that my parents had spent their honeymoon at Myrtle Beach. I never got details, but I suspect that our visits to the beach were due to my parents’ first trip there together, and it had been successful.
The three of us stayed in one motel room, so I’m afraid I didn’t afford my folks much privacy. We’d stay out on the beach during the day, then one or both of them would take me to an amusement park after dinner at night. Standard stuff.
The only foolishness I got into at the beach was one time when I got a rubber snake at Gay Dolphin Gift Cove, the big whatnot store on the beach. Then I put the fake snake on Dad’s chest one afternoon as he napped and snored in the motel room. But he didn’t wake up before Mom caught me and made me put up the snake.
Then some years later I was working at the old Chatham mill for the summer. At the last minute I got an opportunity to take on some extra work in the plant during vacation week. I could use the extra money for school Down East, I reasoned.
So I had to break the news to my parents that they would have to go to the beach without me.
I braced myself for a pity party with their tearful regrets. But it never happened. They took off on a Saturday with nary a discouraging word.
I didn’t take advantage of being in the house alone for the first time. I was busy here in the hometown with work and softball and trying to find something to eat.
The only loud party I had was the one with the mower when it came time to cut the grass.
My folks finally came back on a Friday. FRIDAY? When I was with them they never stayed at the beach past Tuesday. But for some reason that time they stayed almost the entire week.
And after they finally came home they never once said how much they missed me.
So this summer take the little darlings to see King Kong. Let them splash you in the surf every five minutes. Take them on the roller coasters and let them scream their little heads off.
And just when you think you can’t take it anymore, remember this. One of these days the little darlings will be big enough to leave at home.
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.