The following first appeared in Stephinitely, a weekly newsletter from columnist Stephanie Hayes featuring a bonus column and behind-the-scenes chatter. To get it in your inbox every Monday, subscribe here.
Summer vacations are full of hazards. Red Tide. Jellyfish. College coeds drinking High Noons. Older people drinking High Noons, before heading to the room for an antacid.
But no threat is as pervasive, as deadly, as unsettling as this:
Did you just shudder? Wrap a light scarf around your shoulders? You know what I’m talking about. We spent a few days in Daytona Beach, and though it was not our first summer vacation, the plague of Wet Families fully crystallized. My theory is that more families are out getting wet than ever, having been dry for so long.
What are Wet Families? I’m glad you asked.
1. They are wet.
2. They are families.
Good, that’s out of the way. Let’s go a little deeper.
3. Wet Families are at any recreation spot with a water source. The beach, a pool, a lake, a flume ride. Wet Families are especially prevalent at all-inclusive water amusement parks.
4. Members of Wet Families are never solo. They travel in high numbers, finding other Wet Families and congregating in a humid, breathy huddle. Hotel lobbies are their natural habitat. Want to spot the most Wet Families? Stand near the elevator, or the display of Pop Tarts.
5. They leave a trail of water everywhere, rubber sandal imprints smeared into the tile: Havaianassssss or Crocsssss or Adidassssss. Suspect you just missed a group of Wet Families? Look for the exhausted hotel employee with the mop.
6. Wet Families exist in various states of undress, swim trunks with no shirt, bathing suit with no shorts, kids with sticky rash guards and swim diapers. Sopping towels drape limply across their shoulders. Toes are visible. Band-Aids hang loose.
7. They do not pack lightly. Wet Families will carry every item they brought on vacation: beach chairs; umbrellas; coolers; floaties; bug spray; insulated mugs; books; tablets; High Noons; portable speakers blaring Kenny Chesney; the Declaration of Independence.
8. NOT TO GENERALIZE, but Wet Families are grumpy. Their Day of Wetness has been going on for a while. Someone has probably cried, fallen, gone to the bathroom without a bathroom, or said something they can’t take back due to the High Noons.
Okay, now for the worst part. Are you ready? This is the most horrifying thing I have ever written. It’s like staring into a future from which you cannot escape.
If you are near Wet Families, you ARE Wet Families. Unless you came to this water vacation to stay completely dry, there is no avoiding your destiny.
After a morning at the beach, we gathered our beach bag and sandals and sunscreen and Bruce Springsteen box set, Vol. 1, 1973-1984. We wrapped ourselves in drippy towels and headed inside.
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A lovely, dry couple waited for the elevator. Determined not to be a Grumpy Wet Family, I smiled widely and made a dramatic “AFTER YOU” motion, like a deranged, soggy butler. The couple smiled politely as we cowered in the corner of the elevator, ashamed.
I know what they were thinking.
Ugh, Wet Families.
Don’t worry. You’re next.