Charlie, as many of you know, has a longstanding, all-consuming love of the beach and swimming in ocean waves that is accompanied by a commensurately extreme anxiety about leaving it, thinking about visiting it and getting really incensed when the waves are calm and not in accordance with his Platonic ideal of rough-smackingness enabling him to rise high on his boogie board and then to drop down to the sand beneath the tumultuous swirling of a wave.
On the Fourth of July, Charlie slept in and called to ride bikes in Jersey horse country.
Off we went.
On the first mile, Charlie's bike's rear tire went flat.
I met him and Jim at the place whence they had started and as we loaded the bikes, Jim announced that he and Charlie had been talking about going to the beach.
Which was where we went after putting the bikes and helmets and pump etc. away.
About twenty minutes into the ride, we hit a few pockets of traffic on the Garden State Parkway, just as Charlie started pushing his iPad towards me, saying 'give' and 'I want' about a certain Teletubbies album (it is actually called 'The Album'). After seven rounds of iPad back and forth in which I failed to divine what the 'give' and the 'I want' meant -- those three words being about the average amount Charlie uses at any time -- he said '15.'
I looked at the list of songs on The Album and saw that there were 14, except that 5,6,7,8 were missing. Repeated attempts to download these in a moving car on the highway were to no avail. After more iPad back and forthing, we could see that the requesting, accompanied by wide-eyes stares, added up to distress signals. The focus became to calm Charlie. Jim pulled into a rest stop which lived up to its name: We refueled the white car, went inside, got a cold drink and a sandwich and fries.
Half an hour later we were at the beach.
Jim held Charlie's hand the whole time. The beach had been fulsomely, broadly, expansively replenished after Hurricane Sandy and while we had once merely stepped a few feet from the dune to be on the sand, now there was a broad plain of the stuff to cross en route to the ocean.
Charlie and Jim waded in and turned around. Three times Charlie turned back to the water and three times Jim pointed out how cold it was and then they dipped their feet in again.
We walked back across all the sand and got Charlie sushi from the little place we patronized when it had just opened years ago and didn't have a marble counter and shiny display case. Charlie wanted to leave the beach rather than driving around to look at our old haunts. We did stop for ice cream as he requested: As this has very, very often meant very, very bad news for Charlie's sensitive stomach, I gave him some apples to cut the richness of the ice cream and Jim shared in eating it. Charlie assented.
We went home peaceably.
Charlie wanted a bike ride and turned down two replacement bikes with working rear tires. Jim took out his wrenches, I dug around for the little bicycle book I had given him, we turned Jim's bike upside down to see how its rear tire was attached, Charlie stood nervously on the grass.
I guess it might be second nature for some to change a bike tire! Not for us but after sticking the wrong thing here and not realizing this part could pull out to there and knowing the imperative of not getting overtly vexed in front of already perplexed Charlie, we got the tire on on the third try and they had a speedy bike ride.
The boom and sizzle of fireworks are not to Charlie's sensory sensitive liking so I was not surprised to find him asleep later, his hands over his ears.