When I think of Folly Beach, pictures of shirtless, sweaty, sandy, ultra competitive volleyball games come flooding into my head. I think of shot-gunning beers with my feet submerged in wet sand (of course, thanks to a few inconsiderate, selfish partyers, my memories of drinking on the beach at Folly are dwindling). I think of the calluses still on the bottoms of my feet, a result of trying to toughen myself walking from my car to the beach barefoot in mid-summer. I think of the bathwater-warm ocean and its satisfying salt. Most of all, I think of Folly as Summer Sanctuary, and until this past weekend, I didn’t even know Folly Beach existed in the winter.
“Man this is getting ridiculous,” I told my roommate on Sunday, referring to the Seattle Seahawks’ record-setting 58-0 trouncing of the Arizona Cardinals.
It was time for a change of scenery. Perhaps it was the pollutants that made me come up with such an outlandish suggestion as, “let’s hit up Folly man.”
An equally polluted roommate agreed to go, and we were off.
I’m not sure why, but we were in outstandingly good moods—laughing at things like very heavy Folly road traffic and erratic drivers, things that would normally spark my New Jersey-like road rage. (I’m not from Jersey, but love driving there because flipping off people is about as common as a courtesy wave.)
For the damn-near 60 minutes it took to get out to Folly, the laughter never broke once. Not that you would think our crude, guy humor is funny, but if my roommate’s mom is hot, she's hot. There’s nothing he can do about it, and I take great pride in reminding him of that. If anything, he should be happy because he was blessed with such outstandingly hot genes.
But I digress. By the time we got out to Folly, the weekend parade had come to an end, but there were still hoards of folks lingering at the open-air market. It was kind of a madhouse, but in a good way. As we were walking into the market, an elderly couple (I wish I could remember their names) stopped us to offer up some homemade jelly. I tried the one I thought would give my taste buds the biggest rollercoaster: the minced garlic jelly. “Holy Hell this stuff is good!” I told the jelly-making couple.
With our munchies momentarily satisfied, we continued on. The market was mostly populated with preoccupied parents and trouble-seeking children. One girl was trying to find a way inside the humongous fake Christmas tree that was at he center of the market. She seemed to be struggling, so I showed her that if she were to just lift up these electric cables she could easily maneuver her way into what would be the ultimate hideout inside the tree. Unfortunately, her mom caught us and scolded the little girl and looked at me with a “What the hell is wrong with you?” face.
We continued walking around the market, but were suddenly halted dead in our tracks. There, promising greedy 11-year-olds presents, sat the Folly Beach Santa Claus. It’s funny, but I think the Hollywood flick Bad Santa, where Billy Bob Thornton plays an alcoholic Santa, sort of gave these guys who dress up in Santa costumes once a year and allow hundreds of children to sit on their laps and beg for gifts they probably don’t deserve, a bad rep. I’m sure they’re not all alcoholics. That said, Folly Beach Santa was most definitely drunk. “It’s almost like a rule,” my roommate said. “If you play Santa, you have to be drunk.” I agreed, siding with the drunken Santa, reasoning that if you have to put up with children badgering you for 10 straight hours, you’d better be drunk.
After the market, we ventured over to Rita’s for drinks and food. The restaurant had an interesting mixture of locals, semi-locals (Charleston residents who ventured out to Folly for the parade), and high school cheerleaders and their families all enjoying the bar's indoor-outdoor atmosphere. We sat at the bar and ordered a round of Bloody Marys and heaping plates of chicken nachos—I was back in my element.
What I realized sitting at that bar was that the genuine funky Folly feel had not abandoned the seaside town with the summer weather. Granted, tank tops were traded for fleeces, but the bigger picture remains. The same sorts of people still drank. They still laughed. And they still chatted endlessly about the upcoming week’s surf forecast.
That evening I drove back downtown reminiscing, and thinking that maybe Folly Beach might not be too terrible of a place for a retired writer to spend his days.
There’s certainly no shortage of beer there.
Photo: Folly Beach Now