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Random Thoughts While Drinking Banana Mamas by the Ocean on Vacation in Punta Cana

by on June 12, 2013 9:20 AM

I need to write more columns while drinking banana mamas by the ocean.

Shaving a playoff beard while on vacation adds another twist. People who met me with the beard are now commenting on which look they like better. Before that, it was people who knew me without the beard weighing in on which look they liked better. Regardless, I would have liked to keep it throughout vacation and shaved it after the Pens won the Cup. But, there’s always next year ...

Might next year be this year for my beloved Pirates?!? It sure feels like this team has the very real potential to at least reach the .500 mark and maybe even do something more magical. It might be the banana mamas talking but I am believing in the Pirates again.

Troubles that seem so large when in State College seem fairly insignificant when sitting by the vast ocean. I think perhaps all disputes and conflicts should be settled by the ocean. It is hard to be angry or confrontational on the beach.

When staying at a resort with people of many different nationalities, you start to realize we have in much more in common than we have differences.

The languages may be different but all of the parents keep the same sharp eye on their children and the children still love to play in the sand and have a fundamental interest in the waves that crash upon the beach. And we all seem to love to play games, whether it’s throwing a ball around, playing volleyball or bocce or horseshoes or board games of any type -- playing games is a wonderful way to spend time with old friends or make new ones.

It is amazing -- I mean truly incredible -- how many different swimsuits there are and how people wear them. Various lengths and colors and patterns -- some requiring amazing, intricate work, others seeming involving no more than a simple thread.

People who wear those suits exceptionally well or exceptionally poorly will be noticed and gawked at by the masses. We can’t help but look either way.

I have said before that sports play an important role in our society and the teams we follow can be a great conversation starter. There is a couple from Pittsburgh down here and we spent a good half hour dissecting the Penguins playoff run and ultimate demise against the Bruins.

Then, a Boston fan gave us her perspective and a Maple Leafs fan chimed in with the agonizing tale that Pirates fan know all too well. Thank you hockey, for giving us something to unite over, argue about and sympathize with. I don’t know what our conversation would have been had there been no season this year.

Laughter may be my favorite sound. Whether it’s kids laughing at the waves or a couple laughing out of sheer giddiness or a couple of buddies laughing at an inside joke or a group of people laughing at an unexpected occurrence -- it is a wonderful sound.

Whether it’s a little chuckle, an infectious guffaw or an unexpected snort -- laughter makes me smile. There seems to be more of it at the beach than anywhere else.

I am ready for football season to begin already. I realize it’s only June but when I was a kid, we’d vacation in July and I’d pour through the college football preview magazines while on vacation (this kids, was before the internet kept you updated on every team’s every move every day of the year).

So, my mind associates returning from vacation with preseason practices being just a couple of weeks away. It’s not the case, I realize, but I am still excited about the prospects for the upcoming season (high school, college and the NFL).

There is something about watching the sun rise and the sun set at the ocean that is at once invigorating and vibrant and humbling and awe-inspiring. It is impossible to not feel some motivation or inspiration and at the same to not understand and appreciate how insignificant each of us is in the overall picture.

I can’t help but contemplate the value and meaning of my life and reflect on the impact of so many others -- some of whom are no longer with us, some of whom I no longer stay in touch with and others who continue to make impressions on a daily basis.

Then I wonder how the Pirates are doing, when I’ll grow my next beard and if these banana mamas would taste nearly as delicious in State College.

I really do need to start writing more columns while drinking banana mamas at the beach.

Jeff Byers has been the wrestling team’s traveling announcer since 1990.
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