Diet Coke

Unforgettable Hot Nights. At the Beach.

I hate going to the beach. I love looking at the beach but despise sitting there…hanging out there…and most definitely, the mere thought of LIVING there.

Why? A beach is sandy. Dirty. Hot. Sweaty. Often bug-gy. And you have to lug insane amounts of stuff to be able to subsist there for a day. Or two. Especially when you have too many children like I do.

But the definition of ‘mother’ is ‘One who endures unpleasant experiences for and on behalf of one’s offspring.‘ Like childbirth, poop, vomit, bloody boob breastfeeding and sullen looks from sullen teenagers.

And camping at the beach.

Big Son came home for midterm break from Uni so the family voted to spend Easter weekend at Tafatafa Beach. We packed lots of gear, with extra Diet Coke so I could be nicer and patient’er. And set off on a grand adventure.

To my surprise, the first ten hours were glorious. We met up with awesome friends who were also camping for the weekend. There was much laughter, conversation, consuming of assorted snacks, BBQ and drink – all while relaxing in the shade under the swaying palm trees.

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The demons swam, kayaked, dug holes, built castles, played soccer and tried fishing.  It was a most enjoyable day. When night fell, we made a bonfire so the demons could toast marshmallows and then they played games and told stories in one of the fale’s. It was a most enjoyable evening watching the sun set over a silken blue-black sea.

Wow, this beach thing is actually fun! Maybe I am a camper after all.

 And then it was time to go to sleep. On a foam mattresses on the ground in an open fale, in a mosquito net, with the sound of the ocean right outside. The tide was up and so waves were washing the steps of our fale. The children were exhausted and so they went straight to sleep, dreaming happy dreams of sandcastles, fish and water fights. The Hot Man was exhausted and he went right to sleep. Everybody was tired and everybody went to sleep.

Except for me.

I couldn’t sleep because of the sand in my bed, the sly ninja mosquitos that had made it into my mosquito net and the BLASTED SOUND OF THE OCEAN right outside our fale. That ocean just wouldn’t shut up. Waves kept coming in, making swishing sounds, running out and then swishing back in again. Then a dog sleeping under the fale added to the symphony with growls and snarls at invisible things. Then it started raining and it beat down on the tin roof, making an awful racket. And I was swatting at mosquitos, sweeping away sand, muttering at the dog to GET LOST, and trying to ignore the noisy ocean.

This is why you hate the beach, remember?!

At 3am, I was still awake. Miserable. I woke up the Hot Man.  “I have an idea.”

He was not happy about being woken up. “What?”

“Why don’t we go home?” I said. Hopeful and artificially cheerful.

“Yeah, we’re going home tomorrow.”

“No, I mean – let’s pack up and all go home right now.”

That woke him up for sure. “Are you out of your mind?! It’s three in the morning. It’s raining out there. We cant pack up in the rain. And everyone’s asleep.” He tried not to hiss too loudly at me.

“But I’m not asleep,” I pointed out. Helpfully. “I cant’ sleep in these conditions. I’m miserable. I want to go home.”

The man didn’t bother replying. He went back to sleep instead. Leaving me to count waves and mosquito bites and dog growls – all by myself. Hatefully. Miserably.

The next morning was glorious. The sun came up, the rain went away and we made pancakes and bacon for breakfast. The children swam and fished and kayaked. I chatted and laughed and consumed snacks with awesome friends. The beach was bearable again.

Until the moment of dread came. The cooler of ice and Diet Coke ran out. It was time to pack up and go home – where I had a newfound appreciation for my bed (with no sand in it), my bedroom ( with no mosquitoes in it), my house (with no growly dog underneath it), and the peacefulness of our mountainside home (with no noisy ocean washing the damn steps all night).

Maybe that’s the true beauty of going camping? – It makes you more grateful for your cave, no matter how messy or small or crowded.

What did I learn from this?

1. Tafatafa Beach is glorious. Clean, safe, golden sand, great bathroom facilities, excellent water supply and nice fale’s to stay in. If you want to spend the day or night at a beach, then I highly recommend you go there. I give it FIVE stars for beach fale fabulousness.

2. If you don’t like sleeping to the luxurious lilting sounds of the ocean? Then don’t go camping at a beach fale resort. Same goes for…if you don’t like sand…and stray mosquitos… Stay home and have no adventures. (just read about other people’s crazy adventures)

3. If you’re planning a beach camp, definitely go with friends. Especially friends with children the same age as yours so they can play all day and have a blast – without your input. Leaving you free to chat, read, sleep, fish and drink. Without our fabulous friends, I would have called it quits waaaay before 3am. I would have insisted on packing up by lunchtime. Thank you Daniel and Hanah, Mark and Luisa AND fabulous children. You rock!

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The front view from our fale.

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I want to stab someone.

So if you’ve read any of my books, or more than one of my blogs, or you have the misfortune to be friends with me on Facebook – then you know I have a soul-wedded affinity with Diet Coke. As in I drink too much of it and write too much about it. As in, I really think that the makers of Diet Coke should pay me sponsorship money because I talk about it so often. (Or they could at least send me a few free crates of the stuff…)

No, I don’t drink it because I’m on a diet.  I drink it because it tastes good, isn’t too sweet, kickstarts my brain and generally makes me happy.

BUT, I am well aware that it’s bad for me. And many kind and thoughtful readers and blog supporters have sent me horribly informative articles that explain in disgusting detail, just why Diet Coke is so bad for me.

So with that in mind, I decided to quit. Because Im getting old and I want to be reasonably healthy as I creep into my senior years…And because the Hot Man is a freakin Ironman MACHINE with all his biking and swimming and running everywhere. It’s rather irritating actually just how dedicated he is to the whole endeavour. Especially if you’re just sitting here eating donuts while he runs and bikes and swims his Iron self everywhere. I mean, when we’re eighty I wont be able to count on him to help me cart my oxygen tank around because he will off swimming somewhere and my mobility scooter wont go fast enough to keep up with his bike. #SoSad.

So with better health in mind, I made quitting Diet Coke the first item on my checklist. After that I’m supposed to tackle replacing Twinkies and other chemically baked goods – with broccoli and carrots. Then, I’m going to learn how to ride a bike so I can be the Hot Man’s mobile water girl. (That way I can go back to Hawaii in the foreseeable future because his dream is to do the Kona Ironman and he will need a support crew, right? And who better to support him than his Diet Coke-clean and donut-free wife?!!)

That was the plan anyway. I quit six days ago. The first  48 hours were so painful. All I could think about was how much I wanted to kill people. By running them over with a truck filled with Diet Coke. (And lots of ice.)

Day three was better. I found that by watching non-stop episodes of the Walking Dead, I could distract myself from visions of popping open the lid of a chilled can…the way the bubbles would fizz and hiss as you pour the liquid over a stack of ice…the sweet satisfaction of that hit as caffeine and aspartame floods the system…oh the joy…the bliss. No, I wasn’t missing it at all. I had hope I would make it.

Day four I had a headache. Like someone stomping through your head and kicking it with steel-capped boots. I decided to have JUST ONE can. But there was none in the house so I asked Big Son to go buy me some from the corner store. He refused. Because he’s very unkind. And then the teenagers proceeded to lecture me. “If you have a headache then take a Panadol. Stop behaving like a drug addict.”  I was not happy. When they went to bed, I contemplated sneaking out and going to buy some coke secretly. Only, it was 11pm and laziness was at war with caffeine withdrawal. Plus, I had a headache and what if I crashed the car? So then I thought about ordering pizza delivery…just so I could get them to bring me Coke. But then I remembered Dominos only has Pepsi. Heck no!

Day five I was saying mean things to random strangers everywhere. On Facebook, Twitter. And at the petrol station. Sometimes just in my head because I’m chicken like that. But generally, I was thinking bad thoughts about everybody and everything.  I wanted to stab people. Especially if they were drinking Diet Coke.

And today? I bought a can . And drank it with lots of ice. And I was happy. High and floating in a blissful peaceful zen-like state.

I will try again tomorrow to quit. I promise. Or maybe quitting donuts and Twinkies would be easier place to start?