"Book World" showed up in the Washington Post on Sunday, and along with the reviews there was an amusing feature that offered authors’ thoughts on which fictional character they would choose to accompany them at a day at the beach.
Of course I had to think about who I might choose. My immediate choice was Rhett Butler, who, since it’s my fantasy day at the beach, would have to spend the day gazing at me the way he gazed at Scarlett the first time he saw her coming down the staircase.
Or, it might be fun to invite Winnie-the-Pooh along, since his need for snacks and “a spot of something” would ensure that I’d have a companion while eating my Thrasher’s fries and Grotto pizza (I guess I’m at Rehoboth Beach in Delaware).
Nancy Drew could drive us over that scary Chesapeake Bay Bridge in her roadster, and though she might be a little annoying for a whole day, it would be fun to solve a real mystery: The Missing Salt Water Taffy Stand Clerk.
Heathcliff could be sort of sexy, but he’d natter on about Cathy all day, and who needs that?
I asked Steve who he would invite, and he thought Huck Finn might be fun (though I suspect he’d probably run off to scam tourists on the boardwalk), or that it might be interesting to hear Johnny Tremain’s Revolutionary War stories. Santiago from The Old Man and the Sea would be an inspired choice, although we worried about the language barrier. (In a side conversation, Steve thought Hemingway’s Nick Adams would clearly be the best choice to come along with you at summer camp.) In the end, though, he decided on Jordan Baker from The Great Gatsby (his secret crush)
And in the end, I settled on any of the characters from a Laurie Colwin novel: they are a smart, funny, New Yorky crew, and they’re always eating great food, so I assume they’d pack along a fabulous picnic with some good wine, and still be willing to check out the food on the boardwalk. Their problems are mostly relationship-based and domestic, the kind you can work over peacefully, while lounging away the day under umbrellas, making witty remarks about the passing scene, all the while knowing there is no better place to be than where you are right now. Plus, after having such a lovely day with me, I’m sure they’d invite me to visit them in New York City!