For What it’s Worth

June 21, 2018

Beach Season 2018 is on officially for two reasons: Summer Solstice and we had a quorum at Beach Club. The current proposals and plans for BC’18 are not available to the public. Sorry.

Ella–who’s 13 and therefore has boundless energy– did the most brilliant thing ever. She built a four person reclining couch with headrests in the sand. I would have included a photo but there didn’t seem to be a graceful way of moving out of my sandy La-Z-Boy to get my phone other than clawing myself out.

A theme emerged during our stay, for me at least. I observed. Read: eavesdropped on mind-blowing yet dated, pedestrian dialogue. The general topic would be adolescent transactional interactions by class.


Thorin & Aunt Betty

While we– Betty, Thorin, Ella and me– were eating at the picnic tables next to the food truck the surf camp kids arrived for lunch. They looked like a tribe of lanky, fit Caucasian adolescents with gleaming hair and beautiful teeth. Our favorite beach is in a coastal suburban area that most of us drive 20 minutes to from Portland.

At first I genuinely happened to observe a young Andrew McCarthy rich kid character and his friend an equally young but not rich— blond Keanu Reeves. I can’t believe no one thought of that movie combo in the 80’s!

I had a ringside seat to this Andrew dropping his change. The coins fell somewhere in between the slats on the walkway. At first he leans down to retrieve them, then thinks better of it.

“Forget it, right? It’s not like it’s my money,” he says to Keanu.

Correct me if I’m wrong but did Ryan O’Neal say this in the TV show Peyton Place to the trampy girl and later on to Redmond?

Keanu’s response is a mumble — so Keanu, right?

“Can I get it? I don’t have enough.”

Andrew is shocked. Yet his response to the request is to immediately start fanning a handful of one’s in front of Keanu’s face, “How much?”

Has he always waited for a moment like this, knowing his quick reply? Has he been to a strip club? Is that from a movie? Please be imitative behavior and not the fact you like making people feel small.

After Keanu squirms for a second more Andrew becames buddy-buddy again but now with power. He presses bills on Keanu reassuringly. Scratch Andrew McCarthy he’s 1980’s Alec Baldwin.

It is becoming increasingly more difficult to follow the conversation at my table and keep up on the action around me.

I can hear two boys behind us– I crane my neck and look into the sun haloing their encounter and burning my retinas.

I quickly go with an audio version. This situation is similar to the previous. Except the scene is played differently from the get go. The kid with money says, “I’ll pay for yours.”

“You don’t have to do that again.”

The other kid says nothing. Is he saying, case closed? It’s not a big deal? Think of it as a date! Whatever it was didn’t sound demeaning. It sounded rational. The boys moved on in conversation and when the time came he did pay for his friend.

I wondered if the camp had a scholarship program. There were at least two have-nots. In general it had to be costly to send your kid or maybe more than one kid to surf camp particularly one lead by a real Adrian Zmed type.

I started to feel like I was watching a 1980’s local public access production from Vermont — put together by parents worried about their more businesses minded children. Sudden thought– is that how Family Ties was conceived?

I briefly joined in the talk at my table about how many fries come in an order. They hand out freakishly large portions of superbly delicious fries. And, yes, the worst possible food to eat.

But that’s what the pagan god demands on solstice. My gratitude is rudely interrupted by a angry sounding girl at the table next to us, “You owe everyone at this table money!”

The four girls had veils of gold hair. It’s clear though who she’s calling out. The bullied girl’s head was hung.


Her head still bowed, she offered, “I can have money next Monday or Tuesday.”

Who’s writing this truly painful but hackneyed dialogue?

There’s murmuring from the others to not worry about it at all. Then one of them said in just the best Bette Davis hiss, “Bethany!”

It was enough for the girl to raise her head again.


The popularity of the name Bethany peaked in 1996. It means daughter of the Lord.


This entry was posted in Down syndrome by Kari Wagner-Peck. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kari Wagner-Peck

Kari Wagner-Peck lives with her husband and son in Maine. She is a writer & storyteller who home schools with her son. She is the author of the memoir Not Always Happy: An Unusual Parenting Journey, May, 2017, Central Recovery Press. She has been published at CNN, Psychology Today online, The New York Times Well Family blog, The Huffington Post, The The Good Men Project, The Sydney Morning Herald Daily Life blog, BLOOM and Love That Max among others. Author page: Twitter @KariWagnerPeck and Facebook: Email:

6 thoughts on “For What it’s Worth

  1. Each moment is a moment of truth, eh?
    How heavy money weighs on our development.
    And the ears that document. Very interesting…I wonder where these characters now wormed into your psyche, will appear again.

    • The next day another group appeared. And more of the same about big houses and the bigger houses– and who’s paying for lunch? Oh but you meant fiction, right? :)

    • Maybe! I was the kid without the money grateful for the kid who didn’t make me feel bad:) I just love that song, too!

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