Planning this year’s beach trip reminded me of last year’s beach trip when I firmly believe I was stereotyped one night in an elevator. It was Labor Day weekend at Panama City Beach and there were plenty of people frolicking around in swimsuits. That’s the funny thing about swimsuits…nobody notices them when everybody has them on – unless you are one of those people who goes to the beach specifically to see swimsuits. In fact it would be odd out on the beach to see someone skipping along the sand in jeans with waves lapping at their cowboy boots, just as it would be somewhat out of place – although I’ve seen worse – to see someone browsing through the produce aisle at Piggly Wiggly wearing a bikini. But back to Panama City, I had decided I just wasn’t going to tell anyone…other than Justin, whose response was based on wisdom he received from a boyhood spent in Covington County, “Well baby, look around…I guess they knew where they were coming when they made reservations too.” Up until then the day had been going swimmingly well. The calm gulf waters that morning were as clear as I had ever seen them. We swam until it got hot enough to chase all the redheaded fair skins inside. It was an easy afternoon of shopping and napping followed by a seafood supper. Then, as is tradition for many, we set out to chase sand crabs along the shoreline. We scoop them up and put them in colorful sand buckets for reasons we can’t explain. We keep them only as long as we play then let them scatter free. We had made it down as far the lobby, in this family oriented retreat situated directly on the sand, when I realized I had forgotten my crab light. If you are not familiar with a crab light, it is a flashlight of sorts attached to a cord that can be worn around your neck. It shines the sand and allows your hands to be free so you can run and pounce. You can’t very well hunt crabs without it, so rather than the entire Walker clan loading back up on the elevator again, I scooted back alone to retrieve the light. And that is when a small miracle happened. The calm day had turned into a breezy night and I felt cold. Along with the light I grabbed a light robe that falls just above the knee. It is in a nice Alabama Crimson Tide pattern and I am certain this added to the stereotyping. But that robe saved me. Without it, if I had been in just that black bikini I wear because I don’t know how many good summers I have left, I might have evaporated of embarrassment. I arrived back at the elevator at the same exact time as a woman who was sporting a full headscarf and burka. She, of course, was with a man and I have never felt more exposed. But what was I supposed to do? I didn’t want them to be uncomfortable nor did I want to seem rude. So down we rode together, quietly, the three of us, me checking out my toes with a flashlight shining around my neck. I didn’t ask where they were from or where they were going. I don’t think they were headed over Club La Vela to dance. And they didn’t ask me where I was from or what I was doing either. But just before I darted from the elevator, I looked directly in her eyes and I think she was grinning. I just know she thought I was a typical crazy redhead from Alabama.