No lifeguard on duty...

Like most things worth doing, this activity was borne from of a wave of spontaneity cutting across a vast sea of ennui--metaphorically speaking. Sitting at home late one Thursday night, bored, we had a single question on our minds: “What is there to do?”

“Let’s build a treehouse!” “Let’s do a scavenger hunt!” “Let’s steal a tricycle!”

And then, finally, the winner: “Let’s go swimming in the ocean!” although we quickly considered our geography and settled for the Gulf.

Our first expedition led us with two friends to Pass-a-Grille Beach. We arrived just around midnight more out of coincidence than by design. Ted and I had pilfered two extremely plush bathrobes from the closet of the house we’re housesitting this summer, and these are what we wore to the water’s edge.

The rest is pretty simple—just get in the water and enjoy yourself. Be loud. Gaze at the stars. Try out your backstroke. Shuffle for stingrays. Practice your Spanish by yelling over to Mexico. Play Marco Polo. Consider swimming to Corpus Christi seriously as an option. Convince your friends that you just brushed up against a shark.

We embarked on a similar journey two nights later, only this time to the beach behind the Thunderbird Hotel. Compared to Pass-a-Grille, this place had its cons.

Con: While we didn’t really mind crossing the streets of Treasure Island in only a bathrobe, some people might—both doing it and witnessing it. Pass-a-Grille has more direct parking.

Con: Pass-a-Grille doesn’t seem to have fierce-looking SUVs patrolling the beach with blinding headlights. One of these security details must’ve driven past us three or four times behind the Thunderbird, and it was weird because there was no way the driver didn’t see us after shining his retina-burners directly on our splashing selves. We just played it cool, and he or she drove away. But it wasn’t the most calming experience, and who knows—next time we (or you) may not be so lucky.

There was one thing that the Thunderbird beach did have going for it, however. At Pass-a-Grille, we didn’t have the pleasure of meeting and posing for pictures taken by two newlywed couples who had come to the beach to find that elusive little thing called Romance. One had gotten married a few weeks previous; the other had gotten married just the day before! “Yeah, it was pretty much the most spontaneous thing we’ve ever done,” the bride chuckled.

So whether you try Treasure Island or Pass-a-Grille or some other sandy stretch, take a lead from the newlyweds—be spontaneous. Go jump in the Gulf late at night and revel in the realization of how big this world is, and just how insignificant you are.

--Brian Reed

What: Go for a midnight swim.

Where: The Gulf of Mexico

Must-Do? Says Who? Marine creatures.

Casualties: Some would say the possibility of attack by shark or stingray. I say that’s a small price to pay for Gulf glory.

Dress Code: Monogrammed bathrobe. But with somebody else’s initials. Meaning it’s not your bathrobe. Meaning you stole it.

Some people will probably make fun of us. Most twenty-somethings try to do something overtly social in the evenings and on weekends especially, often times catalyzed by alcohol: bars, clubs, restaurants, parties. Standard fare. Some people might call us weird, or even worse, Losers with a capital “L” and a thumb-and-forefinger symbol on the forehead.

I don’t care. Taking a midnight dip in the Gulf is arguably the most fun you can have with or without your clothes on.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.