Those of you who are familiar with my early life know that I am no stranger to water sports.
Not only did I teach myself swimming (and fancied myself a very good swim instructor), but I also invented something that is today called swimming “flippers,” to help along our comical human attempts at propulsion by imitating the bodies of fish or amphibians.
By the way, I am sure many of you are no doubt chuckling at the thought of me, in full 18th century garb, ruffled collar and all, spending a day at the beach. I will admit, a day at the seaside is another one of those discoveries of the future that I'm now quite fond of. And fret not, I am not so totally captive to my Puritan upbringing that I can not shed a few articles of clothing for the greater good.
What I do find fascinating is the immense popularity of this form of recreation. In my day, beaches were not a major commercial enterprise (nor did they boast such huge, artificially-created sandy fields, except in such natural environments as a desert). We did not have hundreds or thousands of people flocking to these sand fields, nor did we have all the various merchants and vendors ringing the outskirts, selling everything from towels to tacos, beverages to beach balls.
Down the shore? At the shore?
One question that is puzzling me, however, is what many people call this diversion. For those in the greater Philadelphia and New Jersey area, the most common term is “going down the shore.” (I do not know what it is called in Boston in these modern times; I suspect that the transplanted New Jersey residents there may also be trying to advocate for “down the shore,” but we shall see how fruitful that effort is among the New England yankees).
My own understanding of the King's English is that there appears to be a missing preposition in this popular expression. How, when, and why it was dropped, no one seems to know. And when it comes to the evolution of this new American “English,” given the natural persistence (some might call it stubbornness) of a commonly-held belief, I do not have any measure of hope that there will ever be a return to the proper grammatical form.
Now, if you will excuse me, I feel I need to join the multitudes, and, as you say in 2013, “cop some rays.”
Your humble servant,