Anyhow, I realized in the moment of picking up these simple paddles that I was really slipping into a moment from a different time, as someone much younger who was getting increasingly excited to drive down south for a week at the beach. My wife, who spent those same formative years back in China, could not understand why I wanted to drop six dollars on such a seemingly wasteful set of plastic paddles. But I had my reasons - this was a classic accompaniment to the beach of my childhood, with the requisite shovels and turret-shaped buckets that were standard-issue beach gear for the kids of northern families. And we are re-living those days when we pack up to join my parents and siblings for a "reunion-style" family summer vacation in Hilton Head in a couple of weeks. 25 years later, no longer kids (partners were never in the picture for fifth graders), but feeling like children again in recreating the simple times of those annual pilgrimages to the sea.
In the end, my wife broke down and allowed me my toy for the day. But that would be it - she would not allow me to throw a Kadima set in the shopping cart (another piece of standard-issue beach gear and incidentally a famous Israeli and Italian beach sport), as she could not get around the idea of blowing another six dollars on a different paddle game.