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Columns

February 24, 2009

Travels with Uncle Chet: Seeking a break from bad news

``I'm tired of winter,'' said Alice, looking outside as the sun died slowly in a gray sky, and snow began to pelt her windshield.

``Nice in here,'' said Uncle Chet, in the rocker by the fire, reading the paper.

``Yes, but it's out there I'm talking about,'' said Alice. ``I'm tired of driving in it, shoveling it, worrying about it. I'd like to wake up at the beach tomorrow in the middle of July.''

``Me too!'' said our Web princess, who's angling for a Sweet 16 party, whatever that is.

``Me too,'' said her 8-year-old brother.

``I took the kids to Beach Haven in the early '90s and it was one of the best things I ever did,'' said Alice. ``They still talk about it.''

``Where is that?'' asked Hon as she brought out chips and salsa.

``Long Beach Island. Off the Jersey shore,'' said Alice. 'It's about a six-hour ride.''

``I was there once,'' I said, serving glasses of beer and iced tea.

``When?'' asked Alice.

``In college.'' I sat down.``My roommate's family rented a place.''

``Did you like it?''

``It was great. And when I was a kid, my parents took us to the Connecticut shore.''

``You know,'' said Alice,``I was thinking it might be fun if we all rented a cottage at the ocean this summer.''

``Go to the beach?'' asked Buddy.

``Absolutely,'' said the Web princess, who was instant-messaging on the laptop. ``May I bring a friend?''

``We're in a depression,'' said Uncle Chet. ``Millions of people are losing their jobs, their retirements, hyperinflation is right around the corner and you want to go to the beach?''

``We'd better go now, if hyperinflation's right around the corner,'' said Alice.

``She's got you there.'' I looked past him out where the pines were bending in the breeze and snow piles hemmed in the driveway.

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