Bashing the Beach

by Kerry Dougherty

I love Virginia Beach. This cul-de-sac by the sea has been home since 1984.

We locals might complain about the place — greedy developers, corrupt politicians, no waves — but we don’t much like elitist outsiders blowing into town and bashing us after they leave.

And that’s just what one man did when he penned a hit piece on the Resort City this week for Forbes.

Why Forbes published this drivel is a mystery. I suspect it fit a certain narrative.

The story was headlined “A Trip To Virginia Beach Showed Why We Aren’t Beating This Virus,” but a more accurate header would have been “Rich Guy Visits Virginia Beach And Spends Entire Trip Counting Masks.”

The author launched his diatribe this way (boldface is mine):

CV101 started when we parked near the beach. We donned our masks and stepped out of the car, and immediately noticed that almost no one else was wearing a mask. Now, it was a sunny and warm day and we didn’t see big crowds or lack of reasonable distancing. But coming from the DC Metro where wearing a mask is the norm and not wearing mask is likely to get you accosted, this was surprising to us.

In other words, writer Ben Baldanza and his family were horrified to spy folks wandering around outside unmasked.

You know what we call it down here when you’re wearing a mask outdoors with no one else around? Virtue signaling. Or stupid.

After checking into the most expensive hotel in town — The Cavalier — the out-of-towners ventured to the boardwalk.

Ooooh. Scary.

For those who may not know, the Virginia Beach boardwalk is a three-mile wide paved path for walkers with a parallel path for bicycle riders. Look to one side and see the beach and ocean, and the other side to see all kinds of commerce including restaurants, shops, and hotels. As we strolled on the boardwalk, it was shocking to see almost zero mask wearing by people who could not reasonably be claiming to exercise. … We spent less time than we had hoped on the boardwalk largely because we did not feel comfortable enough to continue.

Where to begin? There’s so much amiss here.

Let’s start with the glaring factual error. The boardwalk is three miles long, not wide. Perhaps an inability to gauge distance comes from living in those soulless Northern Virginia ant colonies where every block looks like every other.

The author and his kin were “shocked” to see maskless people on that lovely 28-foot-wide promenade who “were not exercising.”

What the hell? This man is clearly confused. The governor’s mandate requires masks indoors. Shoot, Ralph Northam himself was prancing maskless down the boardwalk this spring, leaning in for selfies and not even pretending to social distance.

This screed filled with relentless crankiness went on to list every place this writer or his wife spied bare-faced people.

Gosh, what a fabulous vacation. Spending what may have been thousands of dollars to count masks.

The author blathered on about “oblivious people” in Virginia Beach. And here’s the money shot:

Yet this behavior is why the virus is not contained and likely won’t be, why our kids can’t safely go to school in a few weeks, and why the economy will stay mired in a quagmire.

Someone tell this guy that the reason his kids aren’t back in public school this fall is because militant teachers’ unions in Northern Virginia chose to ignore the advice of the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics to reopen. Instead they threw tantrums and demanded that the schools stay closed until there’s a vaccine.

Don’t blame us for THAT.

Here’s what I see every day in Virginia Beach: Nearly 100% compliance with the mask mandate. Go to Kroger, Walmart, Home Depot, CVS or the dry cleaners and you’ll notice that virtually everyone is wearing a mask.

No, we don’t walk around like idiots outside sporting face coverings in the sunshine when the temperature hovers around 100. That’s because, while we may not have NoVa money, we’re rich in common sense.

Here’s a thought: If your idea of a terrific getaway is to stew in traffic and get “accosted” if you dare to bare your face in public, visit Northern Virginia.

If, on the other hand, you want to relax, enjoy the beach and stroll the boardwalk without getting the stink eye because you’re not wearing a mask outside, come to Virginia Beach.

But do us a favor: Leave your uptight Northern Virginia attitude at home.

This column was republished by permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.

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