Photo by Zachari George (author)

To All the Gulls Who’ve Gone Before

You’ll be back!

I love the beach. Any time I can break away to one, I do. Someone once said life’s a beach. I don’t know where they came up with that, but I’d like to ask them to carefully establish their logic and we can have a discussion.

I primarily go to the beach to relax, to hear the water and land converse, people watch, and swim. My son hasn’t learned to swim yet, though he’s trying. You can’t drag him out of the water, but you can ask him politely and he listens.

We were at the beach for the holiday weekend. This particular beach is on Lake Michigan and features large dunes. We like to climb up them for their vistas and views of Chicago’s skyline. We also see tons of gulls.

Today was no exception, gulls flitted and floated, dove and hovered. We love to hear their calls. Idyllic scene aside, and largely due to my weird brain, I began reflecting on my most recently published video. In the video, I discussed the possibilities of developing better emotional intimacy by challenging viewers to try dating someone for ninety days without sleeping together. Then they should report back on their results.

It also got me thinking about many of my dating misadventures, my personal 90-day challenges, and oddly enough, all those who got away. Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias’s “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” started playing in the jukebox that is my head. I’m not a big fan of country, yet this song was frequently on my Dad’s radio in his shed or in his ’73 Blazer when I was growing up. Like lots of other sappy yet catchy songs, it got stuck there and will probably play as I’m drawing my last breaths, sadly. But what divinely dorky inspiration should be questioned?

Suddenly it dawned on me- and a cheesy grin crossed my face as I watched the winged scavengers in the distance. Title, subject, comedy. It had to happen. A story based on true events, and real people.

To tell you all of my dating misadventures, I’d have to go back a long time. I’d have to give you context and elaborate on so many things that I might create a novel in the process. Maybe it’s in the works. Instead, let’s have some fun in this story with analogy at my own expense.

On the real-life beach, gulls are always lurking nearby. They love the sun, dead fish, trash, and your leftovers, and every once in a while you can fool them with a rock. They’re so gluttonous it seems they’ll never go away. Hoards of them swarming about, pecking at each other, and wailing up a storm.

In a parallel universe, life is a beach, and dating girls is watching the gulls. Some Brits refer to women as “birds”, so gull isn’t much of a stretch.

Gulls strut. Gulls just want to have fun. Gulls swoop, gulls eat, gulls fly off and gulls most certainly poop, usually where we wish they wouldn’t. Just ask Johnny Depp. Then again, Johnny never truly left his Jack Sparrow character, (and Jack likely has a gull for a pet somewhere, so maybe don’t ask him). Not every gull gets a bidet.

Why do gulls act this way?

Let’s get all naturalist-like and study some gull behaviors to see if we can come to any conclusions.

Groups of gulls populate the beach and scurry around. Each day is a challenge for a gull because there are so many of them and so few natural, long-term food sources, what with all the tourists wandering around dispensing Cheetos, half-chewed tortas, and cigarette butts. Gulls have tough winters we can observe. Most gulls settle down when it gets cold, that’s where we get the term cuffing season. I think someone just got “puffin season” wrong and it spread through a global game of telephone.

But let’s talk about material gulls. These gulls gather in flocks around their prizes. Spitting out anything that doesn’t fit their discerning palates. If you have the most food, or the most interesting food, you likely have the largest group of gulls by you, and they are less likely to stray, just in case someone starts throwing caviar around again. They are looking for the Gullden Goose.

Then there are the gulls who want to keep it on the down-low. They lurk nervously outside the group. Countless numbers of them never really close in, too much commitment and risk. They’re happy being side gulls. You might call them side pieces, and that’s what they get. People’s attention is focused on what’s in front of them, which is why their partners never leave their dull gulls.

Some are just gullible and you see them getting pecked over and over again. They’ll believe anything they hear extravagant, smooth-talking stud gulls say. They don’t want any ordinary gull. Many of them follow the musicians and artists on the beach. These gulls need therapy to identify their patterns and choices.

A few select side-eyed peckers are Mogulls. They’re usually the ones seen displaying vulgar power- snapping and flapping at the larger group. They often get the largest share of the spoils. They have their exclusive nests on parts of the beach with gull-wing doors to protect them. These gulls have their own station, and you’re not going to gull anywhere with them. Their motto is “Gulls First.”

Lastly, you have the Bad Gulls. These eat anything, they have scars and Sharpie marking all over them, and will probably drink tequila if you set it down for them. Reckless abandon has these. They’ve been caged before, though never truly captured. They fly off easily, and they rarely stop squawking.

Of course, I can’t be completely objective here, I’m sure there are plenty of gull groups I’m missing, and they vary by location. Further field research is needed.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time on the beach. Flocks of seagulls, flocks of freshwater gulls, I gave it all a tern.

I’m not bitter, heartbroken, or crying tears in beers like Willie and Julio. I’m truly very happy about my discoveries and, if anything, more focused on my purpose as a result. There’s the rest of the beach here after all. If I just focused on gulls all the time, I wouldn’t get to enjoy the rest of it, and I’ve got lots of time.

Yet I’m still a little puzzled. Maybe that’s why I don’t have a gull friend. I prefer albatrosses anyway.

Check out my 90-Day Rule/Dating without sex challenge video on YouTube. Be a good gull and subscribe:



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Practically Social

Practically Social

Licensed clinical therapist and social worker. Host of the mildly edited Practically Social channel. Catalyst, deep diver, Dad.