Sand castles are dream real estate. When you build a sand castle, no matter how old you are, in your mind you populate it with your fantasies. Children litter it with princes and warrior monks. Grown-ups pepper it with Louis the XIV chaise lounges and five-car garages.
But there's more to building a sand castle than simply fantasizing about antiques. There's competition, the drive to build something other people will Facebook onto their YouTube tweets. You're not just building a sand castle; you're creating a legacy. Do it right.
You don't bring a knife to a gunfight and you don't bring cheap plastic shovels to the beach. Bring a real shovel because if you want your castle observed by NASA you need to pile up a lot of sand. Pile it up until your kids get scared.
Everybody does a castle. It's Mac & Cheese. Be different. Get ironic. Do the White House. Do Frodo's house. Do that tree from Avatar. Do living room furniture. Make a gigantic hot dog. Do a giant stapler with the legend: "I believe you have my stapler?"
Before hitting the beach, get a cheap plastic pool from Walmart and a cubic yard of sand from the landscaping store. Practice. Figure out which forms (a trash can or five-gallon bucket) will work. Those super-sized cokes from Mickey D's will work nicely.
Fill it up with water and keep that sand wet. As you pile it up, all the moisture that gives your sand its form is draining out the bottom and drying out in the sunlight. Keeping your masterpiece wet ensures durability and strength.
You don't need to, but nothing generates interest like CSI crime scene tape and some poles roping people off. They'll keep tabs on your work and at the end of the day, they'll be taking pictures of your legacy.
So the guy three umbrellas down the beach is furiously trying to beat you with a sculpture that's a half foot taller than yours. Here's how you beat him: Bring Kool-Aid packs. Lots of them. Spray some water on your minaret and shake that grape Kool-Aid all over it. He'll kick his own castle down.
When you're done, you want to claim that sucker. Cut a triangle out of an old T-shirt and have everyone sign their name with a Sharpie. Stick it on a stick, then stick it in the top of your creation.
Christopher lives in Chicago with his wife and kids and can also be found at deathbychildren.com.
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