In Rehoboth this summer, it's not any one "thing." It's a fusion of things that makes for a scorching beach look. Today's beach boy or babe is a playful amalgam of hippie, biker, rapper, surfer, jock and South Park.

Here, all trends merge, cross-pollinate, morph.

It's Rehoboth, the self-professed "family town," via "We Are the World." It takes a village. It takes a Village People. It's the Grateful Dead by way of Puff Daddy. Brian Wilson crossed with an aging Harley road gang.

Tie-dye, provocatively placed tattoos (permanent or temporary), an attitude, oodles of beads, over-sized plastic gems that blink when you press them, hemp hair wraps, multiple piercings, bra straps peeking from tank tops, porkpie hats with your favorite team logo, mesh bags, towering platform sandals and high-heel sneakers. Sure, you can find these hot things anywhere -- Peoria, Duluth, whatever. But on the boardwalk, excessiveness, fun and a certain gleeful abandon give expression to a hybrid, over-the-top style. Life is supersaturated with salt water, sun, costuming possibilities.

Here, you can do it all, and it's all OK, because it's the beach and the beach is about letting loose. It's "just pretend" until school starts. About those laser pointers. They're hot, too. But they're as annoying as Dennis Rodman on a bad hair day. Lasers don't go with the look. They're not laid back, but aggressive and aggressively silly. Lay down your laser pointers, boys and girls. Stick with the happy faces, the toe rings, the dancing bears.

Don't point, be happy.

Originally published Aug. 29, 1998