In an interview on January 11, 2009 president-elect Barack Obama said Americans will have to sacrifice. “Everybody is going to have to give. Everybody is going to have to have some skin in the game,” he said. This “self-contributory” admonition is something that works for all aspects of life. From a job, business ownership or personal relationship, we all need to “put in” to “get out.”

While it is not known for sure, many think the phrase comes from Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice.” Where Shylock says that Antonio must promise a pound of his own flesh. Whether that is true or not, it makes as good a place to start as any.

Beaufort’s people have that kind of conviction for their town. No one would say their love is just skin deep. It goes further than that. This wonderful city, town, village, community or settlement by the sea, insert the word appropriate at the time in history, was founded in 1711. It’s the second oldest town in South Carolina. It is vibrant and ever growing.

Beaufort’s total area is 33.6 square miles, with 27.6 square miles of land. As of July 1, 2015 the City of Beaufort had a population of 12,991. Converting to acres, that’s 0.043 people per acre. For the sake of simplicity, lets round up to half a person for every beautiful Beaufort acre.

Permit me to take a side road, but I will be back, I promise.

Recently I got ready to take a shower. An aside: did anyone ever “take” a shower, or did anyone ever “jump” in the shower? Me neither. Anyway, there is a scale in the bathroom and as an after-thought I weighed myself. When I came out I did it again. Don’t know why, days go by without me doing that. I had lost 0.5 pound. A half pound! That might be understandable if I had been working in the yard all day, with shorts and no shirt, where my body was exposed to dirt. But, it was a day I did very little. Where did my half a pound of flesh go?  I checked it again a few days later and the loss was 0.40, virtually the same.

Back to Beaufort. If one person sheds half pound of skin a day, that’s 180 pounds per year, times the 0.5 folks per acre, that is dumping 90 pounds of skin on each of Beaufort’s “God’s Little Acre.” While there are no skin conversation tables, comparing other dry items, like sugar, rice or flour, 7 pounds of skin would equal about one gallon. So, that is 12.85 gallon buckets of skin per acre per year. In 305 years that is over 3,919 gallon jugs of skin!

And to add to that it is estimated there are over a million visitors to Beaufort each year. So, they are leaving behind 500,000 pounds of skin each day, or 71,428 gallons. The average length of stay is three days, which makes 214,284 gallons of skin per year! Spread over 27.6 acres, that’s 7,763.9 per acre left by visitors each year.

Converting it to cubic volume would be rather easy, but numbers tend to make ones eyes glaze over. And, it is getting a little gross to contemplate. Suffice it to say, the massive old oak trees, palm trees blowing in the breeze and those beautiful flowers one sees around Beaufort in the spring are growing in skin.

I’m feeling a little dirty, think I’ll go “jump” in the shower.

(In case there is even one reader who does not get it, this is satire, a joke. I have been an advocate for years on the fun activity of writing. One of the first responses is usually, “what would I write about?” I hope this has shown there are stories right in front of us. Or keep a journal. Wouldn’t all of us like to know what our grandmother was doing on a given day all those years ago? Do it for your grandkids. Please write, it really is fun! – Grey Brendle)


Grey Brendle is retired from a career in corporate banking and his own sales and marketing business. Over the past 15 years he has written regular columns for newspapers in the Southeast. He and his wife split their time in South Carolina between the Upstate and Beaufort.