Meet the Fretters

You might remember Doug and Wendy Whiner from the TV show, Saturday Night Live. If you don’t, I’ve included a video at the end of this post. (Watch at your own risk. They make me want to pull out all my hair. Well… the hair I used to have.)


The Whiner’s English relatives sat near me on the beach today. Rupert and Emma Fretter and their two sons, Alfie and Oliver. At least those are the names I gave them. They’re much more posh than the Whiners and their voices are actually very pleasant — as long as you don’t listen to what they have to say. They could also be related to Debbie Downer. Below is their conversation. Truly.

First, Mr. Fretter and Son #1 (around 17) arrive.

Son 1: There’s a better spot.
Rupert: Well, I don’t know why it matters. Someone will just sit near us eventually.
Son 1: Well, that’s not the point is it.

They settle themselves down.

Rupert: It’s quite hot. Perhaps not a good day to be by the sea. I think perhaps the sun might be too bright.
Son 1: Couldn’t we cool in the water? If we wear our caps and sunglasses?
Rupert: Well, yes. I suppose there is that. But the water felt chilly.


At first, I was annoyed. There was quite a lot of negative energy floating in my direction. Then Mrs. Fretter and Son #2 (around 15) arrived and it became entertaining.

Emma: Is it not too hot?
Rupert: We’ve discussed that and think it might do.
Emma: Well, alright then.

Emma (to both sons): Make sure to use plenty of cream. 
Son 2: But I’d like some color.
Emma: Well, if you burn, it makes your skin fall off. And then you’ve lost it.

I think she meant you’ve lost the color if your skin falls off (i.e., peels). But perhaps she was simply confirming that if your skin falls off then you’ve lost your skin. I didn’t give it more thought because a vendor came by peddling drinks and ice cream. And, of course, Mr. Fretter had something to say about that.

Rupert: There he goes. He loses his soul and continues to go on doing as he does.
Son 1: Why does he lose his soul?
Rupert: Well, just look at him. Selling things no one wants. How could he not?


A very mild and pleasant breeze arrives. Others nearby sigh with delight.

Rupert: Well, it’s only warm air, isn’t it.
Son 2: How can I sit when the towel continually folds over in the wind?
Rupert: Perhaps you could place your chair on one end.
Son 1: Yes. I saw someone else do that when we arrived. It appeared to work.
Son 2: There’s sand on my towel. Every time I place it down, sand gets on it.
Rupert: It’s quite unpleasant.
Son 1: Will the umbrellas be alright in the wind?
Rupert: We’ll have to monitor them closely.

I have by this time turned onto my stomach, so I can surreptitiously watch the family. I’ve taken out my mobile and am keying in the conversation as it occurs. Mr. Fretter lies down on his own towel momentarily. He sits up and inspects his chest.

Rupert: Oh, this is uncomfortable. I don’t like wearing undigested cream.

He stands and fussily rubs at the cream.

Son 1: Shall we go in the water? 
Emma: Do you think it’s nice?
Rupert: I did try my feet when we arrived. If you get wet, the sand sticks to you.
Emma: Well, that doesn’t sound pleasant.
Rupert: Perhaps just our feet then.
Emma: Or a walk instead? I’ll not go, but you two might.
Son 1: If I leave my chair it might blow about.
Son 2: Fold it.
Son 1: Fold it?
Son 2: Flatten it.
Son 1: Oh, I see. Like we did to carry it here. Brilliant.

The chair folded, Mr. Fretter and Son #1 head off, but not without leaving one final instruction.

Rupert: Be sure to don’t let sand get in the bag while we’re gone. I don’t know what we might do if we should find it in our rooms.
Emma: Oh, of course. And do please be careful. There appear to be shells and stones at the water.
Son 1: It’s alright. We’re wearing our flip flops.
Emma: Still.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

29 thoughts on “Meet the Fretters”

  1. Oh, my! I wonder if they consider this a "relaxing" vacation. If it is, I sure don't want to be near them when they aren't relaxed.

    But I did learn a lot from them: sun hot, water cold, wet sand sticks. Don't know how I made it through life this far without knowing all that. You are a saint for not running away screaming. Thanks for sharing.

    P.S. As for "loses his soul" – I'm still perplexed with that one.

    1. Jo:
      It was at first overwhelmingly depressing, but then (sadly) funny. I don't know how he could describe the water as cold. Even I can stay in forever. They must only have ever been in heated pools. As for "loses his soul," they were more than a little elitist. "Rupert" talked later about only purchasing "a proper drink in a glass" from one of the restaurants. (And that's why I didn't feel guilty talking about them.)

  2. I LOVE the Fretters! Here, that is!
    Mitch, you are quite the sleuth! People like this end up mesmerizing me and I have to be SNAPPED OUT OF THE TRANCE they put me in! Ask Ron!

    This was so entertaining! Hey, possibly a 'comic strip' developing here Mr.Man!

  3. This is SNL material for sure, Mitch!

    My mind boggles at the absurdity of their conversation, naivete and just plain "duh"ness. I half suspect there are more of THEM(B Movie from the 1950's) out there ready to "take over the world". Sorry I just get all riled up with inane situations. I'm still laughing though!!
    Ron *hey Jim I've got sand between my toes again* here!!

    1. Ron:
      They appeared to be a well-heeled family. I think they've already taken over the world!

      Oh, my, what's that smell?!? Why, I think it's sea air. I hope it's not unhealthy. Perhaps shallow breaths are in order.

  4. Mitch, this is hilarious! These people tend to mesmermize me……I can get quite caught up in listening to the banality of it all. Ron has to SHAKE me out of it!! Almost.
    This could so be a very funny 'comic strip'. Good post.

  5. Blogger is not letting me leave a comment….I will try again…
    This is so funny Mitch! They (people like this) have no idea how funny they are! In small doses of course!

  6. Mitch, this is hilarious! These people tend to mesmermize me……I can get quite caught up in listening to the banality of it all. Ron has to SHAKE me out of it!! Almost.
    This could so be a very funny 'comic strip'. Good post.

  7. Mitch, this is hilarious! These people tend to mesmermize me……I can get quite caught up in listening to the banality of it all. Ron has to SHAKE me out of it!! Almost.
    This could so be a very funny 'comic strip'. Good post.

  8. This provided a really good laugh in an otherwise miserable week, so thanks for that! How you didn't run away screaming is beyond me.

    1. Stephen:
      I'm curious to know, once they get home, how they'll describe their "holiday." Although, the parents were quite priggish, I still was sad for them. Then again, who am I to judge. I guess they find contentment in this.

  9. Wow.
    I wanted to bury them up to their necks in the sand–head first–just from reading this.
    Hearing it live would have done me no good at all.

    1. Bob:
      Oh, what an image. I can hear their dull complaints coming up to the surface through bubbles of sand.

      When I was very young and we were at the beach, we were told to dig to China. Every hole we dug almost reached. Imagine their heads sticking out in "China." The poor Chinese!

  10. OMG! Did you look for a hidden camera? Because this is hilarious.

    Why do these people go to a beach on their holiday is beyond me, they will even complain in the artic circle or just at home. Indigested cream…

  11. So funny. One wonders why they thought the beach was a good idea; since they seem to be concerned about sun, sand, water, wind and temperature. Certainly the news that there might be shells and stones in the water keeps me away though I never considered the existential crisis inherent in selling refreshments.

    1. HK:
      Ironic that the father thought the refreshment seller had a job that caused him to lose his soul. My business career (and many others like it) is a much more effective way to do so, I think.

      I never did see this family again. I wonder if they're ever able to relax and enjoy.

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