Driving from Camp Grandma to Chicago on our midwestern vacation last week, we stopped at a secret: this beach. This beach which is in Indiana. Yes, Indiana. The same state that gave us the smells of Gary, the sound of Dan Quayle, and the Indianapolis 500, has an amazingly lovely string of beaches that follow the southern tip of Lake Michigan.

We had a wonderful day here, romping with cousins, in and out of the waves, until sundown. We gave all the kids pizza on the beach for dinner and they thought they’d died and gone to heaven. Pizza? and the beach? Bliss.

And somehow out there on the lake shore, it seemed okay to be wearing a two-piece bathing suit. Maybe because I was with “just” family? Or maybe it was because I was in the midwest, where a startling number of people resemble large pink hams?

Were I to appear on a beach in, say, Southampton, however, someone would doubtless call the local constabulary who would then have to invoke the mandatory caftan ordinance. I would be summarily swathed in designer linen and escorted to the nearest westbound jitney.

East Hampton, where we are going to visit friends later this week, has a slightly more relaxed caftan policy, thank goodness, so I think everything will be fine. After all, once your town has counted Jackson Pollack and co. as residents, you can’t be too uptight about anything, can you? 

But just to be safe? I’m tucking a caftan into my overnight bag.

And if you’re thinking about a vacation for next summer? You could do worse than flying to Chicago and then heading east to the Indiana beaches. It will be our secret.