Waterways- The Prequel

So lately, I’ve been doing all of this Eastern medicine, reiki, detox, healing crapola, in an attempt to behave like a “normal” human being.  And its great.  It leaves me feeling incredibly calm and centered.  Most of it seems like just laying on a big heating pad while someone waves beads or feathers or something over my head.  But, I guess thousands of years of healing tradition must work or why they hell would they still be doing that crap?  And it works for me- so there it is.

Anyhoo, the reason I’m telling you all of this is as follow up to yesterday’s blog post, Waterways.  I was quite proud of it.  I asked my husband about it and he gave his typical man response, “yeah, it was good”. But oh no, every woman knows this brief review of my work will never do.  “Don’t you think its good?  I mean, like ‘real writing’?  It wasn’t humorous and didn’t include any cuss words”, I prompted.  “Yeah, it was different than your usual writing..not so frantic…ya know…not crazy” came his supportive reply.

Whoa ho ho!!  Back up a minute- NOT CRAZY!  Well, my dear sir, you have just thrown down the gauntlet.  “Not crazy” will never do in my book.  Oh no, I’ve laid awake all night giving my relationship with a water some deep and thoughtful consideration.  And my friends, let’s all jump on the USS Crazy Train, shall we?

My life on the water began before I can remember.  My dad owned an Aqua Cat.  Its like a Hobie Cat but smaller and less popular.  In fact, I think we may have owned the only one in existence; because ever since then whenever I’ve told someone we had an Aqua Cat they always correct me and say, “oh, you mean a Hobie Cat”. No dumb ass, an Aqua Cat.

If this is your first time reading my blog, let me give you a little background.  My parents were definitely not Ozzie & Harriett.  Or y’all probably don’t even know who that is- maybe Ward & June Cleaver?  Shit, I don’t know.  In short, they were both crazy and split up when I was about 7- the end.

Well, back to the Aqua Cat, in those early years when my parents still tolerated each other, we would often load up the old cat on the trailer and take it to the beach.  Now the beach was really just some spot on the Chesapeake Bay where they’d thrown out a bunch of sand- so I guess that qualifies as a beach.

Being the ever thoughtful and responsible parents the planning of picnic items and the like was not tops on their list.  We can just pick that shit up on the way out there.  So, we would stop by KFC- you youngin’s my not know this but those letters actually stand for something and back then we just called it Kentucky Fried Chicken- ah what simpler times they were.  And then we can swing by the beer & wine store on the way and pick up a case of B-bows (translation: Pabst Blue Ribbon) for Dad.  In Maryland, not only do you have to sell liquor at liquor stores, you also have to sell Beer & Wine at there own separate stores as well.  Why?  Who the fuck knows?  But, my poor husband got to learn this fact the hard way. The first time he came to visit my family he ran to the store to get some beer.  He was gone for over and hour and the store was literally at the end of our street.  This was before cell phones and I couldn’t figure out where the hell he was.  When he finally got home, he filled me in.  I had neglected to tell him this particular little quirk about the Free State and so he’d been driving all over the state from grocery store to convenience store far and wide before he finally asked someone.  Oopsy Daisy!

Oh wait, let’s get back to our beach trip.  So, dad’s got his case but wait there is also my non-drinking mother and his three CHILDREN with him.  Okay- we can stop and pick up a six-pack of coke for all them- that should last us all 8 hours on the beach, right?  Thank God, my mother at least brought some sunscreen or sun tan lotion- I don’t think anyone really believed in skin cancer back then so I’m really not sure how much UV protection it provided- but man you’d have a great tan.

So there we’d be at the beach.  Dad would off load the trailer.  The great thing about an Aqua Cat (no, I’m not mistaken, its not a Hobie Cat, asshole) is that you can launch it directly from the beach.  So, once the Cat was off the trailer, the entire family (including little toddler me) would all push the damn thing the million miles from the parking lot across the searing hot sand to the water’s edge.  Note, we were at the beach so of course the first thing you do is kick off your shoes- not giving a second thought to the fact that you may develop third degree burns on the bottom of your feet.  But, it sure gave us all motivation to get that motherfucking boat to the water as fast as possible so we could cool our heals.

Then we’d all sit down on the 3 towels we’d brought for all 5 of us to sit on.  We never had chairs or an actual cooler.  Dad would just pick up one of those handy dandy styrofoam coolers at the beer store, so then he could just throw it away at the end of the day.  I wonder how many of his coolers are taking up space in a landfill somewhere?  Well, at least he can honestly say he’s left his permanent and indelible mark on the world.

Anyhoo, he’d down 6 or 8 beers, ya know, just enough to take your small children out for a sailing excursion on the Bay.  Despite being drunk and depriving his children of hydration, he did make us wear life jackets.  I don’t even think it was a law back then, so thanks Dad for not letting us drown.  We’d set off with the wind in our sails to circle the lighthouse.  He loved to joke that sharks were also circling the lighthouse.  Yay!  We’re inches from the water, hiked way up on one side and he’s making hilarious jokes about Jaws.

So we’d be on our way back to the beach when, shit, the whole damn thing capsized.  No, not just one time.  This happened every time.  Thus, the life preservers.  We got really good at uprighting the old Cat.  Thank God we had the smaller less popular sister because I don’t think we could have hefted Hobie’s beautiful big ass over.

These beach adventures truly are some of the happiest memories of my childhood- believe it or not.  I was with my whole family, on a beach, on the water, in the water, laughing and having fun.  So, yeah.  Its not nearly as idyllic as the picture I painted yesterday of our current boat outings.  But, there is something about the water- that despite our family turmoil- the water made everything okay even for just those few days.  Burned feet and all.

 

 

 

 

Life Lessons

My father has always been under the impression that everyone else in the world is getting older except him.  That he is invincible and will live forever.  He runs everyday, swims in the summer, drinks like a fish, travels the world and lives life to its fullest.  I want nothing more than to feel the same way throughout my life.  He is approaching his 80th birthday and old age is finally beginning to rear its ugly, age spotted, gray haired bald head.  Nothing really horrible, just forgetfulness from time to time, the occasional unsteadiness on his feet, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, old people smell…you know, old people shit.

He’s had a few health problems as of late and went in for a check up a week or so ago.  The doctor took a blood test and told him to lay off  “the alcohol” for a week until the test came back.  Well, everything is looking hunky dory, and the doctor gave him the go ahead to “go back on the alcohol.”  However, he suggested he cut back his evening drinks from 3 shots of alcohol per drink to 2 shots per drink.  Btw, one drink for my dad is the equivalent of 4 for any normal person- if you’ve read this blog before, you’ll remember- he’s a professional.

So, after he told me the doctor’s “suggestions” regarding his alcohol intake I asked him if he was having a drink.  It was almost 9pm- an absolutely acceptable time.  Remember, he’s a professional, he doesn’t drink during the day- he has rules (alcoholics do not have rules, professionals do), 9pm is the magic hour- and then he only has TWO drinks.  Ahem- like I said two is the equivalent of four.  Anyhoo, when I asked if he was drinking he said, “Well, yeah.” (as if I’m an idiot) “But, its just wine- not whiskey or anything.  Wine is like juice.  It doesn’t do anything.  I’m only having 3 or 4 glasses.”  I love it- “WINE IS LIKE JUICE.”  Technically, he’s right- its grape juice- only fermented.  And isn’t 4 glasses the whole bottle?  But, who am I to tell an 80 year old man to part with his best friend?  Hell hath no fury like an 80 year old (or a toddler) who’s had his JUICE taken away.

This got me thinking of all the wise advice my parents have given me throughout the years.  Drugs are pretty much straight forward, don’t do them.  After all, my mother told me, “Marijuana killed Judy Garland.”  Well, if Mary Jane is what killed Dorothy then I definitely wanted to stay as far from that as possible.  My parents pretty much missed the 60’s entirely, being busy raising little ones of their own at that time.  So I don’t think she ever understood the difference between a joint and, I don’t know, shit like heroine, cocaine, prescription drug abuse…but whatevs.

She would also remind me every time I left the house on a foggy night, “Be careful, remember how Jayne Mansfield died.”  WTF?  First of all, Jayne Mansfield was a star about a million years before I was born and how the hell am I supposed to know how she died???  I’m pretty sure most of you are unaware as well.  So fyi, in case you’re ever on Jeopardy or something, on a foggy night her car went under a truck and she was decapitated.  Got it, Mom.  (Btw, I haven’t fact checked that- I’m just trusting that she knows her shit.)  Now, every time I see fog all I can think of is Jayne Mansfield’s decapitated corpse- yay- happy thoughts!  But, I digress.

Of course, my Dad was the expert on advice for alcohol or more like friendly suggestions.  I remember very vividly when Tylenol began coming in child proof bottles, I was about 8 and his “go to” for opening that shit.  One time in particular, as I popped the bottle for him, he told me (again I’m 8), “if you ever drink too much, just take two Tylenol before you go to bed and you won’t have a hangover.”  Good to know, Dad.  I followed this sage advice all throughout college.  That is until they figured out that- oopsy daisy- you could die of sudden liver damage by combining those two things.  Thanks, Dad!

My other favorite piece of advice from dear old dad is regarding drinking and driving.  Now to his credit, his story has changed as he has aged and he will NEVER drive after even one drink now and will not allow me to either.  But, as a kid, I really can’t remember a time when I didn’t have to kick beer cans out of the way to climb in the back seat of his mid-life crisis sports car. One time we were weaving down the road and were pulled over by our local Barney Fife and he asked him, “Sir, have you been drinking?”  Always the honest man, he said yes.  There my sister and I were, bouncing around the back seat, no seat belts and surrounded by empty beer cans and all the officer said was, “Well, I suggest you be careful and get those girls home right away.”  Thanks, officer!  For you youngins, it was the 70’s and they didn’t really take all that shit seriously.

In high school he told me a full proof way of getting out of a drunken driving arrest.  No matter that the legal drinking age was 21 and I was in high school- he is a realist so I guess he was trying to be helpful.  His advice went something like this, “Act real innocent and just tell the officer, ‘Oh my!  I never drink.  I just left the company party and they must’ve had something in the punch!'”  Yeah, I know you’re shaking your head, so am I.

A really great piece of advice they both gave me, and I mean this in all seriousness, was to major in something I loved in college- because once you get into the real world, unless you’re going to be a doctor or rocket scientist or something- nobody is going to give a shit what you studied or how well you did.  You should study hard but have fun, because the real world is a bitch.  I’ve been quite successful in my career and it wasn’t until just the past couple of years that the folks I work for figured out I majored in Theatre.  See, people don’t even read that little “education” part on your resume- its all the other bullshit you put at the beginning that matters.  Having majored in Theatre and had no jobs related to my field of study, I know, my friends, that this is advice you can take to the bank!

Watching them both, I learned that you have to let shit go, NOT CARE WHAT ANYONE ELSE THINKS, and go for it no matter what.  They didn’t always demonstrate these qualities, sometimes they did- but they showed me in their joy and their sorrows that life is meant to be lived….the best lesson of all.

And fuck, I just read that last paragraph- it sounds like they’re dead.  No…rest assured, they are alive and well and still giving me “awesome” advice all the time.  I’ll be sure to share it with you another time.