I was late. I was sweating. I smelled like a weasel or a polecat if not an outright skunk and there was no joy in ancient Mudville. There had been trouble but it was not my fault. Anyway, it was behind me. Anyone who claimed otherwise didn’t know shit. And still doesn’t.
When I started to smell the dying anchovies wallowing in the shallows near the shore of Monterey Bay, I assumed we were going to make it. There were 12,000 sooty shearwaters gobbling up 66,ooo slippery corpses, give or take. The round-up technique employed by the birds is a stellar sight. Either that, or one of the smart-ass kids had cut loose with a silent but deadly burrito fart. Yeah, I thought as the stink evolved, it must be one of the kids. The windows were already down so what else was I supposed to do?
Next, I found that access to the street leading to the beach at Pleasure Point was being blocked by a forest ranger, a lifeguard, and a Santa Cruz County Deputy Sheriff, all of whom self-identified more as sol surfers than as appendages of the law. As they waved their arms mechanically like windshield wipers to signal no more cars would be allowed to pass, they were discussing a freak storm that was gathering strength in the Gulf Of Alaska and carrying the potential of another gnarly swell.
Naturally, I assumed that the prohibition against cars did not include mine.
I was transporting four members of the the surf team from New Brighton Middle School to a competition. They were no less loud and obnoxious than usual. None of them expected to win, or care. That included the tween twins who gamely plodded ahead carrying my iffy DNA. Their surfboards were firmly tied down with bungee cords to the roof rack atop my car.
I leaned out of the window and said to the Deputy Sheriff, who turned out to be the wrong choice, “These kids are in the competition.”
“Whatsa matter, they can’t walk,” he snapped. The way he said it convinced me he was not asking a question. He had something gross on his lip and I turned away in disgust, but said nothing.
I knew the lifeguard would have been a better choice but it was too late now and what else was I supposed to do?
“Everybody out,” I proclaimed.
The tween twins, especially the yang embodiment of the pair, though viciously tireless and territorial as a surfer hoarding waves, did not take kindly to perambulation on dry land that relied on his own two feet. But what the fuck else was I supposed to do?
I could feel even if I could not see that the tawny owl was perched in one of the trees above me laughing his ass off. His eyesight was fucking awesome. He was checking out the action of his friends, the humpback whales, frolicking about a mile from shore. I had to admit that from a distance I could look funny, sort of.
I knew from all of my experience that in the process of selection between poor choices, there was not a hell of a lot to be said for what I could do.