Seizing the opportunity between storms, I put on a pair of full length big boy pants and continued my important quest to make big things right. Damn good big thing I did, too. How many indeterminately long and wistful years had it been since I began searching Monterey Bay for the humpback whale who appeared to be light taupe, unless it was more accurately dark ecru that he represented on the eternal color wheel, in order to issue a sincere apology for transgressions past and persistently present, and not only by me, not by the long shot of a fucking harpoon? Where would I have ended up without so many gobs of spit, unsightly scarring, and borderline perseveration to keep me going? Those years might have otherwise seemed wasted. But then there he was, or at least close enough to a reasonable facsimile thereof to convince me. Who the fuck needs any stinking shadow of doubt to nag? The existential stench of life and life only wafted from the bottom of the sea. The humpback whale breached near the stern of my rocking boat and looked deeply into my eyes that were suddenly stinging from admixed salt in the tracks of my tears.
“Who, fucking whoa,” burst spontaneously from my mouth, and not for the first time, along with a smattering of stray puke due to the churning foam of Monterey Bay, a certifiable national marine sanctuary, with no apparent disgusting strings attached. It was a basic response that caught me unaware and bereft on a gut level I never expected to exhibit on a day that I had sincere doubts would ever arrive. But when an auspicious wind picks up steam before noon on Monterey Bay the foam does tend to churn. A million shitting anchovies tend to stink under most aquatic conditions. Now, all of those wistful years otherwise wasted revealed their purpose.
The humpback whale, who appeared more light taupe than I recalled in the light of a dreamy morning tinted by an unexpected glimmer of terra cotta, responded with what I could swear if I swore was a fucking bass lick in an elongated style akin to Trombone Shorty fronting a Mardi Gras band, “SuuuuP.”
I repeated, “Whoa.” I repeated, “Fucking.” I added emphasis and intonation. I sputtered and spit. The foam cohabited with spray. A particle was forcibly expelled from my nose. I invented a new word that did not exist in any jumble of language. I was unable to stop. There went that dogged perseveration again, again, again.
Finally, in sum, I concluded,”Uhh…”
Skimming on the surface of the sea, much like bounding along into the wild blue yonder, comes with many conditions. The Pacific Ocean don’t do no messing around. It don’t need no stinking badges. Prisoners may be taken singly or en masse. If you don’t know enough to go with the flow, don’t go. But, I was gone, gone, gone. Me and kooky Ike Turner were cruising Route 66 in a Rocket 88 with the top down. Tina was nowhere nearby to be dragged around. If I became mixed up I could always blame it on nautical conditions. I’d been in trouble inside the boundaries of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary lots of times, several of which I am able to recall vividly. I had no problem with following from behind just like any other duped fellow traveler. So, I did. And do. Noting new there. Nothing wrong with that.
I followed at full speed on the surface because by now I know how. There’s no need to stop and reason why. Shallow, for me, is the only way to go that makes sense. Even a brief pause for a deeper thought may cause too much pressure on an overly exposed head. I turned off the preachy marine radio because talk is cheap and I could not afford to be misled by jabber. Among conditions, none held sway with a greater grasp than gravity. No maps or charts revealed the way to get where I was going, going, going, but not yet gone, gone, gone.
If I believe what I heard next constituted a swinging aural fiesta of nuanced rhythm and convergent tone, which I did, and do, which counts the most in my songbook, then I did. If those were not primary hues mixing at a pastel pajama party featuring Gato Barbieri, Joshua Redman, and Kamasi Washington, then call me an unsightly scarred shitting fool. Because it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing, but if it do, dig it while it’s happening.
I followed above a canyon grander than any famous attraction abutting a parking lot designed with stripes to accommodate buses zoned for the slightly unsightly scarred and handicapped. My myopia held sway on high alert, dancing the boogaloo like back in the day. All I was able to see was right in front and a bit on the side that wiggled. I was still learning how to compensate for weakness leaning in the wrong direction. You can’t tell me my deep yearning to be free wasn’t still strong, though. What else would keep me so wide awake? It was clear even to me in my mist which of us trying to keep up so despairingly was the advanced creature. I saw scant parts of a sky with no beginning and no end falling from the top down on my head. Machines were replacing me with odd ends. The humpback whale saw a whole big picture beginning from a microcosm where illumination glowed profoundly from deep below. He saw the holes in my parts. I could tell he felt sorry for me. I felt sorry for me, too. I had such a hard time taking a deep, cleansing breath. He had once stood on achy ground in my shoes gasping for a satisfying breath, before making the smart move, like duh, and tap, tap, tap dancing back out of a hell hole where skin became fried and crispy. How deep is a big brain going to reach diving into a pit of sand? Where else do you think insidious tunnel vision comes creeping from?
Had mere myopic language been adequate to describe the sheer size of the leviathan task I faced in following an advanced humpback whale from so far behind, which it’s not, due to the vastness of empty spaces unaccounted for, and not only between words and repeated pauses, I might have had a better explanation when ticketed by an armed polyester henchman for my so-called transgressions at the Santa Cruz Harbor than the one to which I am still sticking no matter what the fuck.
I said, “Uh…”
I heard, “What’s that?”
I said, “What the fuck.” It was not a question.
Later, after coming back from being gone, gone, gone, where I believe I came sort of close enough to the razor edge edge to smell some mightily funky stuff that I suspect might be the origin of life and life only, I appeared in the Criminal Court of Santa Cruz County to repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly deny, deny, deny all the unjust charges against me. I as wearing a different pair of big boy pants but the affect was the same. I started out standing on what appeared to be solid logical ground trying to take a deep breath, but soon realized I alone was the only one doing all of the gasping.