Floating on my back staring at the endless cloudless blue sky, a white hot sun warming the water of my backyard oasis, a breeze tousling palm fronds along the fence line, grooving to the surf rock channel on Pandora through a Sonos wireless speaker, hoisting floaters and jump shots and baby hooks at the poolside basketball hoop, guzzling California Honey blonde ale from Pizza Port in Carlsbad … reminders of summers past, stark realizations of current conditions and situations …
Today, I took shot after shot with my father’s old Voit basketball with a fast leak at the Lifetime Poolside portable basket (the greatest second-hand virtual garage sale purchase ever made) with a feeling of melancholy … the shadow over the pool growing ever longer as the hour grew later, remembering the last several 4th of July pool basketball games with friends and family visiting from out of town and how the Coronavirus cancelled this year’s game … socially distancing and limiting family gatherings and all that. No blood no foul. I still have a scar on my left hand from last summer’s game. My right shoulder screaming in agony with every off balance shot because of three months solid of football throwing in the park down the street due to distance learning and the 13-year-old needing to meet a “gym” requirement. Thoroughly enjoyed the time, but my shoulder doth protest. Every time the ball left the pool and I had to retrieve it, I launched a shot from distance, with varying degrees of success. Every time the ball hit nothing but net, I called out “Squish,” because I was immersed in water for crying out loud.
Each time I launched myself across the length on a boogie board purchased after last year’s summer vacation in anticipation of an excursion this year, I thought of last summer and my birthday swim in the Pacific, and how I almost looked really cool body surfing until that one wave buried me in the surf and trying to get up all suave and still proclaiming, “I am the sea!” Ending the day with 15-year-old Scotch and thinking, “So, this is 50?” And now contemplating a glass of the 18-year-old Scotch that came with 51 …
The wave runner waterproof and water-optimized football harkens back to every beach … playing football on the beach is required … sometimes you have to go all “Johnny Utah.”
And then there’s the music … yeah man … digging the guitar riffs of Dick Dale and the harmonies of The Beach Boys … wondering why it took me 12 years to dial up “Surf Rock” (Yacht Rock is just 70s easy listening) on any number of streaming devices or music catalogues … playing air guitar with the pool net/pole to Miserlou, the greatest surf rock song ever recorded … splashing and jumping and diving to Jan and Dean, the Rivieras, The Ventures, the Surfaris … these tunes are where it’s at surrounded by palms while basking in the “warm California sun.” After a few tunes, you start to understand why Quentin Tarantino mines this stuff for his soundtracks.
For a few brief hours on any given hot, sunny afternoon (which there seems to be more and more of these days), I can shed the skin of the grey flannel suburbanite and escape to a beatnik paradise … never mind that it is a suburban terrarium I escape to … I’m Jack Kerouac at Ferlinghetti’s cabin under Bixby Bridge at Big Sur … I’m Daniel Craig as James Bond emerging from the warm Caribbean Sea in the Bahamas in Casino Royale … I’m Captan Jack Sparrow … it’s last summer body surfing in Carlsbad or introducing the dog to the ocean at Carmel by the Sea … I’m anybody I want to be and I’m anywhere I want to be … the only Corona has a lime in it … and instead of a typewriter or a notebook, it’s a MacBook with a killer WiFi connection.
With all the craziness in the world … crazier than usual it seems … the racial unrest, the global pandemic, rampant unemployment (yours truly included), political division, climate change, and any number of issues I could mention, it’s somewhat ironic that a commercial for Corona said it best … find your own beach … but right now … keep your feet on the ground and find one a little closer to home.