My Friend Phat

The American holiday of Thanksgiving — the perfect day to introduce my friend Phat.  Phat and I go way back.  We’ve been close friends since childhood.  Oh, we lose touch every now and then, but we always hook back up at some point.

Phat has seen me through some pretty thick and thin times.  Sometimes we have belly laughs to rival those giggling babies on You Tube.  Other times we sit in the dark contemplating our belly buttons, wondering how life got this way.

I remember once, due to some unfortunate circumstances, I lived in a house with no central heat.  Phat was there to help keep me warm that winter.  Phat made a gradual exit that year after we chopped many a tree for the wood stove.  By spring Phat was gone and my really illusive friend Phit came to visit for a short while.  (Phat and Phit rarely visit together – they tend to get under each other’s skin.)

Sometimes, Phat sneaks up on me, that devilish prankster.  Now is a perfect example, seems like I turned around and bam! there’s Phat hanging around in places I’ve never seen before.

As I’ve grown older, I find that Phat has grown more obnoxious.  Or maybe Phat has always been that way and I’ve never taken the time to really notice.

Oh, people have told me Phat is really no good for me, that I’m being led down a path that leads to ill being.  I suppose they are right.  The times I’ve lived without Phat do tend to be more enjoyable all around.  And if I think of it hard enough, I see that Phat does have a rather abusive personality with lots of boundary issues.

It is a classic cycle.  Phat gets me all out of shape, I pull away and try to find a healthier lifestyle then Phat returns bearing sweet gifts in order to wiggle back into my life.  Why even this morning I’m being plied with sweet rolls with Cinnabun icing.

Ye gads, they are right!

I am going to call Phit this very day and see if we can go for a walk and do some talking.  We need to get better acquainted again.  I have the number around here somewhere.

Just let me clean up these rolls and I’ll get right on it.

Lunch with Yoda









The ambience of the dining establishment

Left much to be desired.


Walls of cream and pastel green punctuated with

Primaries did not whet the appetite.


A selection of cheery, primitive art attempted to

Counteract the cheerless interior.


The lighting flattered neither

Food nor guest.


Classical music poured out of tin speakers,

Adding salt to wounded composers.


The maitre’d was surly, sour and

Bitter in her greetings.


She slow marched each party to their table

With enforced silence.


And although we were seated in a reserved section,

The other diners were a bit intrusive.


The meal itself reminded me why

I usually make my own.


The rice-undercooked and bland.

The vegetables-overcooked and bland.


The beef I’d ordered had a strange relationship

With a certain Dr. Salisbury.



The unnecessary death of a good peach.


I closed my eyes to offer a prayer

For this dining misfortune.


Grace found my companion and

The smile on his face before he left for recess.

Kamikaze Germs


Three foot surgeries, one broken ankle, several other surgeries, tendonitis, arthritis – I have had my share, but the two worse things I loathe when it comes to health issues are head colds and most of all, stomach ailments.

Empty desks have spotted the work floor this week.  Stomach ailments.  The shark was circling.

I’m not a big advocate for all the hand sanitizers and whatnot that people are always slathering on these days.  Too many good germs get washed away – throwing the baby out with the bath water, as my mother says.  I just wash my hands with soap and try not to put my fingers in my mouth on a regular basis.  Besides I find that most grab me up by the scruff of the neck stuff is airborne anyway.

Those rotten little kamikaze germs finally found their way to me this week.

Monday’s symptoms had me sweating all through Anthropology class and out for the count for work.

False hope reigned on Tuesday.

Wednesday’s child is full of woe is me.  This morning, as soon as the last bite of raisin bran hit my stomach, I knew.  Ambush.

Bashert will tell you in a heartbeat that I do not do well with stomach ailments.  I prefer my stomach contents to be processed in the correct direction and will fight the last good fight for this to remain so.

She found me upstairs an hour later in the bed immobile.  Not moving has always been my best defense.  The next line is a wonderful little chemical prescribed by physicians called promethazine.  Outside of a tincture of belladonna, it is hands down the best stuff I’ve ever had to combat stomach ailments.

We call it white gold.

Bashert kindly had the doctor call some in for me and I can feel the effects beginning. Stomach has settled some and soon I will be easing off into a nice visit with la-la-land, sleeping my way through the evil little germs’ war with my system.

Give me sore feet any day.

Mea Culpa – Hear ye, hear ye

In my world of recollections, I have assigned nom de plumes to friends and family to 1. give a little distance and 2. have some fun. Well, as fate would have it, at least one assigned name has not been welcomed. (She also reminded me that she gave up the chance to take the win to tend to me when I broke my ankle  – the game was still on. – Thanks, sis! 🙂 )

It happens that my sister, erstwhile known in these pages as Raquel, has requested, due to reasons that shall remain hers, that I rename her character.  In our lively conversation, it was revealed that she has a great pirate name.

So hence forth, let it be known that my sister shall be called Calico Nell.  That is until another is requested – I am quite flexible and hopefully you, dear reader will be as well.

This piece is also a call to any of my other cast of characters. Hear ye, hear ye!  If ye should want a different pseudonym for yourself or need an explanation as to why I chose a certain moniker then by all means come forth.  I shall entertain all comers.

So far my cast includes:



Mama: my grandmother

Tricia: my aunt a.k.a. Bad Dancing Jenny

Bashert: my partner

Yoda: my son

Nené: my daughter (of various spellings)

Calico Nell: my sister

M’pudi: her husband, my brother in law

Epic: my nephew, their son

Noël: my niece, their daughter

Stravos: my older brother

Money Penny: his wife, my sister in law

Ernst: my younger brother

There are others to come, so let me know family and friends.  I welcome you to my little world.

Where CRS meets ADD

“Where are my keys?”  “I can’t find my shoes!”  “Why are all the cabinet doors open?”  “Where’s my phone?”  “Have you seen the t.v. remote?” “Why is there a wet towel in the sink?”  “Why do we have six boxes of ________?” “I have an idea…”

Welcome to my home.

Living in a house where it is normal to find your child sitting on his head while watching t.v. is a bit of an adjustment for some. Its just another day in our house.

We are a house of ADHD.

Over the years I’ve become accustomed to various, almost empty containers returned to the fridge, while the entire pot of roast sits languishing on the counter overnight.  I’m used to the linen closet that was full on Monday being devoid of fresh towels by Wednesday.  I’ve also become inured (well, almost inured) to finding the sink that was emptied of dishes that morning filled to the brim with dish ware later that afternoon.

Incomplete conversations are a speciality in our house.

“I was talking to Money Penny the other day and she said that Stavros…did you see that tree?”

“What tree?”

“That tree.  The one shaped like a pirate with the parrot on his shoulder standing next to a treasure chest?”

“No, I did not see that tree.  Where was it?”

“Over there.”

“Can you be a bit more specific?”

OVER THERE, by the green fence with the spikey tips, surrounded by English Ivy, that looks like snakes crawling up a wall.”

“Oh, that tree (insert snarky sarcasm).  No, we passed by too quickly.”

“Never mind. That’s why Stavros can’t make it to the party next week.”

“Excuse me?  Why can’t Stavros make it to the party?”

“I told you just a minute ago why.”

“No, you started to and then we were talking about the tree.”

“Wasn’t that tree great?!  I’m going to have to come back with my camera and takes some photos.”

Becoming accustomed to all this does not mean accepting.  Oh, no, my brain bubbles over.  My patience is sucked dry so that it turns inside out.  I sigh; I scream; I mumble incoherently to myself and Shit Dog. I call my therapist.

I tried joining a couple of support groups on line, but all they did was whine about their “dear husband’s”  or “dear wive’s”.  There never seemed to be any practical advice on how anyone, let alone a same-sex couple, was to stay sane and together and maintain any kind of balance in the roller coaster ride of a life time.

Once I got passed the, “Oh, wow, there are other people like us” effect, it wasn’t much use.  It just added another layer of frustration, so I gave up and I ate cake.

Now, I’m no total innocent in all of this.  For example, there was a time when I adamantly denied ever entering a Schlotzky’s deli.  I could have passed a lie detector test, I was so convinced.  But all it took was for me to take one step inside and lo and behold I had been there before.

Growing up, whenever someone couldn’t find anything around the house, the universal cry was, “Have you checked Halfc’s room?”.  I tend to collect things.  And I can be messy.

I am also horrible remembering people’s names.  I’ve worked with some people almost ten years and if they don’t have their id badges name out, forget it.  Its all-embracing “hey you” time.  This frustrates Bashert, who can remember intimate details about people from  first grade.

Speaking of frustration, they get put out with me, too.  I don’t always get it or I seem to blame all things on their disorder.  Since I can’t see things through their eyes its their prerogative to voice that dissatisfaction.

For me, stress, sleep depravation and age have all amounted to what’s referred to as associative ADHD (a proven phenomenon) or as my family calls it CRS – your basic Can’t Remember Shit.

Where my tendencies and acquired traits leave off and their ADHD picks up can be a fine line at times.

I have added to my resume ‘finder of things lost in obvious places’ and ‘tester of hard hats’, as I can often be found in the corner banging my head in frustration after being asked “what did he say?” during movies and missing the next entire segment of dialogue.

I have also added ‘appreciator of creative thinking’.  Yoda has created the universe many times over in our living room out the most mundane of articles and he has written, illustrated and occasionally performed, imaginative stories about dinosaurs and dreams to entertain Bashert and me. He is an incredible mimic, who can pull off almost any accent he hears.

Bashert creates works of art that decorate our home and other’s.  She invents marvelous and ingenious ways of teaching kids to further their artistic potentials.  She gives people imaginative and workable ideas about how to improve their companies.  Her ‘Sweet Chair-ity’ last year was amazing in how she wrangled all those artistic egos and business people. And she throws one heck of a party!

Just a small sample of Bashert's quilling

Yoda and Bashert can also think very quickly.  Their thoughts are like gazelles to my plodding elephant.  I often get lost in their mazes of synapse firings and leaps, but I hang on and hopefully, end up in the same place or in the close vicinity.

There has been many a time when I’ve flopped down exhausted at the end of a day when I have done practically nothing except try to keep up.

My family’s ADHD may drive us all a bit nuts and lead to exhaustion on many levels, but  it also gives them passion, drive and creativity out the wazoo.

Would they have accomplished what they have, Bashert in particular, if they didn’t have ADHD? Probably.  But it wouldn’t have been the same.

It wouldn’t have been the same at all and that would have been a shame.  So we shall continue on valiantly, losing toothpaste tops, checkbooks and keys, creating beauty out of chaos and building a world with a slightly different view.

Oh, look a baby lizard….

Big City Syndrome or Near Death on the Red Line

On our last day in DC we crammed in a lot of stuff.   We walked from the Lincoln Memorial all the way back to the National Museum of Art, with museum stops in between.  That’s the full length of the Mall and then some.

Pretty good for an almost 8 year old and a pleasantly plump, 50 year old who has had three foot surgeries. Bashert is disgustingly in love with walking, so she was in heaven.

Bashert also loves the challenge and excitement of the big city.

She weaves in, out and through busy crowds and streets like a pro.  Yoda and I work hard to keep up.

Bashert admits that the city brings out the serious Big City Syndrome in her. Her mother was pure Alabama, but her father, aside from being first generation American, was born and raised in Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York.

Now on this final, active day, we finally had to make a line change on the Metro.  The station where we picked up the subway wasn’t the line we needed, so we mapped out the train switch we would have to make.  Two stops and we would hop from the Green line to the Red line.

No big deal.  We get on; we get off; we get on.  Piece of cake, right?

Enter the Big City soul of Bashert.

We all got off the Green Line train fine.  We located the escalator to the lower level where we were to catch the next train.  Yoda was exuberant to find it in working order, so that we didn’t have to walk down as we had in other stations.

Just as we hit the bottom of the escalator, the Red Line train pulled into the station.  Bashert switched into Big City mode and began to run for the train.

Recall, if you will, from the first few lines of this blog – an 8 year old and an out of shape 50 year old with a bad foot – I do not run well and Yoda was beginning to panic with the speed and activity about.

Bashert hopped into the last car of the train and got a seat.  I grabbed Yoda’s hand and started to run. He immediately plowed into the stomach of a passenger exiting the car.  He halted in his tracks and began to cry. I heard the warning bells going off that the door was about to close.

I’m not quite sure what possessed me to do the next thing.  Idiocy of the highest order definitely played a part.

I shoved my leg in the path of the closing door.

The doors continued to press inward and there I was hung in the literal balance of one foot in the train, the other in the station.  Visions began to swim through my brain.

I was either going to be careening through the underground of the city plastered against the skin of the train, fingernails dug into it’s metal sides or I was going to be dragged along, head butting every jutting support that came along in true slapstick form.

My next flash was that I was going to lose my leg. There I would be floundering on the platform gushing blood from my severed femoral artery, while onlookers screamed, “NINE-ONE-ONE, NINE-ONE-ONE!”.  Those doors don’t play.

Next day’s headline: “Tourist killed in Metro Accident, Inquiry to Follow”.  People would shake their heads and say what a tragedy to go on a family vacation and lose your life.

My last horrifying thought was that I was going to be pushed into the train by another late passenger only to look back and see Yoda left standing on the platform all alone. Oh, no that would not do at all.

Just when that sickening thought popped in, a man grabbed the other door and helped shove it back against the ever so polite, recorded voice that was admonishing us to clear the doorway area because the doors are closing. No kidding.

Yoda was still frozen in place, so I yelled in my ‘listen to me now’ Mom voice for him to jump in the car.  He moved on that one.

The gentleman and I followed quickly behind.  The doors slid shut.

Yoda sat in Bashert’s lap and I plopped down next to them, sweat pouring.

Bashert said she couldn’t believe I had done that.  Me either.

I had all the money, the subway tickets, both phones and Yoda.  I could have easily waited for the next train 6 minutes down the line. Why in the ever loving universe did I do it?

Big City Syndrome.

Its not a pretty thing on small town people.

I think our vacation ended at just the right time.

Tattoo You

I took a Psychology class a couple of semesters ago.  Cultural Diversity.  Thought it would be amusing to see the official take on my life.

For our final project we had to select a cultural phenomenon with which we were unfamiliar to research, have an experience of then write a paper and give a presentation.

I chose tattooing.

Tats, as I’m told the insiders call them, seem to be everywhere these days. I wanted to see if there had been any real change in the acceptance of tattooing in the mainstream.

Growing up in the 60’ and 70’s nice people just didn’t get tattoos, at least nice people who lived in white bread, middle class suburbia and hadn’t served in the military didn’t.

No, tattoos were for the hard core military, convicts, bikers and ladies of the night.

To this day, despite or maybe in addition to the fact that several of her grandchildren now have tattoos (including my own daughter), my Mom refers to them as trashy – the tattoos, not the grandchildren.

Trashy Babs

When the kids in my neighborhood played, the ones with the lick and stick tattoos were the bad guys, the ones who had guns and smoked.  Told you, middle class America in the 60’s.

As I grew up and gained a little worldly experience and knowledge, I found cultures outside my own that used skin marking as a means of artistic expression and to scare the wits out of their enemies.  (Check out the movie, The Piano there’s some good Maori tattooing going on there.)

But with my upbringing, these really didn’t have any real impact on my life – tattoos still remained other world.

I truly wondered why it was that any modern person in their right mind would submit to a torturous procedure that I viewed as coming from rather seedy depths.  Nuts.

For my research, I read various and sundry dry research articles that mostly found that tattooing was gaining some ground of acceptance in society as a whole, but this was still dependent on what types of tattooing was done – cute or not so cute.

One little tidbit from a large, southeastern university survey done in 2007 found that while many women may find visible tattoos on men attractive (as the ‘bad boy’), almost half of the men said that they seldom found a tattoo attractive on a woman.


Kinda speaks for itself, doesn't it?

I interviewed a couple of tattoo artists for my paper.  They were both very amenable to my clumsy questions.  I did find it interesting that the artist that had been in the business for all his life didn’t have any visible tattoos and the younger one said that he though his tattoos would restrict him in some of his career hopes. (Found out later that artist one actually has beaucoup tats, but just not down his arms.)

I also interviewed some folks I know who have tattoos.  That was interesting, too.  There was a common theme between them as well.

All three people got tattoos for the personal and permanent expression of feelings, relationships or circumstances.  None said they regretted it or would change them, but each said that they’ve either received flack or covered up to prevent commotion.

It was all the same familiar stuff I had read in the research papers.  It was a ‘yes, but’ kind of thing going on.

I wrangled my way into observing a tattoo being done.

My niece said I could come and watch hers being created if I didn’t ask stupid questions, such as “Does it hurt?”  Turns out that’s a stupid question because its obvious that it hurts like hell in certain areas.


The conclusion of my paper research was pretty much summed up by a phrase from one of the papers I read:

“people still view tattoos as a badge of dislocated, ostracized & disenfranchised community – a signifying practice that purposely embraced and promulgated images of other-ness”  – (Atkinson, Michael. “Tattooing and Civilizing Processes: Body Modification as Self-Control” Canadian Review of Sociology & Anthropology  41.2 (2004):125-146.Print.)

In other words, tattooing was still seen as coming from the wrong side of the tracks and done so on purpose.

There was some shift in the mainstream outlook and there is a new subculture of diverse ages, genders, races and socioeconomic levels that finds it completely acceptable as a means of self expression, but the tolerance shown was more or less dependent upon in what company one keeps, where the tattoo is located and what type it is. (Wow, that’s a pompous quote pretty much straight from my paper.)

My own conclusion was a bit p.c.  I said that I had learned that people will tattoo just about anything on themselves (and they do) for a myriad of reasons.  I also said that I had developed a broader ability to look beyond my own cultural upbringing and not judge those who have tattoos.  But in reality, it is still very difficult even with my own kid. I was raised to be a tattoo snob.

My last question to the class was and now you is – what are our nursing homes going to look like in 50 years with all this tattooing going on?  Think about it; it ain’t pretty.

Public Domain, artisit/subject unknown

Nom de Plume

I seem to have an issue with revealing true names here.  Except for my Aunts Tricia and Gloria and myself, I don’t think I referenced anyone’s real name.  And Tricia doesn’t count because only her immediate family calls her that.

My partner, Bashert on the other hand has no qualms at all about not protecting the innocent on her blog. (Bashert’s not her real name – she actually has a beautiful name to be debuted at a later date – but the meaning of bashert fits our lives completely.)

Maybe for me its still the private part of me not wanting to quite put it all out there yet.

Or it could be that I still succumb to our family trait of inventing alternate names for people. I’m not talking diminutives or family words for things.

If Bashert and I can’t remember someone’s name or haven’t been introduced to someone yet, we come up with a mnemonic to use for ourselves as reference points.

Some are just practical observation, others are based on observation and behaviors or circumstance.

We used have a woman who lived in our townhouse complex who drove this beat up, powder-blue, Volvo station wagon.  We could hear the thing coming a mile away, so she became “Volvo Lady”.

We used to have another set of neighbors, who were from China.  The husband spoke English to a point, except when he got excited.  He and his wife had a second baby and when we asked what they had he replied, “It’s a Larry.”  So, from then on out the poor baby was called “The Larry”.

We’ve had a couple of site managers involved with our complex who haven’t been exactly stellar in carrying out their managerial duties. One guy who wouldn’t answer his phone unless it was to tell you not to call, was dubbed “The Nazi”.  His blonde Arian appearance may have had something to do with that one as well.

The second manager expected a tip every time he did any kind of service.  He was knighted as “Master Bates”.

There was a woman in a class I was taking, that had to be one of the whitest people I had ever seen and I’m not talking in the cultural sense, no she was just this side of albino.  So, obviously she became “White Lady”.  I didn’t say we were too inventive.

The nurse who had such an issue with my partner and I when our son was born became “Nurse Ratchet”.

The technician who tortured Bashert with the mammography machine was the “Mammogram Nazi”.  (Nazi becomes a good universal.)

My Dad’s mother who was quite large, became “Great Big Grandma” or “Great Big” after my nephew as a small boy got confused with the relationship great-grandmother.   At the same time my mother, his grandmother hence forth became “Little Grandma”.  He still calls her Little.

One of my daughter’s less savory boyfriends – “The Troll”.

Then there was the embarrassing incident with Bashert and I that involved “The Guy on the Ladder”. Again, not inventive, but practical.

The name calling is not always confined to people.

When we were in college, Bashert had the entire Art Department calling the sculpture lab “downstairs”.  The sculpture labs were down the hill across campus from the the 2D labs – made sense.  I think its still called that to this day.

When I was going through my horrid, nasty nine year divorce, my mother kept a file at her house with all pertinent information labeled as “Roosevelt”.  My ex (referred to in writing as AH – you figure that one out) left on D-Day.

One of my favorites was invented by Mom. She refers to that American treasure, Wal-Mart as the SOD.  Shop of the Damned.  Go ahead, deny that one.

So, until the day when I choose or have permission to let the world know what their true identities are we shall remain known as Bashert (my beautiful, meant to be partner), Yoda (our son) and Neneé (our daughter) and our cast of yet unnamed others.

And be on the watch – you never know when you may be called a name.

Are you ready for some futball? I’m not.

I’m not much on soccer.

Last time I played was in sixth grade.  I was the goalie, but never understood why I couldn’t come out of my little box. I once ran the ball all the way down the field only to find the coach and all my team mates standing back with mouths agape. Yeah, my soccer career didn’t last long.

We tried putting our son in the YMCA league, but that didn’t work out either.  We spent the first four years of his life telling him to share and then told him he needed to get the ball away.  Very confusing.  He didn’t like staying in the little box either.

I must admit I caught the fever in 1999 when the USA women’s team marched to the World Cup finals.  My partner and I watched the match with two friends.  I think we scared them with our, shall we say, exuberant couch coaching and celebrations.

But there’s really not been much since then.

It’s been with dispassionate interest that I’ve been watching my friends’ exchanges on Facebook about this year’s World Cup.  I wasn’t sure if I was up to the same fever pitch as 12 years ago.  Outside of the US, I was clueless as to who was playing.

But there was something mentioned about a Wombat, Han Solo and a singing coach, so I my curiosity got the better of me when my partner suggested watching the match and I said why not?

We ordered some delivery chinese food, took up our places in front of the couch and readied ourselves for the game.

Ah, they were playing the Japanese team. It turned out to be Abby Wombach and Hope Solo.  It was far more interesting the other way.  Apparently, the coach does sing though.

We were all very enthusiastic in the beginning.  Then slowly we sort of drifted away.  Our son went back to his game of Bejeweled®, my partner worked on her writing and I dozed on the couch.

Its not that it wasn’t an exciting match.  It was filled with skill and speed.  A nail biter all the way to the last penalty kick.  And up to a certain point I was all in the “Go USA” zone.

Its just that it was, well – soccer.

I must apologize up front to many of my friends, some of whom are die hard fans and others actual players. Soccer is just doesn’t run in my blood.

To meet me in person, one might think I was in to all kinds of sports, at least you would have before my last few years of stress eating and the resultant non-muscle bulk up and ever encroaching grey hair.  But no, not a sports nut.

I’m more the High Holiday sort of sports fan.  I watch maybe a game or two of the World Series and the Super Bowl, but that’s about it.  I do enjoy a good Iron Man competition though.  How many of those stones could you lift?

Anyway, back to soccer or rather my disinterest in soccer.

Soccer is a game of speed, skill and courage.  I couldn’t manage a game now if my life depended on it.  Going upstairs in a hurry leave me breathless these days. I am in awe of those who can play.  It’s a stamina that is most amazing.

In other countries, soccer is the impetus of riots, something over here usually reserved for political rallies and rock concerts.  Me, I can’t see rioting over much anything except maybe the argument over the correct pronunciation of the word pecan or if there should be sugar in your iced tea.

Soccer just doesn’t float my boat that way.  All that running about, butting the ball with your head – just looks like an invitation for a major headache and broken bones. And what’s with only one break?

No, soccer is definitely not in my soul.

More power to you soccer people.

Just don’t ask for my card.

Tybee Island Burn

Tonight on the drive home, aside from counting how many times John Tesh could say his own name in 40 minutes (20), I was humored to hear Rick Springfield’s song, Jesse’s Girl.  Flashbacks came from that summer it first came out.

It was 1981 and I was not quite 20, ready to take on some of my own adventures.   Recall from a previous entry that my family adventures usually end up in predicaments.

A solo drive to Tybee Island Beach was in order.  Tybee was the beach we grew up on before it became the celeb magnet it is today.

I packed up my 1968 canary yellow Triumph TR250, with its red wall tires and no speedometer to head to the beach.

Of course at that age, my idea of packing up involved a bathing suit, towel, one change of clothing and a cooler filled with iced Mello Yellow.

I had recently lost a good deal of weight and was going to be sporting a two piece suit for the first time since I was probably, oh – five.

Before I pulled out of the driveway, my mother admonished me to be careful, watch the road and not get burned.

The ride down was great.  It was the first time I had traveled any real distance in the car by myself.  My parents didn’t allow us to get driver’s licenses until we hit 17 and had taken driver’s ed. I remember feeling very accomplished.

The top was down and freedom sang in the wind. I kept with the traffic to keep an even speed.  The police tend to be attracted to bright yellow sports cars almost as much as the hello, officer red ones and my parents would have killed me if I came home with a little blue slip.

Classical music blared from the cassette deck.  How mature and sophisticated.

I didn’t even let the kids in the Statesboro McDonald’s, who so rudely asked if I was a boy or a girl get me down.  I simply opened the door of my cool sports car and pretended to be from some European country and didn’t speak English.  I peeled out of the lot laughing at my genius.

I arrived at the beach around 10am, set up my towel and cooler, stripped down to my awesome red and white two piece bathing suit and proceeded to fry myself during the four hours of most direct sunlight one is now cautioned to stay out of.

Never touched the water.  Nope.  Peter Benchley had seen to the end of my ocean swimming days in 1974.  I had a hardback first edition of Jaws and whatever my imagination didn’t fill in from the book, the movie sealed a year later, despite the fact there hadn’t been an observed shark off the coast of Georgia since 1932.

I dutifully turned over every 15 – 30 minutes and remembered to stay hydrated by downing several of the Mello Yellows.  Nineteen year olds can be rather stupid.

Jesse’s Girl played several times that afternoon on radios across the beach.  I seem to recall having a bit of a conversation with a cute guy concerning the catchy tune.  Strike one – talking to strangers on the beach, not safe.

Around 2pm, I called it quits.  I mean, there’s only so much basking one can do.  I think I had finished my book, too. I packed up my stuff, pulled on my clothes, made the requisite visit to Chu’s and the Sugar Shack and then headed into Savannah.  I wanted to stop by and visit with my grandmother before I left for home.

Mama was delighted to see me and I her.  She tried to convince me to stay the night because it was a first Saturday in Savannah.  She and my aunt (of the desert drowning incident) were going to the Riverfront to walk around and enjoy the evening’s entertainment.

I said no, that I had to get on back.  I had promised my mom not to be too late getting home.  Ah, the days before cell phones and easy access. I could have called, but it would have cost my grandmother for the long distance.

So, I bid Mama farewell and got back on the road.  It wasn’t long before I started feeling strange.  My legs seemed tender inside my jeans and I felt unusually cold.  I pulled off the highway and put the top up on the canary.

I was so distracted that I ended up taking the turn off of I16 too early.  I took the 80 exit instead of the 17.  I’d never been on 80 by myself.  I basically had no idea where I was headed, but figured if I stayed on the highway I would eventually recognize something.  Strike two – watch the road.

It was about 10 miles down the 80 highway when the real chills started.  I couldn’t figure it out.  I was hot as blazes, but shivering.  My clothing was beginning to feel tight.

I was never so happy as to find out that 80 dumped right into Statesboro.  I was half way home.

The next hour or so on the road I don’t remember so well.  I do remember walking into the house, smiling that I had come full circle of my lone adventure and then seeing my mother’s face.  She seemed a bit, shall we say, perturbed.  Strike three – don’t get burned.

People, I was so red I was glowing.  You could feel the heat emanating from my body. And over the course of the next 24 hours, my extremities became so swollen that I could push my finger into my leg and the dent would stay. Blisters developed on my legs, back, chest and face.

I had second degree sunburn all over my two piece bathing suit exposed body.

My individual career as an adventurer had begun, marked by an incredibly stupid afternoon spent in the sun, a great car and a cheesy 80’s pop tune.

Life was good, painful, but good.  Jesse’s Girl will always make me smile…and wince.