Monday, May 18, 2020

Sunday Morning

In the middle of a deadly dull afternoon, I stumbled over to Home on the Range where I read A River Rogue, and was inspired to recall the ocean and the beach at Jacksonville (FL) and the way I'd spend my Sunday mornings.

I always liked the water.  Especially the ocean, with the horizon and sun rises on the east coast of Florida, early in the morning after a night of drinking and dancing.  I'd get a few hours of sleep, then I'd hit the deck and drive out to Jax Beach, where I'd watch the sunrise.  Then I'd head over to the Sea Turtle Inn, where they served an excellent breakfast buffet and had an outdoor patio.  I'd help myself to a Sunday paper (courtesy of the hotel) and have my breakfast outdoors, where I'd read my paper in peace.  Then the church people would invade my tranquility.

Mother and Father Church with their little Churches, all scrubbed within an inch of their lives, their clothing heavy with starch, would come trooping inside, making as much noise as a hockey team.  They'd greet their friends like they hadn't seen each other in months, and the women all spoke in italics and exclamation points, "We didn't know you were coming here! We'll have to sit together!"

The kids, inspired by Father Church and his promises of corporal punishment,  have been forced to sit quietly through a deadly dull sermon and be nice to the corpulent lady in the flowered dress who has a problem with her digestive system that would take the rust off a junkyard bed spring, are now free at last! and ready to cut loose.  Primal instinct demands the little darlings run to the buffet, least they be last in line and forced to wait politely for three eternities while the senior citizens in front of them try to decide between a cuckoo clock and a ball joint.  These are the same senior citizens that the kids would be in front of if only their parents hadn't grabbed them and forced them to walk slowly, thus allowing the infirm and the demented to take a preferred position nearer the front of the line - and the food.

My own dear mother forced the same behavior on me when we were at a Sunday morning buffet.  I was around eight years old, and Mom explained that it's polite to let the older people go first.  I buttoned up and waited politely, but when my turn at the hog trough finally came (after three false starts - the old banshee in front of me kept taking a half step away, then turning back, causing me to make the start-stop-backup jerk), Mom tried to hustle me through the line.  Again, I kept my trap shut - until we were on our way home.  Then I asked Mom rather bluntly why she was trying to hustle me along.

"Because you were taking too long."

"No I wasn't!  Besides, I waited for those three old ladies, and they took a long time and wouldn't hurry up."

"That's different."

"What do you mean, that's different?"

"Because it is.  Now shushup."

"Why?  What's different?"

At this point Dad decided to chime in, mainly because Mom was blowing it.

"You just behave yourself, and that's all there is to it."

"But they took all the time they wanted and I had to wait, then when I get up there Mom grabs everything and doesn't let me help myself.  That isn't fair!  Didn't you see them?"

"Sure I saw 'em.  Hell, they're slow and they don't give a good god-damn about anyone else.  I didn't enjoy waiting for 'em either, standing around while they try and make up their god-damned minds about just what in the hell they were going to have, but that's what you do."



"Well, you could put it a little more diplomatically."

"Well hell, what would you call it?  They screwed around and screwed around and screwed around, while the rest of the people had to wait."


I felt better.  I learned to wait, and I learned to open doors and lend a hand to anyone with gray in their hair, but that morning I learned just why I was doing that - because that's what you do.  Understand?

Back in Florida, I tolerate the Church families longer than a civilized man should be forced to do.  When they invade the patio I leave my paper and hit the Men's Room, where I remove the closed for cleaning sign and change into my swim trunks.  Then I walk out to the beach and make myself comfortable with my chair, sun block, book and beverage.  In a few hours the moms 'n kids arrive.

The married moms wear their wedding rings and carry fifty pound picnic hampers stuffed with sixty pounds of junk, sugar, and caffeine.  They try valiantly to control their rug rats, but to no avail.  They're always nervous, and looking around for help or something.  Most could lose a few pounds, while the others are in bad shape.  They may be worried about the Old Man, who was supposed to come with them but begged off because he has to wash the truck, mow the yard, and fix the linoleum in the family room that's always coming up.  In reality, the truck got washed because he ran it through the car wash on his way to the beer and wine carryout.  Half the lawn is mowed.  He's inside, sitting in the TV room drinking beer and watching the game.  Mom and the kids will be home around four, she to get dinner ready, the kids to whine and cry about being sunburned to a crisp.  Then the oldest one slaps the youngest on his sunburned back, and the howling starts in earnest.  Here's where the kids learn that sunburn lotion doesn't work.

Single moms have a beach bag, a book, and a chair.  Every single one of them wears a hat.  Each child is placed in a headlock and smeared with SPF 55+ sun block, then is turned lose.  The kids run to the edge of the ocean with Indian war whoops and play in the waves.  Mom smears herself with sunblock, then reads her book, situating herself so she can look over the top of the book every few seconds and see her kids playing in the surf.  When the kids come back, they get carrots, celery, and water.  Then the kids take off again.  These moms don't wear any jewelry.  They have two piece bathing suits that will stay put during a crises.

I admire one mother out of the corner of my eye.  She has an intellectual look about her, and she's reading a thick volume on philosophy.  I'd like to take her out drinking and dancing.

In the middle of the afternoon I pack up and head to my favorite marina bar for lunch.  I have very shallow thoughts, and my needs are easily met.  If I owned a sailboat, I could put the land on my starboard side until I hit Miami, then make a hard left and keep sailing until I smacked into an island.  That's the Bahamas.

But happy hour is only 90 minutes away.


CWMartin said...

Enjoyed, but a bit confused why Blogger warned me about 'adult content'. Maybe it was the sunblock...

Ed Bonderenka said...

Same here. I prepared to be assaulted with some gruesome photo. Or not so gruesome.
With much trepidation, I clicked....

Mad Jack said...

At least you two were brave enough (or foolhardy enough) to actually click on the continue button.

Actually, I have a gadfly who reads my posts about oriental massage parlors and leaves decidedly unflattering anonymous comments about the author and his rare contributors. I decided to try the Adults Only button and see if anything changed.

Glen Filthie said...

I grew up in a pozzed, Godless shitlib family. There is no peace in families; the best you can achieve is controlled aggression and rivalry. And as for those clueless, doddering geezers... there but for the grace of God go I. 😆👍

Mad Jack said...

Glen: True enough I suppose, but it never made waiting for them any easier.

I eliminated the problem of the interminable wait during a church fellowship meal. One elderly man, who I liked and whose company I enjoyed, was too frail to stand in line. Knowing that our tastes in food were close enough for Samaritan work, I gave him my plate and went back for seconds. I think he appreciated it.