Sunday, April 11, 2010

How Postcards Get Made

More stories from the traveling circus.

My favorite trip was when we went to Cocoa Beach, Florida, very early in my career. We had this brilliant mix of people. There were four younger people all around my age and two retirees who had seen it all and were not afraid to join in the fun. I would later learn that the gentleman used to work in television and had directed an HBO award winning documentary. The lady was a fireball. She had worked in construction all of her life and had the language and jokes to prove it. I was still having trouble being shy around strangers, but I felt at ease with these folks by the end of the first night.

At our first dinner I was seated next to the older gentleman. He was in is early 60s and seemed very nice. I had just come from an office where I worked with a bunch of pastors his age. At that point all the men I knew at his age were the deacon types. I didn't know they came any other way and while they taught me to relate, I still was nervous around older men I did not know.

He made polite small talk with me between the jokes at the table. I had started to feel comfortable enough to talk to him and the whole atmosphere had me relaxed. The waiter served our dinners. I don't remember what I had, but I will never forget that he ordered the peel and eat shrimp. When he got his plate, I couldn't stop staring at it trying to figure out what it was. It turned out to be an overturned wooden salad bowl for him to put the peels in, but I couldn't see anything but a giant turtle shell. He saw me looking at it and leaned in close as if to tell me a secret. So, I leaned over. He lifting the bowl to reveal the shrimp; smiled slyly and offered an invitation. "Hey little girl, do you want to try my little shrimp?"

I pulled back and kept glancing from him to the shrimp trying to decide if he knew what he said and if he did, did he mean it as a joke. Then he wagged his eyebrows at me. I blushed from forehead to neck and buried my face in my hands laughing hysterically. When everyone wanted an explanation, I looked at him to explain. He was wearing the most innocent face I have ever seen. Seeing him sitting there looking like a wolf in sheep's clothing was too much and I had another laughing fit. That weekend was more like a vacation than a job.

Because our team was so large, we had to travel in two cars. It seemed natural to split by age. It was probably a good decision because the four of us drove around like teenagers. Everything was funny, the music was always loud and, best of all, we were constantly driving down Highway A1A. The first time I saw it, I started chanting Ice, Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice. No one understood the connection until I reminded them of the line, "the block was dead, yo. So I continued to A1A, Beach Front Avenue." Which ended up turning into the magic word for the trip. Every time we turned on to that street, the driver would yell, "A1A!" and the rest of the car would respond by yelling, "BEACH FRONT AVENUE!"

One night, we ended up on the beach. The setting was unforgettably beautiful and still clear in my mind. The sky was cloudless and the moon was close to full. Because the sand was so white, it reflected the light and made it bright enough to see naturally. I grew up in Oregon where the coastline is wild, rocky and severe. I had never seen a beach like they show in tropical pictures. We were all just taking it in when we came across a carcass.

We could not figure out what it was. At the time we debated about it being a seal or a baby manatee. The reason it was hard to be sure is because it was only the top half of the body. We imagined it had been bit in half by a shark. Of course, after we had figured out what it was, the guys' first reaction was to find a stick so they could poke it. After they had satisfied their curiosity and released the horrible stench trapped in the body, we moved on. One of the guys said he would come back and take a photo of it so he could make a postcard. The rest of the walk back was spent discussing what the best caption to add to the photo would be.

Hands down, the winner was, "Looking for tail in Cocoa Beach."

PS - The difference between boys and girls:

No comments:

Post a Comment