“You’ve never been swimming in the ocean!?”
Hack didn’t believe me. I lived on the Gulf for almost a year and never once touched the water there. The beaches are man-made, the water brown and filthy. Swimming was low on my to-do list.
Rhode Island, on the other hand, was beautiful. Despite the rocky coast, the beaches were sunny and warm. We hunted unsuccessfully for lobster. The only clawed shellfish we could find were two mating crabs. We harassed them, but they refused to separate.
I don’t even own swimming trunks. I’ve purchased several pairs, but I have a habit of frequently paring down my wardobe to eliminate anything that isn’t a black Hanes T-shirt. I put on a pair of grappling shorts and charged into the water.
The first wave hit me at chest level, stopping me in my tracks. I turned to see how far I had made it from the beach when the second wave, much smaller than the first, hit me at the knees and knocked me flat on my ass.
I struggled to my feet, spitting up a mouthful of briney seawater. The tide was going out, with four foot swells. Determined to prove the ocean wrong, I swam at full tilt toward an incoming breaker . . . and was tossed ass over tea kettle in water over my head.
I surfaced, pointed myself toward shore, and was nearly drowned by the next breaker. I have always considered myself a strong swimmer. However, I am accustomed to in-ground pools where nothing is trying to kill me.
I stumbled out of the water with all eyes on me. I could hear their thoughts:
You’ve never been swimming in the ocean!?
Maybe I was just feeling self-concious. Or maybe they were staring because the ocean puked an angry-looking, tattooed man out on their private beach.
Feeling seasick, I wobbled over to our cooler and swallowed a mouthful of Wild Turkey. Thankfully, 100-proof whiskey is a stronger flavor than “ocean”. A few more swigs and I gathered my bearings. I proceeded back into the water, more cautious this time.
Hack floated on the surf like nothing was happening.
I eventually got the hang of things, body-surfing the waves and venturing farther out from shore. Later that night we went swimming in one of the tidal ponds. Hack found another crab. I took it by the legs and used it as a discus.
“It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.” – Hunter S. Thompson