Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Style Comes Naturally

"We'll just run on down to Macon and eat with your Grandmother, then we'll push through to Albany and stay with Fred's Grandmother tonight before we make the final leg through to the beach", Hank said on Friday before the 4th of July. "It'll be like a tour of the Grandmothers" he remarked as we loaded up the Tahoe with a 19' Hewes Redfisher flats boat in tow (Fred's).

After dinner Buster walked out of Grandma's house and, as he casually urinated on William's front right tire, said "Well, I see Fred's boat. Where's Fred? Do you mean to tell me you left Fred in Atlanta to work, and took his boat with YOU to HIS house four whole days before he could get there?"

"That about sums it up" said Hank; not sure where to look.

"Hank. I like your style" said Buster as we pulled away.

"I really like your uncle" hank said on the way down the driveway. "I sort of feel like I could call him from the boat, on the water, with pieces of the motor all in my lap and he could fix it over the phone."

And actually - he was right. That's happened to me.

As an unemployed patron of the arts, I had agreed to make the trip down for a few days of intense fishing with Fred, Hank, and Judson at Fred's family's house on the coast in Florida; before coasting across to Seaside to hang out with Tyler, and my friends Courtney and John Willis for the festivities on the 4th.

It wasn't until we arrived at "Fred's family's beach house" that I realized - Fred's entire family RENTED the house; and they were all there. "Why?" You may ask? Because they were on their annual family vacation....and we were too. We had joined them on their family vacation.

"Dude, did you realize this was their FAMILY VACATION?" I asked Hank, when I realized the full import of what had happened - "And FRED isn't even going to be here for 4 more days!!!"

"Yeah! Hank grinned. "We're crashing Judson's family vacation too! Its going to be awesome!"

Turns out - Judson's house (where we were also invited to stay) had a few other vacationers in it as well: his wife, mother-in-law, and 2-month-old infant child (whose name I still don't know). I think the baby was a girl, but for some reason the term "Corn Niblet" stuck and, as you know, "Corn Niblet" is pretty generic; so I'm still not entirely sure.

I will say that Judson's wife, Janet, accepted our intrusion with a display of grace and style eclipsed only by her beauty; and his mother-in-law was incredibly welcoming as well; especially given that we were generally sweaty and obnoxious for a vast majority of the trip.

Janet even offered me a sammich on our first day; just as we walked in - something I take very seriously. She and I understand each other. She also taught me quite alot about breastfeeding which, as you know, I find simultaneously horrific and fascinating.

We actually spent the night at Fred's, though, so Janet was off the hook. My initial thought once we got settled in (with his family), was that we were in business - his mom and dad were there so, naturally, I figured we were set as far as somebody taking care of dinner arrangements was concerned. I continued to think that up until about suppertime, at which point Fred's Dad looked at me and said "Jimmy - why don't you get started on dinner? But first, take out that trash."

It was at this juncture that I realized: we were the hired help, and I began to feel a little bit less like an interloper. Fortunately for me Hank stepped in to respond concerning dinner plans and said "We're about to start on the shrimp and grits. We'll be ready in 45 minutes." By the time we left we had established a general routine for dinner after getting off the boat and, once Fred arrived, we were a well-oiled machine. I also grew to be intimately familiar with Fred's dad's need to operate in a completely trash-free environment. If the bag got more than half-full, he'd get extremely nervous. It was my job to keep the man from getting nervous; and boys, let me tell you: GLAD BAG's annual revenue went up a half a point in July thanks to my vigilance.

I also learned that it pays to keep Hank around, generally, if for nothing other than his cooking skills; and uncanny ability to fall out of a boat.

Suppers for the week were fabulous; mostly due to Hank and his natural skill with a skillet and grill; but the table fare was helped along something fierce by a regular infusion of fresh-caught trout, redfish, and scallops. We even snagged a shark or two.

Dinner conversation was unequalled. Mr. and Mrs. Hand, Eleanor (Fred's sister), Hank, Fred's girlfriend Kelly, and even Fred himself provided a warm, hospitable, environment full of interesting characters and a constant sense of adventure. Eleanor even took us "scalloping" - the only activity of the week that put us in direct contact with the game warden (although several others might have put us in the back of his truck).

When DNR pulled up I was busily urinating over the transom. Our luck had extended so far this trip that the lawman didn't even give me a ticket for public indecency, but he did laugh when he saw me twist around at his approach and accidentally pee on the gunnel...directly into my own snorkel mask.

I figure he must've felt sorry for me. After all: its not just everyday you see a man pee in his own eye.

No comments: