Sea Side Stories

By Dave

Finster Follies

This afternoon, Goober and I went up the road to see how Paddy and Gore were doing. I left Goober in the driveway and pounded on the big wooden slab that passes for Gore’s front door. Seems Gore got a good deal on a big chunk of redwood some years ago and, being unable to part with it, decided to build a showplace door with it. It’s a great door, but it weighs about four hundred pounds, maybe another hundred after a week of squalls (Gore couldn’t bear to seal the door and lose that perfect redwoodiness), and takes just about all your strength to open and close. This great leviathan of a door swung open, and there stood the sports page from the Viêt Báo Daily News, the classifieds from the Monterey Gazette, the Portland Pilot’s business section, and the Wall Street Journal’s front page. Obviously, Gore was not only well-dressed, but well-read. And Gore’s a man who thrives on variety when it comes to his reading material, so the newspapers that become his clothing are vetted carefully, and he tries to source different papers weekly. Where he gets his plethora of papers is yet another mystery of the cosmos. I wouldn’t mind finding out, but I don’t want to pry. Anyway, Gore invited me in, and we did an air hug so I didn’t get newsprint on my clothes.

Paddy had the TV on in the living room and was doing VHS aerobics, something she does without fail, and without results.
I should probably interject a salient point here: I truly admire Paddy’s devotion to her fitness. I keep fit with nearly daily walks or hikes in the coast range or down to the beach and some serious time in my home gym. Gore throws fishing lines ambidextrously and does his one-arm, 12-ounce curls, also ambidextrously, so there’s that. Paduca isn’t into hiking, disdains weight training, dislikes fishing, and doesn’t like beer, so there go our fitness ideas. I just don’t quite understand how Paddy enjoys bouncing around in front of an old VHS tape of a goofball in short shorts yelling instructions about how to ‘work that booty!’, but maybe I’m just not in step with whatever it is Paddy’s in step with. I suspect she’s in step with being out of step, but who really knows, and who decides what’s in step or out of it? Anyway…

Paddy yelped a sweaty greeting, as Gore and I climbed the stairs to the whale-watching room, which is a lovely, all-glass space sprouting from the top of the house. Gore insists on calling it the whale-watching room, despite only spotting three whales from it in the nineteen years since he built it. We surveyed the expanse of water for half an hour in silence, spotting one ray, a school of bluegill, and our local sea lion—but no whales. I suspect Gore’s extreme near-sightedness and astigmatisms have something to do with his impressive failure rate in this regard, because I’ve spotted dozens of whales from up there. Just not today. But today’s whale-
not-watching was livened up by the generous helpings of Bailey’s we kept close by. Whale-watching (or not-watching in this case), silence, and Bailey’s, are three important facets of life around here.

We were roused from this exciting activity by the sounds of a commotion out in the driveway. After sliding down the fireman’s pole next to the stairs (a fireman’s pole is, around here, an essential design element in all multi-story structures), and muscling open the front door, we ran, slowly (because Gore’s clothes don’t do too well in wind), up the long and winding road…I mean driveway, and discovered Goober had neatly semi-removed the upper third of Conkwright’s right ear. Conkwright is Gore’s poodle, or should I say, Gore’s canine-like creature. Gore named her after the late knuckleheaded lieutenant who commanded Gore’s platoon in Vietnam, which is not only an unfortunate thing to do to a dog, but also tells you a lot about the personality of the little mutt: capricious, irrational, and often irascible. The two dogs usually coexist, and often romp together, but Conk torments Goober when she feels the need, and he usually just ignores her, but this time when she snapped at his tail, as she perversely loves to do, he turned around and had aural dessert. Conkwright was doing that injured-dog thing, where they circle around and bat at the injured place with their paw, as if batting an already injured place would somehow make it feel better, and Goober was sitting there watching and, it appeared to me, smiling. I did notice, however, that he assumed a faux-contrite air as I faux-glared at him. I offered to pay for the damages, but Gore just shook his head and said the knothead (I love how Gore slips into Uncle Charlie-speak now and then) had it coming, and he was surprised Conkwright hadn’t been drowned by a sea lion or run over by now, anyway, so I shouldn’t worry. However, in the spirit of animal husbandry, Gore held Conkwright while I stitched her ear back together, and then we went back into the house to see how Paddy was doing with her aerobics.

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