Beaches are sacred places to me. There are many of us who believe that seashores are locales where the physical and metaphysical realms meld. We go to the ocean to bask in nature and to admire evidence of a reality beyond what is perceptible to our senses.
Some very good people don’t view beaches the same way we do. They’re not beach people. Maybe they go to mountains, canyons, forests, rivers, lakes or deserts to find spiritual guidance. Perhaps they find all the divinity they need in churches. It’s all good. We all have the right to believe what we want to believe. To pray where we want to pray. In many ways we’re all part of the same massive congregation. The beach is just where I happen to attend services.
Anyone who would steal from my sanctuary, any sanctuary, are societal leeches. Sand fleas. Bed begs. Mosquitos and noseems. Sucking blood from good people and limping through life as if the world owes them a favor.
So, here’s the lowdown. The misadventures of a clown. And this time I’m not referring to myself.
I’d placed my stuff on a sand bluff overlooking the pond drainage wash that meets the ocean in the upper-60ish avenue neighborhood. My sneakers and a felt hoody. I thought there was a good chance that I’d go for one of my last swims of the year. The ocean temperature was 76 degrees. Plenty warm enough for a quick dip, especially considering the mid-to-upper 60s air temperature.
Stuff on a bluff. With one exception. I’d pushed one of my shark tooth necklaces into the toe of a sneaker.
That shark tooth is one of the nicest, most unique teeth I’ve found in the 44 years that I’ve hunted for fossils here along the Grand Strand. A shell-colored, prehistoric mako tooth 1 1/2 inches from gum to its sharp tip, complete with the slightest hints of lateral cusplets (cusplets are commonly seen on sand tiger shark teeth — those long, pointy ones — on either side of the main cusp). I’d found it this past summer while digging in the banks of the Intracoastal Waterway and I’d just wrapped it two weeks ago. It’s priceless to me.
Notice how I refer to the tooth in the present. That’s because the tooth is still out there. It’s no longer in my possession, but it’s out there. One day I hope to be walking along the beach and see it around the guy’s neck. I have a pretty good idea who the criminal is, but I just want to be sure. I don’t even know why. If he’s stupid enough to be wearing it — ’cause I’ll remember exactly what it looks like — I hope he’s replaced the light leather strap on which I wore it. I hope that beautiful tooth dangles from a stainless steel chain. I don’t want my DNA to be near his DNA unless I’m aware of it.
I’m a fairly peaceful guy. But I felt like tearing it from this pencil neck geek’s scruff. What I really felt like doing was ripping him apart. The way a giant, prehistoric mako once shredded it’s prey. But many GOOD people have told me since then I shouldn’t lower myself to his level.
I’ve listened. The beach bum abides.
Editor’s note: This three-part series is dedicated with love to my grandparents, all of whom have passed away: Madeline “Mattie” and James “Cork” Fenstermacher of Sunbury and Blanche and Gordon “Gordie” Hufnagle of Lewisburg. All good people. Part III will focus entirely on people like them. It will be published Monday.