Black Friday ended for me in regards to social interactions more light than dark, more white than black, but it seemed for awhile that clouds would get in the way, but isn’t it rich that it would take encounters with a 12 or 13-year-old and the postman, not to mention the kindness of a neighbor, for me to emerge from a spirit-dampening shadow cast by an increasingly impersonal society that’s been invaded by far too many selfish, unmannered people. I’m focusing first on the positive. Always better to focus on the positive. The Little Engine That Could. Chug-a-lug-a-lug-a-lug. Whoo. Whoo. The Friday after Thanksgiving came to a close brilliantly, but I haven’t been able to document it till now because a virus sickened and shut down my computer for three-plus days. Heading home from the beach on the west side of Highway 17 Business, I nearly tripped over a mid-sized wicker table that a good person and friendly neighbor left outside with glass taped tightly to the top of the table’s frame, making it easier for me to carry home four blocks east and three blocks north. Ye-es! Yes sir-ee! Thank-ee, neighbor. The table fits well within the white-washed, plywood-paneled walls of my cabana; two rooms adorned throughout with little more than book cases, a fossil cabinet and tables covered with sharks’ teeth and other ancient, Poseidon relics stored in an aquarium, bottles, jars, a small wooden chest and a plastic serving dish shaped like a fish. Numerous ocean-related wall hangings and decorative items, including a tide clock, a Mary Lee-themed dharma-beach-bum clock and simple objects like plastic, marine-themed figurines from Red Rose tea boxes. Ahoy, mateys! Welcome to me boneyard. Yeah, my bungalow resembles a tiny, natural history museum more than it does a home.
I was nearly back at the museum doing the duck walk with the wicker table weighing heavily in front of me when the youngster asked me if I needed a hand. He and a friend had just been hanging from a tree trying to reach an inflatable beach ball stuck on a lower branch. I chuckled recalling earlier times when I did the same. I thought, twice, about helping them before realizing that they were very close to their goal. They looked like they were having so much fun, more fun than they had with the ball, so I just kept chuckling. Earlier times? I’d do it right now, but I don’t want to give The Man a reason to stop me again. Less than a month ago I was stopped for the fifth time in the last eight years while walking to or from the beach. Five times. Five times. Five times. Oh, it’s true. It’s true. Oh no, Yoko-Oh-No. Can’t let that happen without sayin’ something. Numerous people have told me that the police are just doing their jobs when they stop me. No, it’s not their job to harass a civic-minded local doing his thing after profiling him because he wears his hair longer than most of his age and is draped in the attire of a beach bum. Those stops impede my freedom to peacefully enjoy nature. They put a damper on my experiences. Albeit briefly. I know the police have a tough job here and I respect them for it. This is a community through which transients pass. Many of them homeless. At least two Myrtle Beach police officers have lost their lives in the line of duty. The murder of Joe McGarry affected me greatly. My Lord. My Lord. What his poor family has endured. Can’t imagine the hell they’ve been through. Hope I never have to. Don’t know if I could. Joe was killed Dec. 29, 2002, while confronting a suspect outside a doughnut shop. Just 2 1/2 years after I moved here. To this day I get a lump in my throat when I see articles marking that horrible anniversary. As far as I know, the cop killer still sits on death row pending appeals, having been given repeated chances to save his own life even though he callously took the life of a man to whom he gave no chance. I’m not much in favor of the death penalty anymore, but I can’t wait for justice to be served in this case (or in the case of Scott Peterson). Back on topic: the MBPD officers stopping me weeks ago said I sort of looked like “Charlie,” whom they were seeking. So now I sort of look like “Charlie.” Before I sort of looked like a rapist with a scar on his forehead. The spotlight in my face in the wee hours of the morn blinded me and I was asked to lift my bangs Yikes. Dressed down by the gestapo. Nice. Nice! The summer before last I apparently sort of looked like a, gasp, homosexual when stopped as part of a sting operation just after leaving a beach access and starting across Ocean Boulevard. “Do you know anywhere I can go for a cruuiisse? I’m new to town and I was just looking to have some fuuunnn. You know where I can find any adult bookstores? Get some, uh, guy-on-guy reading materiiaal.” This guy was a terrible actor — one who kept looking over his shoulder checking for back up, as if he’d need it with little ol’ me, Underdog. His questioning seemed endless and, having read him from the start, I was starting to get edgy. My suspicions of him were confirmed when I passed a police cruiser sitting idle less than three blocks away. “Wow. Whoa. Hidely ho! Apparently I sort of look like a homosexual rapist named Charlie. Thrown back into the identity crisis from which I’d recently emerged with the founding of this blog. That sucked. It’s like I told the latest goofball, “No, I’m not Charlie. I’m Rob. Live just up the street where I’ve been in the same neighborhood for ten years.” “Well, we’re just riding around trying to find Charlie.” “Nope. Not me. I’m just a beach bum.” The cops just wouldn’t take my word for it and the driver asked for my license. What can I say? Being profiled because of my preferred style just isn’t my bag, man. Not everyone wearing a rucksack is homeless and the vast majority of those without homes are decent people. Wonder how the driver would have felt if I assumed he was a skinhead because his noggin was shaved down to the scalp? “Uh, officer. You sort of look like a neo-Nazi white separatist and I disdain racism. May I see identification? And let me see your badge, please, I want to make sure it’s not fake.” What? That’s what they were saying to me. His likely response: “Hands behind your back. You just got yourself a one-way ticket to the hoosegow.” Cha-chink. Off to the clink. An idea about which I don’t care to think. Concentrate on the positive, bum. Focus on the good side of humanity. I thanked that kid. Told him I was nearly home but it was so nice of him to have asked. Then he suggested there was a shopping cart somebody left on the fringes of a wooded lot. That youngster was mature and wise beyond his years. Told him that, too. Yip, yip, yip, yahoo-ee! Hope for the future. Great hope. Ye-es! I’d just put the table down in front of my apartment when the postman did a U-turn in the parking lot. He smiled and said, “Package.” Reminded me of Speedy Delivery in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood. “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. A beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be my..” Smiled. Waved. Thanked him and wished him a good day. I hope the postal service is never privatized. The USPS is one of the few government agencies that I trust and it fills me with pride when I enter a post office and those daily deliveries have a way of warming our hearts. Doesn’t it make you feel good seeing the same familiar, friendly face every day? Our interactions with postal workers serve us well. A tie that binds our slowly deteriorating society.
Earlier that afternoon I’d just stepped onto the beach, relatively empty this time of year, from the wooden walkway at the east end of 65th Avenue North here in Myrtle Beach, when I encountered two middle-aged surfers and one of the surfers’ sons, surveying the waves. Three counting one of the surfers’ sons. I passed the kid first. He was roughly the same age as the young man of whom I’d previously written. Said hello to him and he didn’t even bother to look at me through his long bangs. Okay, I thought. That’s just a kid being a kid, enjoying his hobby and admiring nature as I do. That’s fine. Said hello to the two aging hipsters and neither of them blinked. Sad, sad, sad. Aye yigh yigh. Woe is I. Arrogant sumbitches. Disgraceful. Oy vey! Keep walking, bum. Keep head high and keep walking. Not worth saying anything. Not on the beach. One of the guys looks like the superb actor, Miguel Ferrer, notorious for playing the bad guy, especially earlier in his career. Ferrer is the son of actor Jose Ferrer and singer Rosemary Clooney. Bitter Spicoli was so close to me I could smell garlic on his breath. I’ve seen him often on the beach and he has yet to return a greeting. His buddy wasn’t any better, just a few feet farther away. Recognized him, too. My likening of the aging surfer dudes to “bad guys” isn’t profiling. It’s giving them too much credit. Ignorance breeds ignorance. We’re misleading our children in many ways. Ferrer look-a-like is bestowing a lousy legacy on his son: a self-centered outlook and a lack of respect for fellow human beings. In some cases, our children learn from us to be bullies. Then we wonder why crazy looking teens and young adults walk into high schools, open fire and murder innocent people.
Moving forward now. Remembering to be positive. Washed the negative right out of my hair with words. It’s the good people like the first kid I met and the postman, people with glowing auras, that I choose to carry with me. Their kind gestures made my day. Rise above things that bother you, peeps. Rise above.
(Bum raps: Back with vengeance? No way. Just trying as I sometimes do in a small way to exact social change. To encourage people to consider social conscience when confronting or encountering others. It feels so good to have returned to my WordPress, Facebook and Tumblr family and friends. The virus was downloaded along with a free trial of McAfee anti-virus protection and associated software programs crashed my computer for three-plus days in the hours after my Gamecocks beat the Tigers for the fifth year in a row. Five times. Five times. Five times. Life most definitely has its ups and downs. Viruses. Yuck. I’ve already found Avast to be a vast improvement over other anti-virus programs. Another guy named Joe recommended it to me when we were straphangin’ on a local bus service. I always write on scraps of paper, but the last three days I’ve been documenting every thought on anything from napkins to receipts. Anyway. I’m back in my comfort zone among good people. Thanks for reading my stuff.)