Thursday, September 8, 2011

Picnic Attack

Pawley's Island, South Carolina

I left Charleston, and after dealing with South Carolina's unstimulating countryside, landed in Pawley's Island.  It's a pretty area with a lot of expensive houses.  After countless pier after pier marked private, all reaching into the grassy waterway opposite the beach, I found one belonging to a house for lease and without a private posting.  Walking across was a self conscious and nerve wracking experience.  Alone on a pier in funny clothes, stepping over skinny, broken planks to reach the end and be the only person in the waterway.  I worried some overzealous neighbor would come out and lecture me on property rights, then realized there were no neighbors.  Aside from a few scattered houses, the majority of the homes were vacant, serving as an occasional summer home for some assholes who lived elsewhere and probably use words like "synergize" and "coupĂ©."

This guy is nowhere near the coast.
I went to the beach and found it unfamiliar to most of the beaches I had seen in Florida.  Houses on stilts held walkways to the beach and long jetties of rock kept the surf from eroding them into the sea.  I got a call back from Sally Waipend, wife of Lieft Child, who I had talked to about staying with.  She passed the phone to her husband, a man with staggered speech and terse tone.  He asked where I was and attempted to calculate in brief pauses the time it would take for me to ride to their house, only to give the phone back to his wife.  She politely asked what I wanted to do, whether I was tired, and if I wanted to stay at the beach for some time.  Again the phone was traded and Lieft gave me a direction to head with the suggestion to "get peddalin', man."  I met Lieft at the gas station he had designated and found an old man with white hair and a station wagon.  I got into the car and wondered how many times I would have to call him "sir" before the night's end.  On the phone I was reminded of the alpha male posturing of any father whose daughter I was trying to hang out with.  Upon meeting him, he wasn't necessarily warmer, but lacked the machismo grunting bullshit he used on the phone.  He repeatedly explained on the ride with short, cut-off sentences that trailed off midway through that his wife was a retired teacher and he used to travel to Hawaii to surf when he was my age.  He gave an audible scoff when I told him I was twenty-one.

We reached their house in the middle of a country club in Litchfield and I exchanged the typical small-talk introduction I'm constantly giving on this trip.  Sally seemed committed to being open and welcoming despite her husband's obvious view on the situation.  A young stranger was staying with two older adults in their house and without charge.  I tried to alleviate the situation by being ultra-polite.  I was raised to be exceedingly polite around adults, but only while with adults I was familiar with.  Being alone with the middle aged is not an etiquette with which I'm familiar.  Lieft gets frustrated with my constant deflection of "whatever is most convenient," and in jilted sentences, repeatedly says "we're just nice people","we're cool."  Lieft is a chef at a local restaurant and cooks filet mignon and grilled vegetables.  My steak is overly rare and Joe takes it back to recook it.  As he moves outside I noticed he didn't seem to have any balance.  He has perpetually bleeding cuts on his legs from stumbling over.  Between this and his staggered cadence, I wonder if he's had some sort of stroke without any facial paralysis.  We pray before dinner, eat, and retire to our respective rooms. Sally tells me to make myself at home.  I masturbate and trim my pubes in the bathroom.


Death doesn't make aging scary, aging does.  Death is inevitable for anyone at anytime and more of a second thought when ruminating on growing old.  The fear towards aging is the fear of restriction and the loss of ability.  Lieft wasn't upset I was staying in his house.  He was upset that I stood as a testament to how he was and the ability he once possessed.  He can't surf again, much less walk a straight line.  His posturing might have been funny were it not so sad.

Aging is mental confinement.  The being that has existed in your form the whole of your life persists, but the body continues to whither and crumple.  Paleolithic man came to his natural end at the ripe age of thirty.  It's not wrong that we've stretched our longevity to more than double that, but it comes with the consequence of frailty.  Death is scary from the biological, evolutionarily ordained sense, but conceptually the real horror is aging.  You're trapped in a body that has declined in utility since your twenties and a mind that erodes away those fantastic Seinfeld quotes you once knew.  It's difficult to deal with the recession of one's capabilities, especially if it means I'll never keg-stand again.

South Carolina Kill Count
Armadillo: 7
Cat: 3
Deer: 1
Dog: 1
Opposum: 5
Raccoon: 8
Small Bird: 9
Snake: 4
Squirrel: 4
Turtle: 5
Unknown: 12
Vulture: 2

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