Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Fourth of July 2005

If you give it any thought whatsoever, spending the Independence Day weekend with friends, sleeping late, boating, clamming, swimming, eating great meals and listening to live music, all in a constant alcohol induced haze is completely decadent. Revolutionary patriots supported by ill-clad, ill-housed and ill-nourished, musket wielding frozen troops risked their lives and limbs to free us from British oppression. I'm sure in their arduous struggle they could never imagine that they not only conveyed us freedom from tyranny but also a long, paid, government holiday weekend which would allow us the freedom to indulge our excesses. Well, the preamble to the Declaration, before launching into the laundry list of grievances against the crown, did specifically mention "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," and although it is a political document rather than a legal one conferring specific rights, I choose to overlook such semantics and pursue my happiness. So there.
The specific pursuit of happiness began on Friday, July 1 and continued till mid-afternoon on the 4th. Jane and I were joined by friends, Vin, Brad and Katherine, the same fun crowd as last year. I can't believe it's been a year since they've been here together with us. Vin is a former colleague of mine from my days in the DA's office in Winston-Salem, N.C. who has through a series of twists and turns, landed a cushy corporate job in the Raleigh area. Brad is a teacher and soccer coach and his wife Katherine works at a large bank in Winston-Salem. We met them through Vin-Vin and Katherine are soccer buddies. They got here a little after 6 P.M., the car loaded down with the three of them, lugggage, gifts and Vin's dog Josey who has become great friends with our two mutts. I had given some thought to cooking out Friday but the closer the day got I figured the easiest thing was to just catch a bite at the Dockhouse-music by our friends, Dicky and Jack started at 8:00 and we wanted to get their early enough to say hi to them, throw some cash in the tip jar to "prime the pump," and talk to our other boardwalk buddies. Brad found us a table off to the side that seated about 8 people that we used as a base. One or two could hold out there while the others roamed the boardwalk. We also had our own waitress who supplied us with beer all evening long. I stayed sober enough to play one song with the band, then repaired to the dock railing for the last set. I remembered people drinking a pink rum drink at my birthday party and during one trip to the bar, I asked Trish to make me one. Rum and two or three other unidentified liquors filled the plastic cup to within 1/8 inches of the top, then something non-alcoholic was used to top it off. "What is that called," I inquired. "A Rumfuc$#%r," she replied. I got one for Brad too. Damn it was tasty. Lethal too. Always sober Katherine drove us all home. Brad and I were like a couple of bobblehead dolls in the car.
We had intentions of going clamming at the low tide which was noon Saturday but that plan was scuttled when I bounded out of the rack at 1:15 P. M. The combination of a lingering cold and the deadly Rumfuc$#%r had knocked me for a loop. The weather was iffy also- a thunderstorm was passing just north of the prime clamming area. We waited till about 3:00 and went out for a challenge-clamming on a mid to high tide.
When we jumped out of the boat, we were surprised that the water was already waist deep. Because the shoal I use for locating my usual spot was underwater, I had trouble finding it. I don't know if we were on it or not but we did eventually scrape up about 80 clams between the five of us. We had one rake and ten feet doing the job. The problem was that the water was so deep that you couldn't just reach down and pluck it out of the mud-you had to locate the thing with feet or rake, then dive down headfirst and wrestle it out of it's lair. Usually the clam was located someone else would go under for it. A big clam can put up a lot of resistance and several times Vin would stay under tor 30 seconds, her legs kicking wildly and splashing water while she did battle with the mollusk. After the harvest, it was back to the dock. The girls went to the store to get some fish to grill-the clams were for appetizers. The dinner was great-shrimp and scallops were marinated in a zip lock bag with pineapple chunks and juice, soy sauce, garlic and lemon juice and were cooked on charred cedar planks. Large pieces of yellowfin tuna were grilled and basted with lime butter. Soft-shell crabs were fried in a skillet. It was only after we were finished that we realized that we had forgotten to get the clams out of the boat. The evening was a reprise of Friday night-live music, beer and a couple rounds of Rumf@#%rs for good measure.
Sunday started out lazily again-drinking coffee and reading papers on the porch while we planned our day. We went by boat to Front Street Grill and had lunch on the outdoor deck-not very crowded but we couldn't take our eyes off of the couple in the corner nearest the water. He looked like an unkempt Joe Lieberman and she was ghastly-black and gray stringy hair and makeup that look as if it was put on with a spackling knife. She wore a colorful orange dress, low cut, revealing a pale back with a large brown splotch. She had haphazardly tried to apply some self-tanner to bronze herself up on that area and it ended up looking as if someone had used a mop to swab her back with Kiwi shoe polish. It was smeared-dark brown with swirls of light brown, surrounded by her natural alabaster color. Everytime we would look over at their table we would crack up and it was the frequent topic of conversation at dinner. We gave them imaginary names and lives and as usual took a funny observation and beat it to death all night long. A great dinner, another night on the boardwalk, a late night at home and the next day they were off. Another Fourth to remember-Ya'll come back again soon!

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