Leading a life of crime, I’ve been thrown out of many establishments. I’ve been thrown out of bars, restaurants, classrooms, and campgrounds. Never, up until this last week, had I been asked to remove myself from a beach………two days in a row, by women twice my age. I’m forty two. I guess I need to grow up.
Taking a leisurely stroll with our dog, Etta, on a surprisingly cloudy day in Seattle, Washington, we decided to take the trail leading to the rocky beach of Puget Sound. The trail was quiet and the beach was nearly empty of Seatown humanity, save for, from a distance of about a half mile, three white beacons glaring in our direction. Etta and I thought nothing of it. Since there were no other dogs or people nearby, I released Etta (a bernese mountain dog) from her leash and enjoyed watching her chase the tennis ball and sticks I threw to her as though she was my black and white receiver. Since we have no human children, watching her run, jump, wag, and smile on the beach is about as close as I can come to being a happy father. When I was a child, I remember countless times begging for brothers, sisters, mother or father to throw me a baseball, football, shoe, a rock, or ANYTHING in my general direction so I could possibly catch it like a Major League center fielder or an all-pro NFL wide receiver. I also remember them smiling watching my tail wag in the process. Just like this day with Etta, harmless family fun.
Continuing our fun, we moved along the beach heading south towards the white beacons which seemed to be moving back and forth like wounded, frustrated chickens. Finally, I surmised that these beacons were humans. Out of respect for the general public, when people are around, I commonly place the leash back on Etta’s collar just so they can feel at ease around our dog. (Etta is very large, but is as sweet as a Hermiston Watermelon.) Proceeding along the beach, we were heading back to the trail leading us to the wooded area of the park when the beacons attacked. Waving their arms wildly with their triceps flopping back and forth with the breeze, they were trying with all their might to speed walk in our direction before we made it to the trail. I smiled and knew what was coming. These three old ladies, or Q-Tips, as I and others affectionately refer to them because of their glowing white hair, were dead set on kicking us off of one of God’s glorious beaches. Now, to their benefit, there are signs reminding us common canine owners or “criminals” that dogs are not allowed on the beach, but I thought this day could be an exception for bending the law. (On weekends, there are usually more dogs than people on this particular beach.) Nervously, Etta sat down on my feet where she seems to feel the safest. As I pet her head and told her not to worry, I allowed the ladies ample time, about three minutes or so, (thirty feet away) to finally arrive and provide the proper lecture, thus probably making their day while fighting for justice the AARP way. With a smile on my face, I said, “Good morning, ladies.”
A little rattled by my kind greeting, old bag number one, excuse me, “Queen of the Q-Tips” bellowed, “YOU CANNOT HAVE THAT DOG ON THIS BEACH!” It wasn’t really a bellow, but the tone was clearly sharp as a fowl’s beak. I truly believe she wanted me to argue since she had her younger hens staring me down from behind her in case I made a move to strike. Simply, I said, with a smile and eyes swaying back and forth from her’s to Etta’s, “I know. We’re sorry. We were just trying to find the best spot to get over that rock embankment so we can safely get back on the trail.”
“Good. There’s a spot right over there. You best be on your way.” She turned toward the others, only in their spring seventies, and looked at them as if to say, “See, I told you I could teach this young man, thinking he’s Marlon Brando, a thing or two about breaking the law. ”
Since Etta and I had successfully committed our misdemeanor for the day, we happily returned peacefully to the trail without so much as a fine, or proper explanation as to why they couldn’t apply a little rational human discretion. “Have a nice day ladies.” Yes, I said it, and I meant it too.
The very next day, Etta and I took the same walk under the same circumstances. This time, the Queen sent one of her younger beacons to catch us as soon as we set foot on the rocks and sand. We were probably ten feet into our walk when this beacon of mass destruction of fun arrived. She was a little nervous, but she did her best to keep us from spreading the wrath of Hell unto God’s beach and stealing all of its natural beauty. We didn’t wish to steal anything from the beach. We merely wanted to harmlessly lease it for about fifteen minutes. With a pair of binoculars dangling from her neck as though it was her weapon of choice, she stated sternly, “You know, you really can’t have your dog on this beach. You both need to get back on the trail.” This time I gave her another smile, and said, “I know.” Etta and I just kept walking along the beach as though it would be worth the fine if proper law enforcement stormed the beach and seized the two of us. She provided the necessary old lady gasp and “Well I NEVER!” expression as Etta galloped on the beach while I gave her encouragement by shouting what a good dog she is. We had our fun until we came to a spot where God, the only one I was going to pay attention to on this day, would say, “Ok, Son, you’ve gone far enough. You’ve proved your point. Now, you and Etta get back on the trail, and have a terrific day.”
Etta and I did have a terrific day, and not a soul was harmed. One of these days, perhaps I’ll grow old, broken, surly and grey, and begin enforcing the law instead of breaking it. Then again, maybe I won’t.