Friday, August 12, 2011

PBA, Book IV

As I jump through my PBA timeline I would certainly be remiss in forgetting to tell you about the time I fell in the Lake. Yup. Embarrassing as anything. I was wandering around First Baptist Church's Chapel by the Lake, an ampitheater built in the 1960s, across from the College. I was killing time before I took the mandatory CLAST exam, a standardized test undergrads had to take before they could continue on to their junior year. It was early on a Saturday morning in March of 1989, and a bit chilly for Florida.

I stared down at the Intracoastal Waterway and over at Palm Beach as I had many times before. I started to hear the scrapes of skateboards on concrete. Kids yelling. The sloping cement aisles of the Chapel were always popular with boarders. I listened for a bit, eventually hearing something that caused me to do a slight turn, and enough to send me backward into the water. I was fortunate to just miss some jagged rocks. The water was shallow but pretty cold. I stood in waist deep water, dumbfounded. Those kids never knew I fell in, but a guy walking his dog along Flagler Drive did. I looked up at him and his pooch with what I imagined was relief and embarrassment. While I could have climbed my way out unassisted, he offered his arm and soon I was on the grass, dog tongue in my face. I was mortified for a few seconds, but it quickly turned to anxiety. I was due to take a test in 1/2hour!

Luckily, I was wearing all black and you could not tell I was wet. I figured no one would know. I slinked into the bathroom in Borbe Hall and exhausted the paper towel supply. It wasn't enough to prevent a drip trail from my corduroys. I stood in line to the classroom, chatting with some classmmates as if nothing unusual had happened. Only one teacher who saw a puddle I left down the hall threatened my secret. I sat down in a cold room (inexplicably, the air conditioning was turned way down on a cool day) to take the exam, hoping I would not catch pneumonia. Everything turned out OK.

That same semester, I wrote about this experience for my Creative Writing course. I wrote the entire thing in 30 minutes flat. I received an A+ for a piece that required very little of my soul, unlike the other assignments for which I really put in some effort. It was so well received by the prof and my classmmates that it ended up in the yearly Lit mag! I couldn't believe it. I mentioned this in my review for the film TALK RADIO here last year.

Later that year I began dating a girl with whom I also worked at Eckerd Drug. It would be my first lesson in "don't mix business with pleasure" or the cliche of your choice. She was a pistol, that girl. She did most of the driving, as I was still a few months away from getting my own ride. It was a stormy relationship that spilled over into our work. Initially, we flirted in the aisles as Little River Band and America droned overhead. We would also sneak away into the storage room...Later, when the inevitable fights began, we would fire sarcasm at each other across the store, sometimes right in front of customers. It got bad enough to necessitate the manager scheduling us on different days.

Why did we fight? I can say it was mainly because I was a bit jealous of her friendliness with other guys. I was 20 but very immature. I had this idea that she and I would last. I didn't like her liberal affection with everyone. Maybe there was a bit of Jake LaMotta in my Italian blood. Got me. The corker came when one of my other co-workers tipped me off that my so-called gf and some other dude (a bagboy from the Winn-Dixie next door, no less) were getting cozy in the parking lot. I came over and while I did not catch them engaging in any illicit activity, it was clear that my beloved liked to play the field. A few weeks later, I broke it off. She (coincidentally?) quit a week or so after that.

What does this have to do with PBA? Stay tuned........

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