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Pacific Grove’s Good Old Daze

Have you ever allowed yourself to become so totally immersed in a day that it stretched on forever? It seems we lose the hang of it after childhood, which is a shame. Well, yesterday I attended Pacific Grove’s Good Old Days celebration and told myself it was to be a “vacation from self-flagellation.” And it was.

I parked several blocks up from Lighthouse Avenue, where the festivities took place. The sun was playing peek-a-boo between mounds of cumulous clouds as I trotted down 16th Street. I was agog as I passed all the board and batten cottages with climbing roses entwining their picket fences, vintage lilac bushes, and cats napping in small-paned windows.

I first encountered hordes of celebrants who were cheering on local fire departments as they tried, and failed, to knock over an orange cone using their powerful hoses. Next, I joined a crowd rocking out to a popular jazz band and surprised myself greatly as I jived, swayed and clapped to the music.

My major mission for the yearly event is to get the biggest, juiciest corn dog and glass of homemade lemonade possible. After slathering it with ketchup and mustard (the dog) and chowing down, I was in 7th heaven.

I toured the dozens of vendor booths and was deeply proud of myself for buying a mere keychain (which was $5 but I bartered it down to $4).

Hours later, on my way out, I encountered a man who might have walked right out of Steinbeck’s pages. He was painted as a clown and played a little accordion. And, I swear, he looked like he’d just driven from Oklahoma to Salinas looking for field work during the Dust Bowl. Or, maybe he was one of Mac’s boys from Cannery Row. Or, maybe he was Mr. Bojangles.
All in all, I was amazed at the permission I’d given myself to stay on and flow with the day. It so lifted my cares and woes that I must make a note of it . . .

Looks like Raindrops!

It’s pouring today, but I need a bike ride like an infant needs a breast. So I don my rain gear – a waist-length red plastic jacket and knee-length spandex pants. I tell myself its warm enough outside to let my legs get wet. Wrong-o.

At any rate, cycling around Pacific Grove in a springtime rain makes me feel like a kid again. I purposely plough through big puddles unfettered by the mud it’s probably kicking onto my back side. As rain streams down my red helmet and soaks my pants, I’m singing every rain song I can think of and it rockets me back to high school when I was always “in love” with some hapless boy.

“He’ll be kind of shy. And real good lookin’ too . . . woo-woo . . .”

I recall that “The Agony and the Ecstasy” was one of my favorite books and now I make a connection: One boy after another fell hopelessly for me, worshipped me and showered me with gifts before we dumped each other. Oh! the ecstasy of adoration. Oh! the agony of abandonment.

This was long before “serial monogamist” “obsessive/compulsive disorder” or “love addiction” was on everyone’s lips.

As I pedal, I ponder further. It occurs to me that when the endorphins of lust and love are coursing through a man’s veins, he can be as romantic as a woman, or even more so. Flowers, moonlight walks, poetry, little notes tucked into his girlfriend’s coat pocket or briefcase, nothing’s too good for his girl . . .

Then, it all goes to hell in a handbag. Why? Because the chemicals ebb, as they’re supposed to (scientists say they’re only necessary for a few months to ensure the survival of the species). And men go back to their true character: insensitive brutes. And women stay romantic, sensitive and communicative.

Now, there are also two kinds of women: those who accept a man’s true nature and appreciate what a man can give them (which is something I can’t report because I’ve never stayed around long enough to find out what that is); and those of us who don’t accept it and continue to brow beat and badger our mates to return to their former giddy state.

Any man with a modicum of self respect will dump such a woman, and if he doesn’t, we lose respect for him and dump him. This is why the latter of us end up in many, many relationships.

Well, what an epiphany I’m having as I realize I am soaked to the bone and shivering like a wet dog. But, oh, the ride is worth it when I happen upon a lovely cottage garden planted with every stripe and color of tulip. Beside it an apple tree rains down its virginal blossoms onto a Jaguar, decking it out in honeymoon bunting.

I head home to a hot bath and some more pondering on the demise of my two failed marriages. However, this is all without a whit of guilt, because I still haven’t figured out what I’d want with a man who has passed beyond the infatuation stage. . .



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