Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash: Pick Two (aghrivaine) wrote,
Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash: Pick Two

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Summer Solstice, Grunnion-style

It's summer solstice, and Venice let its hair down tonight. That's a lot of hair to let down, Venice is a very long-haired kind of place. I got up early and as a result of having loafed last night, had a major cleaning project on my hand. I loafed a little longer until the lazy-to-caffeinated ratio tipped over to "get stuff done". Then I was off. I told people to show up any time after three, so had 2pm for my latest possible deadline; with an hour to clean myself and get the bbq ready.

It was a blazing hot day, and I worked like a dog. I ruthlessly got rid of a bunch of stuff that was taking up space but doing no work, and some other stuff that had simply outlived its usefulness. I cleaned this place from stem to stern, and holystoned the decks. It hasn't been this clean since I moved in, but by the time I was done I was covered in filth and muck-sweat. I leaped through the shower, and was done and ready almost exactly at three.

And then no one showed up until 7. But even so, there was this huge party on the block all day. At least half a dozen bands were playing. My next door neighbor had an epic number of beautiful women crammed into his tiny apartment (the same size as mine, but more furnished). Where did he find them? The sun was savage and unrelenting, and until it went down behind the crazy Bauhaus-by-Ikea house across the street, it was way too hot out front to sit in comfort. I sipped some rum and read a couple of books, and was generally very lazy indeed.

By night time, a ton of people had showed up - and this swinging party is happening. Food on the grill was tasty, people were laughing and telling the stories; and a spooky street-drifter called Terence button-holed Krissy in a sort of scary way. He had a knife on his hip, and I was a little nervous, but the situation was defused when I offered him a burger for the road. He was a little too aggressive about asking, "Am I being invited to leave? Am I BEING INVITED TO LEAVE?" But I was holding a gigantic barbeque fork at the time, which perhaps took some of the aggro out of his sails.

Then word went out that the grunion were running. We all ambled down to the beach, a shambolic crew slumping across the wide Venice sands. The moon was bright and away from the street lights our eyes adjusted to see each other like it was day. Down by the pounding surf, we made our way down to the breakwater, where the grunnion swarm on the solstices to get it on. And there we were, thigh deep in the warm water, waves crashing over us, laughing, shrieking, jumping when the amorous fish rubbed up against our ankles. We darted around trying to catch them. I had little success, even though I offered them rum, and really, who wants any part of a fish that won't take a little rum? But several of the party did catch fish, and threw them back in to rejoin the briny bacchanal.

Just the stupid innocence and fun of jumping around in the surf took me back to childhood vacations at the jersey shore - body-surfing with my grandfather who would ride every wave in with his hands together over his head, and then stand up out of the foam, laughing in that whole-hearted way he had when he let himself laugh. Every time he'd stand up, take a comb out of the pocket of his swim trunks, and comb the hair out of his eyes, still laughing. Then he'd catch my eye, smile, and swim back out to find another wave. It was like that - childlike, hilarious, primal.

Trekking back from the breakwater to hose off and keep company a little longer before heading home, I felt much, much closer to my friends than I had before setting out. A good party consists, first and foremost, of excellent guests - and who can manage that without excellent friends?

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