ocean and mountains

I am here retelling an old story . I do that . If you’ve heard it , then just turn away for a few minutes . Please don’t give me an exaggerated ” Oh , no ! ”  as someone I know sometimes does. Well , I will admit that’s more often after I tell a joke again . She’s heard them fifteen or twenty times , so I can’t blame her .

I had a brother-in-law who , all through his adult life , had the mental capacity of about an eight year old . He and I were pretty much on the same mental level , therefore , and we got along swell . His memory was what my memory is rapidly becoming . He could remember things that happened years ago , but not what he had for lunch that day , or what happened yesterday . Now , think about that . I could tell him the same dumb joke over and over and he laughed freely and heartily every time . He hadn’t remembered that I told the same one to him last time I’d seen him . ” You’re a card , Dan ! ” he would say to me . With his Boston accent it sounded like I was a cod , but be that what it may . Or he would sometimes say to me , ” Hey , Dan , you belong on the stage .” Then there’d be a dramatic pause . ” The first stage out of town ,” he’d finish . He’d sit there in his wheelchair and laugh and I’d laugh and it was great fun .

You gots to have a sense of humor . That’s what I think . Luckily , most people do .

Ada and I stopped by a fish shack last night for some clam chowder . She got hers served in the bread . That’s the way she likes it . I got just the chowder in the styrofoam cup . They had the three sizes out on the counter with “small” , “large” , and “other” written on them with black marker . They weren’t cheap . I ‘m usually kind of a cheap guy , so I weigh those factors . The “large” looked like it was pretty small but the price for it was not . Don’t ask me about the “other” For that one I guess you take a second mortgage on your house or put your car up for collateral .

Ada said , ” Why don’t you order the ” other ” when I mentioned my astute observation that the ” large ” was pretty small . No , I don’t travel in those circles , so I  ordered the “large” . I tried to joke a bit with the girl who was taking the orders . ” Is that the ” large ” ? I asked . ” It’s not very large , ” I said . I tried to make it a light humorous comment . I tried to make a light humorous face , indicating that I was joking in case she missed other hints . .

I guess she was tired from a long day in the fish kitchen and in no mood for jokes . I suppose she had no snappy comeback , so she just frowned . The frown was verging pretty close to a sneer . I dropped my smile then , too , and ordered the little ” large ” cup of clam chowder . It was pretty good , by the way .

But , as fellow blogger Dan over at No Facilities often says : But , I digress . My story is not about clam chowder or brothers-in-law .

When I was in high school I worked at Redman Van and Storage in Santa Monica , CA . It seems to me the warehouse was over on Santa Monica Blvd and 23rd Street , but it was a long time ago . Santa Monica’s transformed itself into a jet-setter’s paradise , or something like that . Do we still use the designation “jet-setter” ? Probably there’s some hipper term nowadays . But , you get the general idea , I guess. They took the sleepy streets of my youth and made them all one-ways ; they stretched them and narrowed them and made them , somehow , uncomfortable to travel along . I’m always on edge when I ride through Santa Monica these days . But , then , that’s me . Lots of other people like it that way . Edgy is cool , I know .Anyway , I’m pretty sure the old warehouse is long gone , turned into part of the Saint Monica Hospital’s complex ,or      UCLA’s , or into a high end health spa , or something .

But , my tale has little to do with cities jumping head-first sans helmets   into the 21st Century . It does have something to do with Santa Monica , though . You might be happy to find that out .

I was in the yard one day at the warehouse when a car came in and parked . An old fogey opened the driver’s door and stepped out .  His wife got out on the other side chewing the old guy out .LASSEN trip 1. 011

” Oceans and mountains ! ” , she kept repeating . The old man was frowning . Maybe he was on the verge of scowling . Maybe he’d been listening to this ” mountains and ocean” stuff all day long . He looked a little like the fish shack girl ,now that I think of it .

They’d driven Highway One all the way from Seattle to Santa Monica . If you’ve ever done that , you know it’s a beautiful drive , but , yes , it’s mountains and ocean . The old lady was stuck on that motif.

Turns out they had driven all the way from Ohio. Their furniture had come in to the Redman warehouse on a moving van earlier in the day .LASSEN trip 1. 009

After several “mountains and oceans ” minutes , she finally switched to ” We have everything in Ohio . We never should have moved out here . All you’ve got in California is mountains and………. ”  And she got stuck with the ” We have everything in Ohio ” line , while her husband  cringed and kept silent .

After several ” We have everything in Ohio ” pronouncements , I decided to answer her . ” Except for mountains and ocean , ” I said . It shut her up for awhile . She probably reported me to the bosses up in the front office . They probably put another red mark next to my name . They didn’t like instigators on the payroll .

You can’t take life too seriously . Otherwise you’ll keep repeating yourself and wish you were in Ohio or something . Or you’ll turn into Santa Monica before you know what hit you . Hawking clam chowder from an open window in a fish shack will lose its thrill when you , for whatever reason , can’t see the humor in it . You stand the chance of going crazy , or worse ,and not in a good way . Amen.

Ada and I were driving  along Highway 1 today and she was the one who began saying “Oceans and mountains! Oceans and mountains ! ”  Not me . Neither of us had to re-tell the Ohio story to get another  laugh out of it .

Amen .


Filed under humor

19 responses to “ocean and mountains

  1. I really enjoyed this post Dan. I’ve made that trip from Seattle to Santa Monica, and I’ve enjoyed bowls of chowder that were too small, served by window clerks who were too sad. Reblogging this one over at my place.

  2. Reblogged this on No Facilities and commented:
    I’ve made the oceans and mountain journey (and I’ve been to Ohio). If you want to know why those thoughts are connected, read the latest gem from Dan (the other Dan).

  3. Dan sent me. I also am a native from lalaland and miss the Sleepy Santa Monica before it became Mailbu-Beverly Hills at the beach. Agreed about taking life too seriously, though I have to say that I am sure people were not as openly hostile and rude 20 years ago. I recently sent an estimate to a potential client and when I didn’t hear back I sent him a note with the estimate again, saying I was making sure he got it as occasionally emails with attachments get blocked. Now I am the sister of three brothers and yesh, I CAN be a mad whirlwind when I want but not unconsciously, and yet I had a three paragraph answer from him that I was abusive and he was going to ruin us for that!!! A bit more than a scowl, and thinking I must have lost my mind I reread the email I sent (tho I could not imagine) and sure enough, not demanding, friendly, light, etc. In MANY way I am glad we are nearing the end of our lives as business owners because people have gotten crazier. Maybe it is the antidepressants and pain killers seeping into the rivers!

    • Thanks for the comment. How about this one : I used to teach and I’d leave a quarter for the substitute when I would have one for coffee . Coffee at school cost a quarter at that time. I thought it was a symbolic welcome gesture . One guy once wrote me a long two-page denunciation for being so insulting and condescending . ” I can buy my own coffee ” he wrote . I was a little taken aback . I stopped leaving quarters , a little afraid of how people would take the gesture .

  4. Willie

    Jan says when her mother arrived at the beach in Cape Cod she would say; “Smelly old ocean”.
    I won’t comment on the “I can buy my own coffee” guy, but I think you know what I’m thinking…

  5. Cornfields and wheatfields, Cornfields and wheatfields….as far as the eye can see cornfield and wheatfields. Some people carry an extra suitcase loaded with sour attitude wherever they go, and they miss out on all the fun. I love our west coast mountains and oceans!

  6. I am so glad that the one who listens to repeat stories, Ada, “gets you,” along with your brother in law. 🙂 I love when just a few words can brighten up a day. I do think jet-setters may not be used but I certainly “get” that one! 🙂 🙂

  7. My husband and I were just on that lovely highway the day before yesterday. After driving down Highway 1 through Big Sur, I have to say “Oceans and Mountains” are good enough for me!

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