by Michael Petrie
Have you ever had one of those PERFECT weekends, even when nothing particularly remarkable occurred? One of those weekends where all the forces of the universe just come together nicely and everything works out just right?
I just got back from spending three gorgeous days at Santa Catalina Island with my life-long, good buddy, Bob. We've hung out together since we were kids, but in the hubbub of our everyday adult lives the times we spend together mano-a-mano are too few and far between. So, we planned a little get-away - just us guys, no wives. We took my boat - Island Time - and motored out of the harbor toward the open sea, under a clear cobalt blue sky. The weather was absolutely PERFECT.
For me, Catalina Island is like having a bit of Tahiti right close to home - a little slice of paradise only 30 miles off the Southern California Coast. Arriving at the Island, the ocean shimmers an incredibly, brilliant blue. The air smells so pure and clean; a mixture of trees and salt air. Eventually Bob and I find ourselves on bar stools at an outdoor beach bar, watching bikini clad young girls frolic on the sand, as we proceed to knock back a few cold ones - just like we used to back in our college days. Watching these svelte beauties parading along the sand, we begin discussing the various girls we have known in our lives - concluding, with alcohol-enhanced sagaciousness, that this new generation of females has nothing on the girls we remember from our youth.
We are both enjoying a pretty good buzz as we stroll on back to the boat - still conversing about women, life, politics, women, boats, sports, and women . . . the topics have not changed much since college - and, in many ways, neither have we; the wisdom that age supposedly brings seems illusory, as we find ourselves regressing from the adults we are during the work-week to being boys once more during this PERFECT weekend.
Back on board Island Time, we soak up some sun and swim in the ocean - doing canon balls off the side of the boat like kids. We snack on a huge plate of nachos with homemade mango salsa prepared in advance by my lovely wife - a terrific woman!
Jimmy Buffet is on the stereo singing about islands and oceans - PERFECT musical score for this fine afternoon. A parrot, perched on the boat anchored next to ours, is squawking and making whistle noises as several young women motor by in an inflatable dinghy. Besides whistling and squawking, the bird draws from its repertoire of learned phrases, shouting loudly - as if right on cue: "Ooo, Baby!" and "Shiver me timbers!" If this isn't the epitome of Margaritaville, I don't know what is. Gentle waves are lapping onto the beach a few yards away, the sun is shining brightly and the air temperature is around 84 degrees. PERFECT!
The bell tower chiming from the steeple on the hill signifies that it is now 6:45 p.m., leaving just enough time for another swim in the Pacific before heading ashore for dinner and then for a movie at the famous old Landmark Casino; an elegant circular structure, built back in the late 1920's by William Wrigley - the chewing gum magnate who once owned this island.
Like stepping back through time, Bob and I enter the old theater and we are transported back to the golden age of California - back to a time before our time. One could almost feel the presence of Zane Grey or Errol Flynn (former frequent visitors to the Casino, back in its heyday) as we walk the ornate Art Deco hallway and take our seats before the enormous white screen. The featured movie on this particular evening - The Perfect Storm: a true story about the sea and the PERFECT movie for us - two old salts who just arrived by boat, on a PERFECT evening at a PERFECT island paradise.
Saturday night, a band is playing at the Harbor Reef Bar - "The Chantays." They used to be one of the premier surf bands in California, with a major hit record in 1963, called Pipeline. What a treat sitting around the bar drinking "Buffalo Milk" (the trademark imbibe of Catalina - these drinks have a way of creeping up on you ... Wow!) and listening to this old time surf music from our childhood.
Next day, we are lunching at the same bar with members of the band, swapping surfing stories. Fun guys. I tell them, "Pipeline was one of the very first records I ever bought and the first song I learned to play on the guitar. I don't wanna make you feel old or anything, but I was only in elementary school when I bought your record." They just laugh, saying they hear that kind of stuff all the time. Meeting "The Chantays" and hearing them play (for free, yet!) - what a nice highlight to a PERFECT weekend in paradise.
Trolling for fish on our way back home, we manage to hook a good-sized tuna and catch a glimpse of an amazingly beautiful Blue Whale (the largest mammal on earth and relatively rare in California waters) break the surface near our boat. "Bitchin'!" we shout in unison, the same primordial yell we've used since our teens.
Back in the marina, on the mainland, Bob and I high five it and bid each other adios, as we head back to our respective homes . . . back to our loving families' back to our adult lives (Bob's a business executive and I'm a lawyer) after a PERFECT weekend excursion, by two PERFECTLY good old friends!
Life adventurer, attorney and writer Michael Petrie is a regular contributor to BoomerCafe. He lives in California.