This is the 20th segment of Reggae on the River, 2016, which is hard to believe when you consider that after the third one, the series was cancelled, due to lack of any semblance of quality. Unfortunately, the author did not get the memo.
Bless me Father for I have prevaricated, I have equivocated and I have misrepresented the truth.
I have told a whopper.
In point of fact, I wrote earlier in this fantasized odyssey that I did not indulge in alcohol while reggaeing at French’s Camp. Like much of the delusional material to be found within this lengthy treatise, this is a blatant falsehood, because I did indeed imbibe some spirits.
Following the sophisticated thinking of Donald Trump (oxymoron Hall of Fame nominee), I simply figured if I said something often enough, even if it were a lie, my saying it would make it true.
I had explained it this way to Casey later on Saturday (much later), “He [Mid-Sized David] knocked me down, pinned my shoulders to the ground and forced me to drink some Jamie in my coffee. The combination was disgusting.”
Not sure at first whether I was pulling his leg about David, and trying to collect his fragmented thoughts, no easy task considering there was consumption of ale and reveling done at South Beach Friday night, Casey just gawked at me.
|David, Conner andAlex, aka Minnix|
“Seriously, though, I was drinking (What else at French’s Camp?) French coffee from the reggae gas station and had a nice coffee-buzz going on, and David hit me up with the suggestion that I add a little Jameson to my coffee.”
Relief poured over Casey. “You had me going for a minute there, thinking David…”
I mean, we WERE camping, right? I thought back to going fresh-water fishing with my friend Ken, back in the seventies when I lived in San Jose. We would go out to Lexington Reservoir on Highway 17 leading over to Santa Cruz, and fish for trout early in the morning. We’d bring a bunch of food for later on, but while it was still dark, we’d drink gin, smoke some Columbian and just fish.
Booze has never been my thing, especially in any quantity, but just the right amount in one’s coffee, together with some Sour OG/Sour Band, and the tone is set for conversation and conviviality. Anything with Sour in it is a Sativa derivative, and anything Sativa in nature, gets the right side of my brain fully engaged.
I was exaggerating to Casey for effect, probably because it was unusual for me to mix my poisons, but this was no typical setting. A year ago I had spent much time in the wee hours with David, as I experienced my first ROTR. Both Casey and David were instrumental in their support of me.
When I had awakened after my usual four hours of sleep, Saturday morning, only Mid-Sized-David and Bull were still up, and Bull was on his way out, leaving just the big guy and me. David and I had worked construction on a crew together, we had worked construction just the two of us, and we had watched many a televised sporting event, while barbecuing.
I have many acquaintances but few friends; David is one of my friends.
Because there were so many campers around us, and because many had been carousing all night, there were frequent raucous outbursts that were so common I stopped noticing them. On the other hand, they hadn’t penetrated my slumber and I wasn’t trying to get back to sleep.
The premier topic of conversation later on that Saturday, was the visit to our campsite by two young women after the revelers had returned from South Beach, but before I had gotten up. By all accounts they had been rather, shall we say, animated.
The phase, “Conner is a man of service,” was the theme, and it was one that permeated the venue. Had the young ladies in question been unknown commodities, the words might have had an entirely different connotation; as it were, one was Homegirl, and that makes all the difference in the world.
Homegirl or not, she was boisterous.
Casey had surfaced at one point, long enough to get Joey B’s attention and give him the throat-slashing signal, before rolling over and going back to sleep, thinking to himself that he was getting soft in his old age.
“Even last year I would have simply screamed out, ‘Shut the f**k up you silly bit#%*s.’ Guess I’m getting politically correct in my old age,” was his explanation.
“It’s all of those Supervisor meetings in Ukiah,” I commented, wondering at the same time how he was ever able to do it. I could not-not now, not back in the day, not in the future.
I sipped my morning libation, pleasantly surprised at how innocuous it all seemed. I enjoy the flavor of Jameson immensely, and the coffee was first-rate, so it computed, as my father used to say. The only thing missing was the whipped cream, but we were camping, after all.
Conner refers to them as “good old reggae stories,” but people stories are what stand out most vividly in my somewhat-addled brain. The music is a shared experience with thousands of others, but these one-on-one conversations, whether in the wee hours or in the midst of a crowd, loom over the others as moments that mattered.
Thursday night set the tone, well-established last year at my first ROTR. This year it was former student Nathan S coming up to me during Jah Sun’s performance and saying, “Hey.”
I of course looked blankly at him until he identified himself, and then we greeted one another appropriately, exchanging hugs. During our ensuing conversation what he said knocked my socks off. Considering I don’t wear socks, that is some feat, pun intended.
“You have no idea how much love and respect this community has for you. You raised a lot of us, and we love you for it.”
My gouda-cheese brain recorded every word of our lengthy conversation, complete with names, facts and dates, but this one sentence sums it up.
They were powerful words for this former teacher to hear, especially one who gave up on education because of the requirement that teachers teach to the standardized tests.
I responded, “All I did was give you guys basic respect, and I got it back tenfold. Thank you for your kind words.”
There were many former students at Reggae that I did not see, or at least did not recognize. That doesn’t mean I did not feel their presence. At an impressionable period of their lives, I spent probably ten times as much quality time with them, as their parents did. It’s the nature of the beast.
Students had no choice into whose class they were placed, for the most part, so it was all a crap-shoot. But if you had me for reading and language, then you probably also had me for social studies. And if you ever took Spanish at the middle school or debate, or bridge, then that was me also.
I did a full-length Shakespeare production three out of every four years, Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” being the fourth year’s offering. Some of you may remember those. We simply shared the same space, amicably, for large chunks of time.
I made my expectations clear so that if there was a poor choice made, no one took it personally. Why blame me? I was just the messenger.
My primary goal in the classroom was to keep whatever spark of curiosity alive, that was still present in my students when they hit the middle school. Granted, using your spelling/vocabulary words in a story each week, was not the most spark-arresting assignment possible, but how many of you used it as a forum for expressing yourselves, even as sixth graders?
Now as I get along, the pupils have become the mentors, and I have become the student. If I tend to prattle on about all of this, then chalk it up to old age and be patient with me.
I have zero compelling items left I feel I need to accomplish, having done that which I set out to do, so it’s all gravy now.
Or should I say, “It’s all whipped cream now?”
Tomorrow: Good Buddha, there’s more?