May 3, 2019 – Penrose Point State Park, Gig Harbor, WA
I’m happy to be back at Penrose Point. What it lacks in convenience is more than made up for by Its soaring, old-growth trees and abundance of wildlife. Aside from the campground host, we’re the only campers occupying this 20-site area, most likely because showers aren’t operational until the middle of May. There are lots of beautiful trails to hike here, and an abundance of oysters and clams to harvest. We’ve been gathering sand dollars and shells, cleaning and finishing them to help finance our trip to Arizona.
The day before we left Dash Point, I pulled into the campground and was startled by a flashing light in my rearview mirror. Ranger Danger exited his vehicle and strode over to the driver’s side of the car, leaving the light brazenly flashing so all the campers would be aware of my dastardly act. Since Brent had already informed me of the nature of my mistake (he loves to do that), I was prepared for what followed. “You might be wondering why I pulled you over. You didn’t stop at the stop sign.” Well, I’ve never stopped at that stop sign, but I guess I should have done so when I saw the ranger parked on the side of the entrance road. Since the sign is directly in front of another one reading “Stop at the booth to register,” I figured I didn’t need to stop when there was no ranger there (in the booth, I mean). I put on my meek face and apologized, hoping to pacify him, and it seemed to work. “I could give you a ticket, but I’ll let you off with a warning this time.”
Later that night as we sat around the fire, I concocted a different scenario for the stop sign incident. “Instead of apologizing, I should have put my foot on the accelerator and taken off. Can you imagine us driving in circles around the campground pursued by Ranger Danger with his flashing lights? It would’ve been the talk of the campground for years to come.” Even before the stop sign incident, we were on the rangers’ radar, since Brent likes to do naughty things like plug his power saw into the adjacent overflow outlet so he can work on the truck. It’s not that we don’t want to pay for a power hookup, it’s that none are available this time of year. Dash Point is a popular site and the campground is only partially open right now. When the ranger chastised Brent for stealing the power, he offered to pay the extra money, but his offer was not-so-politely refused.
The other day I had a phone conversation with my sister. “Brent is a little quirky,” I told her in what could be the understatement of the century. “You’ve always been attracted to those kind of guys,” she replied, and she was right. First there was Peter, my high school sweetheart, a tall and lanky nerdy sort of guy who introduced me to acid and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Our favorite place to get stoned was Stotesbury mansion, a huge abandoned building with spooky underground passageways and hills to roll down.
Then came David, a lover of the blues and Gallo Vin Rose. Recently out of the navy, he was an outgoing, feisty kind of guy whose favorite expressions were “Does a bear shit in the woods” and “colder than a witch’s tit.”
That lasted two years before I was stolen away by Jerry, a tall, dark Italian, and an amazing writer and poet who seduced me with his music. His room was plastered with egg cartons to muffle the sound as he composed his songs, playing all the instruments himself and overlaying them using his reel-to-reel tape deck. He called me Boo and we rode together on his Honda 350 to Miami to attend the Republican National Convention. Instead of protesting, we played on the beach, taking advantage of the free campgrounds that had been set up for the occasion. By the time I’d split up with Jerry he’d already changed his name to Blake and moved on to greener pastures.
But the quirkiest of all has to be Chuck, the father of my two older kids. When I met him he was squatting in an abandoned building in Powelton Village, home to the “back to nature” group called Move, and the infamous “mayor” of Powelton, Ira Einhorn who later fled to Europe to avoid arrest after killing his girlfriend and stuffing her body in a trunk. Chuck had a heart of gold, but no work ethic. He loved people and he loved getting stoned. Oh… and did I mention he was a little eccentric? One day, on the way back from the lake, we stopped at McDonald’s for a fish sandwich. When Chuck returned to the car with his bag, he was incensed to discover he’d been short-changed. He opened the paper bag, pulled out his fish sandwich and removed the filet, tossing it aside and replacing it with one of the small fish we’d caught that day. Unaware of its fate, it was innocently swimming around in a bucket of water on the floor of the car. He marched into McDonald’s with his improvised fish sandwich, placing it down on the counter and exclaiming “The least you can do is kill your fish before putting it in the sandwich.”
So, yes, Brent is one in a long line of so-called “quirky” guys. He’s a hard-working, creative, resourceful, stubborn, bossy, cocky, tough but sensitive, spontaneous, funny, absent-minded kind of guy who loves to party and hates to be categorized. He’s closer in age to my kids than he is to me, and I’m constantly reining him in. “Can you please turn down the music. It’s after 10 and we’re not supposed to be making noise.” He’s on medication and shouldn’t be drinking, but he does. One night he drank three of his “Hurricanes”, high-alcohol shitty-tasting beer, and he turned belligerent. After that I restricted his intake—no hard liquor—though sometimes it’s out of my control. The night before we left Dash Point, cowboy Johnny pulled into the campsite next to us. He strode over with a bottle of cinnamon flavored whiskey, asking us to put it on ice, so I wasn’t at all surprised when he returned an hour later and poured us all some shots. Brent had found his “bro” mate—a cowboy who partied as hard as he does, who could build a palette fire with flames and sparks that shot higher than ours. God help us all!