White Trash food, canning, pies, beets, turkey, bread pudding, asparagus, potlucks, sweet potatoes, rhubarb, spinach, Easter bunnies, jellybeans, ice cream, apricots, and dog food served as paté
3:58 p.m., Feb. 19
Coffee at the Nautical Bean in Oceanside Harbor is to a sunny morning what Halle Barry is to a night of loving. OK, I'm presuming because I haven't had the privilege to truly compare, but a guy can dream... so back to that coffee. A single cup of the Bean's recently trademarked 'Nightwatch' brand will not only jump start your morning; it'll maintain your heart rate in double digits well into the evening hours. Did I mention I like this stuff?
At first glance Oceanside harbor reminds one of a painting of an idyllic New England fishing village. Its lighthouse is surrounded by a cluster of restaurants and gift shops, all tucked into quaint cottage style buildings. Sea birds perch on nearby waterfront railings while others circle overhead. During the rest of the year it's a place of tranquility, but this time of year it comes alive. Located halfway between the free parking area and the wide expanse of sandy beach, the Bean's covered patio provides an excellent vantage point for people watching—reason number two for coming here. Did I mention the coffee?
I get my mug filled in the galley, and take my place at a table already occupied by Karl, one of the regulars, who is talking to a stranger. The stranger is a tall man with a long face and a short nose, with a gap between his upper lip and nose that could accommodate two mustaches. He has only one; modest guy. He looks tired.
"You live around here?" The stranger asks Karl.
"I retired a few years back and now live aboard my boat."
"I take it you like it here."
“What’s not to like? The nights are quiet, and in the morning breakfast and fresh coffee is just a few steps away here. By the time I start my second cup there’s a steady stream of pretty girls walking by on their way to the beach, and I get to scout all of them. Are you visiting?”
"Yeah: from Minnesota. The kids love it, but these damned vacations are killing me. Yesterday it was Disney-freakin'-land, today it's the beach, tomorrow Lego-freakin'-land."
He doesn't say freakin', but you get the point.
"Where are the kids now?" Karl says.
"Left them with the wife on the sand: I had to have a few minutes of me-time."
"Well, you're just in time," Karl says, glancing at his watch."It's almost time for Bricky."
Karl winks at me. I know what he means, but the Grumpy Dad runs up an eyebrow.
"Yeah. Young lady lives in the big condo," Karl says, pointing at the 16 story monstrosity across the harbor. "She walks her poodle by precisely at 10:15 every morning before she heads off to work. You can rely on it like a Swiss watch."
"So... why Bricky?"
"She's built like a brick sh..."
“Got it,” Grumpy Dad says with a knowing nod. “Solid, huh?”
“Solid.” Nielsen nods.
I've seen her before, so I nod too.
Three guys in agreement. Male bonding. And there are those who say men can’t form meaningful relationships.
Tourists stream by heading to the beach. It's sunny, but cool: I wouldn't call it a beachy day. But unlike those of us privileged with year-round opportunities, the tourists have but a week or two to do it, so goosebumps or not, there they go.
A middle age couple walks by, carrying blankets and a beach umbrella. The woman's mascara seems to be an ill-advised attempt to approximate Britney Spears' eyes, but it just makes her look like a raccoon. The man has a lot of dark chest hair—on his back, and reminds me of an orangutan.
A younger couple and a pair of pre-school age boys walk by apparently ready to spend the whole day on the beach. The boys are armed with enough plastic shovels to start a profitable grave digging enterprise. Maybe they could beautify the beach by burying the orangutan guy.
Karl gives me a nudge, alerting me of Bricky's approach. I glance at my watch— 10:15. Aaah, the Swiss precision.!
Bricky walks by with her white poodle on a long leash. She's wearing tight and bright lycra pants. In spite of sporting enviably generous breasts, her posture is upright without the slightest hint of a slouch. She strides effortlessly, but with a tantalizing hip rotation that exudes sexual possibilities. The poodle insists on taking a lengthy sniff at the leg of a concrete bench. Bricky tugs at the leash, but the poodle resists. She bends over to pet him. The poodle seems to appreciate it. So do I.
“Every morning, huh?” Grumpy Dad says.
“Yeah,” Nielsen says with a sigh. “Makes it worth getting up for.”
“I like your retirement plan.”
A chirpy group of bikini-clad girls walks by carrying blankets, coolers and a beach ball. Nielsen watches them pass with an amused and aloof smile.
“You in a hurry to get back to the kids?” he says to Grumpy Dad.
“Then why don’t we relax a while and watch the bikinis parade by?”
Grumpy Dad chews his lower lip for a moment, then smiles.
"Sure," he says, "We'd be fools not to."
And how was your morning?