While we were waiting to be shipped out a funny thing happened. We were sitting around shooting the breeze and some one started talking about those beautiful California beaches with even more beautiful California girls and the surfers. Someone else said,”Hey, let’s go swimming! ”
We all agreed and found our swimsuits that we put on under slacks and shirts. About eight or nine of us got into an old car that belonged to a friend that lived in San Francisco. Away we went, full of high sprits and joshing one another about the beautiful beaches and balmy water we were going to enjoy. We got down to as close as we could get to the water, which was just south of the Golden Gate Bridge in Golden Gate Park. As we were taking our clothes off someone shouted, “The last one in buys the first round tonight!”
We all began to rip off shoes, socks, and everything else. Three of us finished first and took off running as fast as we could towards the water. There was a long slope down a grassy hill to the water. Imagine nine testosterone-overloaded 20 year olds hollering and yelling and plunging down the hill toward the water. I remember thinking that the beach was not what I expected; it was a sorry excuse for a beach. I would say it was about ten feet wide and full of driftwood.
Well, the three of us who reached the water first were going flat out as fast as we could and after about three leaps we fell down. Under the water we went and we came up sputtering and cussing. That water was so cold! It was the coldest water I had ever been in. It was colder than the water we felt in Colorado in streams from melted snow. My poor body went rigid and then limp. It was as if I had been hit by a Taser. The three of us were waist deep amongst the icebergs and we started desperately trying to get back to the beach and dry land.
I am sure that we were a comic scene but what was funnier was seeing us fight our way through the second wave who had just hit the water. They were trying to get stopped and turned around and we three were battling our way through them. It was every man for himself. Lots of yelling, pushing and cussing. We finally got out on dry land and were standing there like a bunch of penguins, just looking at one another. We were so cold we were shaking like a grove of aspen trees. My old grandpa who had a lot of earthy sayings would had said “we were shaking like an old dog passing a peach seed.” Our bodies had taken on a definite pale blue tint.
I looked over to the left for the first time and there were a bunch of big rocks covered with seals. That would have been my first clue if I had seen them before but unfortunately I did not. One of the guys whispered through clinched teeth, “Them seals are up on them rocks trying to stay out of that water so they won’t freeze to death.”
Well, these strapping 20 year olds who were bounding down the hill moments before were trudging back up the same hill with heads down like a bunch of whimpering pups. When anyone starts telling you about beautiful California beaches and lovely young ladies with surfers floating in on balmy water, do not believe them. It is all a lie!!
Photo of Golden Gate Bridge found here.
Photo of seals found here.