Flying Dutchmen and everything from E-Scows to sunfish round out the contingency (mostly old-school wooden catamarans) that raced on Sundays. If regatta-day was quite windy I’d race a 14-foot Hoby Cat considered gauche and nouveau-riche by the wooden hulled catamaran owners, perhaps because they are lighter and quicker. My girth gave me a decided “keep-the-boat-flat” advantage on heavy days during the two legs that require tacking, and, being a one-men operation, it was a test of both nautical and tactical skills. On light wind days I’d race sunfish but not with much success.
So I got past the yacht club, then the pump house, a Canandaigua landmark and scene of an emergency pissing pit stop four years later, when the choice was pee in my car, or behind the “pumpa housa” as Dad called it. Might have gotten arrested and had a permanent sex-offender for that type of move these days. The walk this day though, back in 1972, was anything but funny. I’m sure I bothered more than one sunbather, gardener, t-shirted lawn mower with off-the-wall questions or unexpected behavior.
On the walk down the gravel driveway that served four “cottages” on Tichner’s Point I slipped and fell due to a small patch of moss, and that woke me up enough to be a little more presentable, emotionally, for the inevitable inquisitive “where is your father?” “How did you get here?” “Your hand is bleeding, let’s get some iodine on that, and a band-aid,” etc. Mom, God bless her, had wigged-out multiple times by then, having suffered severe stress due to my younger brother being hospitalized at Strong Memorial Hospital for his first five years. Oh Adam is a story in himself, and in Mom it caused “hyperactive micromanagement” fueled by regular alcohol ingestion a 50+ cigarettes a day nicotine fix, both habits her shrink called “self medication.” For what, back then, was called manic depression. As if the Nembutal, Secanol, valium, etc. weren’t enough. Turns out Mom’s brother became addicted to a variety of pills (handful at a time) due to bizarre misdiagnoses by one, two five, ten VA hospitals in the southeast. Addiction. It runs in human dynamics as well.
“I’m serious young man, how did you get here?” mom asked in her familiar bark.
“I hitch-hiked, it only took three rides to get here.”
“Then where is your father, and why didn’t he pick you up at John Harrison’s office?”
“I guess I didn’t give him a chance” (an unwritten “Schmidt Men’s code” was to cover for each other) I said in sarcastic battle mode.
“Don’t lay that crap on me. Do you expect me to believe you just up and hitch-hiked all the way here? Do you know how dangerous that would be? Never hitch-hike. I’ve told you we never pick up hitch-hikers, and thumbing a ride is just as bad. You could have been kidnapped, or worse!”
“Well Harrison told me to go where my heart told me to go,” I said to the straight-forwardest of my ability.
“Like hell he did! What is he a quack? No! He has a lot of books out and researched at Duke and UNC at the same time…you know, that’s unheardof.”
“Yeah mom and I know you love his motorcycle, but when he told me to follow my heart, I made a short stop at Martin’s until Mr. Martin came home, and then made it here by hitch-hiking. You should be proud. I forgot Dad (slapped in my face) was going to pick me up. That hurt!”
“It’s not surprising your father hasn’t called by now.”
And on it went. Later that same summer my folks had a blowout fundraiser for Project Hope, the floating hospital. My dad’s band from the 50s in NYC came up for a reunion. Wild line-up of 15 layers including two pianos, basses and trombones which took turns making the lower-register melody lines that, I swear, were magic. Never a guitar, and that says it all. Most of the band had regular gigs in New York still, so many years after the fact. Their hit was called “I’m Feeling Lucky.” Dad knew a variety of stars from Johnny Mercer to Lana Turner to Charles Mingus.
On this fine night in July, about 300 were getting smashed, listening to one monster setoff jazz out on the lawn, and, it was a year after the hitching-hiking incident, one of them was Dr. Cleo Alexander : the most flirtatious/pretty doctor anyone ever knew, or hoped to know.
So it was a big night, and here the mom of little miss sexy from the other private school up in Rochester saddles up to the three teenage bartenders…
“Boys, do you know my daughter Lisa?”
“Sure we do,” Thomas said. Thomas lived down at the other end of Trevor Court, and most of the time his family’s obsession with golf prevented them from buying a cottage at the lake, some 40miles away from their investment in the Country Club of Rochester. It was a rarity to have him down for the weekend. Also handing out drinks that night was Jerry, the neighborhood basketball and soccer star.
“Well,” Cleo continued, “she’s having a sleep-over down the lake. The girls have tents up behind the tennis court. Why don’t you go down and have a panty raid,” she said, slightly tipsy, but matter-of-factly.
The three of us, dumbstruck, looked at each other as if all our dreams had come true.
Jerry “Thanks for the tip mum,” as if British, and we were off, out of there, sprinting 35 yards to the dock, firing up the inboard/outboard engine on a 16-foot Glastron, not checking the gas lever, nevermind that it was pitch black, I had only been to their house once, ,and I couldn’t remember whether it was three or four points from Tichner’s Point to (and beyond) Rochester Point. Of course, Menteeth Point was first up as a landmark. But, at just around midnight, only points were a guide, and damn it, which came first Rochester or Seneca Point? I knew Seneca was a much more dramatic outcropping, and guessed correctly that Rochester was before Seneca. Even better, we didn’t run out of gas.
“What the hell Barry, it could be any of these places,” Jerry chirped in the cool night air. Canandaigua’s water only gets to about 67 degrees in a good august, so at night, the lake cools the air.
“But I know their dock is square and they have a boathouse with a bedroom over it for guests. Sure enough this place fits that, and I know I’m right.”
“I hope, Thomas said in testosterese. “Throw me a line,” which he tied to a dock post in a hasty but accurate bowline.
“OK boys, here we go, but if this is the wrong house, we just turn and run, right?”Jerry asked.
As soon as we got up the steps I knew I had gotten lucky because I recognized the compound which included two wooden houses carved out of a hill that led up to the tennis court.
“You can hear them up there,” I said, pointing to the tennis court. At full pace we jogged up and Thomas yelled “We’re here ladies.”
They screamed, then one said “who are you, go away, this is private property.”
“Is that you Lisa?” I asked. “Your mother sent us down here from my parent’s party.”
“Get out of here, she did not,” Lisa belched as she said.
“It’s Barry, I’ve seen your dad out at the jazz club, we’re just out late to have fun, we’re not criminals.
“Let me take a look at you,” Lisa said, as she unzipped a six-man tent, her flashlight ablaze. “Oh bit’s you three, I see. Well then, why exactly would your parents let you drive a boat so far at night? And why would my mom send you down here to ruin our slumber party?”
Never shy around women, Thomas spoke the truth: “she sent us down on a panty raid..”
“OK, that’s it, get out of here!”
“But wait,” Jerry protested, that’s exactly what she said, but thatb doesn’t mean that is what we came down here to do.”
“I have an idea,” Thomas said. “There are three boys and three tents, if we put one boy in each tent, that wouldn’t be a problem would it? Just to talk.”
“Wait, I’ll ask, “ Lisa said, walking back toward the tents.
“Nice thinking,” Jerry said, jabbing an elbow into his ribs.
“I’ve got Lisa’s tent no matter who else is in there,” I said.
“How do you figure that?” Thomas asked.
“My parent’s party, my boat, my lake knowledge, my pick,” as the snob in me woke up for a late night stroll.
“Oh what an ass, “ Thomas said. “Let’s shot rock, scissors, paper.”
“You and Jerry are free to play for the last two tent, but Lisa’s is mine,” I reiterated. “Since you have no idea who she invited, what’s there to fight over?
Lisa’s flashlight came back in graceful motions its owner displayed, seemingly at all times.
“OK we’re agreed you can stay, but no monkey business with my friends,” she said. I grabbed at her hand, she pulled it away, but I followed closely to her tent where Susan and Melissa were giddy with anticipation, or so it seemed to me. She re-zipped the tent, hung a flashlight by a cleverly constructed intertwine of bungie cords.