A Week at the Beach

My goals for this little trip to the beach were to get the guts to get gigs playing guitar and to talk to the same person more than once. Though meeting and talking to people is easier for me than it was when the trip, the idea of seeing what conversation comes after the one where I describe the whole lost job, house burning down, living in a van thing has a certain appeal. I’m comfortable playing guitar in front of people, but asking people to let me play is the hard part. Basically, I think the idea is to establish a little mini-life, you know, friends, a way to earn money–stuff like that. I’m not ready to commit to, say, getting an immobile domicile, but maybe I can learn how to have some of the advantages that having a normal life might afford.

For the past week I have been staying at a house near the beach in LA. That’s Lower Alabama, the Florida panhandle, the Redneck Riviera. From the back deck I can see the bay. I’m in a house that’s huge, compared to Walden, anyway. It’s been in the upper sixties and seventies all week. Wednesday afternoon I even had to put on shorts and walked on the beach for sunset.

Sunset

Monday I set out to walk in to a few bars and ask if they needed someone to play guitar. As I approached a few of them, I just couldn’t do it. Instead I went and had some oysters at a happy hour. At a little wine bar I ended up in conversation with a young couple who had recently opened a restaurant. I asked if they needed a guitar player and they asked me to play for a wine tasting Friday night. I didn’t have the guts to go into a bar and ask if they needed me to play, but I managed to get a gig anyway. And this was only Monday.

After I bid my new friends farewell I went down to the next town over. I heard someone playing guitar. I could hear a guy playing guitar and went in to check it out. When the guitar player took a break, I did muster the courage to ask if I could play a song, and I played a couple of songs. I was doing OK at this guitar thing. To top it off, the bartender gave me my drink at the local’s rate, saving me a dollar on my beer.

It was beautiful on Wednesday. After I had had a dozen oysters at a place where I’m on my way to being a regular, I decided that I really should go for a walk on the beach at sunset. On the beach I saw what at first looked like an inflated blue condom, but upon closer inspection appeared to be some kind of jellyfish.

Man o'War

I walked on the beach until the sun went down and then stopped at a little gazebo and played guitar while the remaining light drained from the sky. I headed back to the bar in time the end of happy hour, still carrying my guitar. A guy sitting at the bar asked whether I played and seemed interested in having me play at his bar. A while later, people started talking about how there wasn’t any music, and the next thing I knew, I was playing my little travel guitar on my bar stool. After a couple songs a woman came over from the other side of the bar and said she’d buy me a drink if her friend could play my guitar. The friend launched in to a nice country song that I didn’t recognize. I tried to harmonize on the chorus as it rolled back around, each time getting a couple more of the words.

Another thing I learned at the bar is what the blue jellyfish were. It’s the Portuguese Man o’War. I had heard of them before and knew that they were bad news. The Man o’War is not jellyfish at all, as it turns out, but a siphonophore, an organism made up of a whole bunch of smaller organisms, none of which can survive without the others. A guy who had surfed in South America said that they grow huge and have tentacles dozens of yards long that deliver incredibly painful, scaring, stings. There were quite a few washed up on the beach. It made me wonder how many lurked out in the surf.

As for my other goal of talking to the same person more than once, I pulled that off too. While I was playing guitar sitting at bar that night I got a party invitation from a couple I had seen there at the bar the night before.

A gig on Friday and a party on Saturday. Not a bad first week.

Here are a few more beach pics . . .

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2 Responses to A Week at the Beach

  1. Howell says:

    Way cool. If you keep at it, pretty soon you won’t think twice about asking. Just like you said you are pretty comfortable singing in front of people now. The same will happen with asking. Keep the posts coming.

  2. ben says:

    i remember men o’ war all over the beach after storms in galveston. one of many things about texas that i do not miss! though i’d probably get more enjoyment out of the scary little bastards today, forty years later.

    i, too, am in a house by the beach (for a very generous definition of “by” – about an hour by foot) near LA (in this case, the californian one). i think there’s a lot to be said for sunshine in february. i do not miss the meter of snow in mazama a single bit.

    okay, maybe just a little bit.

    looking forward to reading backward sufficiently far to figure out how you got your van to barcelona….

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