May 27, 2024

Column: “That Got Me to Thinkin’…? “Notes from Ocean Shores”


“That Got Me To Thinkin’…?” “Notes from Ocean Shores” Chapter 97
By Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams


On the road again this week—this time just a two-hour jaunt out to Washington’s grey coast…a little hamlet called Ocean Shores where they throw around the word “resort” rather liberally—including it in the names of rambler motels with gravel driveways that look more like murder scenes than “resorting” locations.

Fresh out of our driveway, Clark (our black lab mix) repeatedly stomped on Jack’s nuts in the back seat of the truck—like so many wine grapes in a tub.  Why, after the first time, he didn’t cover his lap with the provided blanket is one of life’s little mysteries.

Driving out towards the beach my mind wandered to the time when my sisters and I were kids, and Mom and Dad dragged us to a little Pentecostal church on a Sunday while we were tooling up the coast.  Inside the small, smelly, wind-chapped sanctuary there was a woman with hydrocephalus (gigantic head syndrome) with wispy strands of hair curling down her Mardi Gras, papier-mâché-sized cranium who repeatedly uttered, “Long time no see, pastor…long time no see…” in a high-pitched voice.  Now—expecting us three, truly awful little ‘70’s kids to keep our composure with that kind of stimulus simply amounts to parental entrapment.  About the 30th time we parroted, “Long time no see,” in the back seat of our Plymouth Volare, Mom finally reached back and smacked one of us while the other two tried their best to stifle their chuckles.

Further up the road, we passed the Goodwill in Aberdeen.  I remembered one of my high school connections had mentioned on Facebook that he had been let go from that particular establishment, and it left me wondering what exactly you’d have to do to get fired from the Goodwill in Aberdeen.

There were three billboards each for cannabis shops and casinos on the way out to the coast.  That gives me an idea of exactly who their target audience is.

The entirety of Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven got us through most of the last leg to the beach after Hoquiam.  I usually text my friend Dave Key on my way through that little burg—his hometown—just to remind him what an armpit it still is.  Washington’s taint, I chuckled as I made notes on my phone.

The chance of not spilling a milkshake in a truck containing four people and two dogs is zero.  

It’s zero.

There was a Gun, Knife & Ammo show going on at the Ocean Shores Convention Center.  I would like to observe the weirdo that just goes there to shop for knives—“Got anything…stabbier?”

Jack wanted us all in matching t-shirts for his birthday dinner.  $156 later at Sharkey’s they were nice enough to throw in the bag for free—some deal.

A walk on the beach, a soak in the hot tub, Dugan’s Pizza, a Scrabble game, a poor night’s sleep, then Kookaburra donuts, limousine bikes, salt water taffy, go karts and ice cream (pistachio almond!) all in a 24-hour window.  Whew!

In my Mom’s hotel room during the Scrabble game, Michelle pulled out Cousin Nate’s wound pictures from when he fell on a metal fence post on his property, slashing a neat cut several inches deep that barely bled and looked like a cross-section from an anatomy textbook.  Not to be outdone, Grandpa showed us his head shots after they sliced it open to remove the cancerous tumors—I couldn’t help thinking of a raspberry and cream cheese danish with all that mess slapped together atop his skull.

And the people watching!…a stoic Indigenous kid wearing a Slipknot sweatshirt; a heavy set Caucasian family peppering the parking lot with double negatives and astute evaluations of each other’s shortcomings; a Doomsdayer preaching Apocalypse on signs at the roundabout; a grizzled old man with a tobacco-stained beard loudly clearing phlegm from his throat on the curb of the convenience store.

On the way back through Aberdeen we spied a dilapidated farmhouse-style home with a Michael Myers mask posted in the window, as well as a considerable collection of children’s playground equipment in the dead-grass backyard.  “Is that a daycare…” I asked incredulously aloud, my mouth agape as I trailed off.

We’re home now, washing four loads of clothes (we were only gone one night!) and grabbing takeout.  Heading to Philadelphia next month—should be a hoot!