I’ve lived here my whole life and for months I’ve been planning my very first grunion run. Grunion are small fish that spawn along Southern California beaches right around the full moon. They spawn for about four days in the sand along the shore. I’ve never seen it before and I’ve heard it’s pretty amazing.
I took my usual route from work to the Pacific Ocean. The day was warm and beautiful in Burbank, but once I started driving through Brentwood, the marine layer was visible. It was dense and I knew there was no way I’d get a beautiful sunset, so I walked to the Promenade for dinner. On my way back to the pier, there were a few boys walking behind me and cat calling me. It’s been years since I was treated like an adolescent and not someone’s mom, so I ignored it and laughed to myself a little.
In hindsight, the problem was because I was ignoring them. My music is loud and generally enough to dissuade anyone that hasn’t made eye contact, but they were persistent enough to act like monkeys around me. I was having a kid free night and not in the mood to mother someone else’s kids, so I ignored their friendliness and allowed it to become mocking aggression and cat calls that are supposed to make me feel flattered because sometimes men don’t know any better. I generally do know what I look like and didn’t need the description through their eyes, as amusing as it might have been for them.
Ideally, grunion like darker beaches with fewer people, but my beach trips are solo trips and for safety, I figured a more populated beach with ferris wheel lighting would be best. I had about an hour until the run window started at 10:22 so I swapped my purse for my folding chair that is at home in my trunk and started across the sand. I actually keep a high and low tide calendar in the car. The farther away from the ferris wheel I walked, there were more couples dotting the sand like a minefield of “get a room.” I was excited about fish porn, not people porn.
I found a quiet spot and sat in my chair with music in my ears and singing loudly enough to the ocean that people within earshot probably thought I was drunk or crazy. As high tide began to reach toward me, I jumped up at least three times, laughing that I was able to run away from water. (It’s the little things.) I was also chatting with a guy that didn’t work out into anything more than friendship. He’s fun to keep around because he keeps me laughing. We texted about the fact that I didn’t bring extra clothes and wet denim is uncomfortable. I considered the idea of driving in my underwear but I haven’t done that since I was a teenager and I wouldn’t want to have to explain that to a police officer. I’m not sure I could still get out of a ticket. I’m also not sure if it’s illegal. I once had a friendship with a cop that showed me crack wrapped up in tissue paper and told me that peeling labels off of beer bottles or nail biting were signs of sexual frustration. I don’t remember why that friendship didn’t last, but I think I still came out the winner.
At some point, another family threw their shoes in the sand in front of me and started running in and out of the ocean. While ocean kissed night air is cold, ocean water gets warmer the moment the sun sets. I decided I wasn’t in the mood to borrow someone else’s kids on my kid free night (I might skip Finding Dory this weekend) and I wasn’t happy with what the humidity was doing to my hair. I decided to leave.
As I was leaving, I thought about the idea that I got skunked and didn’t get to watch fish spawning. Part of it was because I left early. Part of leaving early was remembering the many times I sat quietly with baited hooks and wanted the fish to come but watched falling stars along rocky shores in Big Bear until dawn broke over me in the east with a painful chill that ran from the sun and through my body. The stars made the cold worth it. There was too much light pollution and too many low lying clouds to see anything worth staying for. I wanted to watch fish porn but I was avoiding danger and it made the night a silly but wasted effort.
I’m not giving up on it but it’s like dating. There has to be something good enough to make up for the possibility of getting skunked. The conversation has to be good enough. If I’m going to humidify my hairdo to death, there should at least be a bonfire to make the hair washing necessary and worthwhile. Maybe I’ll plan another trip and bring Sparky, my pink stun gun. Nothing says, “I love you daughter,” like a stun gun powerful enough to make a grown man pee on himself. It’s in a drawer and needs to be charged. It doubles as a flashlight because Dad thinks of everything.
On my way home, my mood was lightened and I was back to singing too loudly and driving too fast. There was a car that pulled up alongside me. I can see how weaving through traffic in my car could make me look like I borrowed my Mom’s 2016 Camry. There’s a faded autism awareness magnet in the back and my kid’s handicap placard is always hanging from the rearview mirror. Kid1 and Kid2 have them and they’re not physically handicapped, but they had runner tendencies and a really cute and sympathetic (to me) doctor. The driver last night caught up to me, slipped into neutral to rev his engine and wanted to race me. I mean, I was changing lanes but it was more like the boat like moves of a 1990 Cadillac Fleetwood. I wasn’t weaving through cars to see how close I could get before creative became reckless and then stupid. I gave up frat boys with dropped cars and mufflers that announced their arrival in Rice Rockets with after market modifications when I traded those drivers for the man that drove a 1967 Chevy Nova. My Dad still has his 1969 Chevy Nova. I’ll leave that right there and trust you to make the connections I couldn’t see in 2000. Back to last night . . . that’s when I started laughing at him and slowed down.
I’ve had some really silly highs and felt like a 12 year old in a good way over the last couple of days. In the last few months, I’ve been told I could pass as a 25 year old. On my way home, I felt like that age is dropping. There is something to be said about uncontrollable smiles and silliness. It was a night full of laughter and I am oddly satisfied with the way my day went.
To recap: Yay for grunion runs that become plans for a bonfire and quieter beaches with my stun gun.