In what has become an annual ritual, I was jarred from contemplating the universe of stocks bonds and other such assorted instruments by a holy Sh** what was that roar. I looked out the window to see a flight of 6 F18 fighters thundering past, engines in high rev as they executed a tight turn roughly 500 feet from the window..flying in low and in tight precise formation, they are close enough to see the hot exhaust as they kick in the afterburners to screech back form whence they came. These attacks will continue for the next several hours as they always do. Its graduation week at the United States Naval Academy and the Blue Angels are back for their demonstration of aerial feats and acrobatics .My office is less than a mile from the Severn River and from my fourth floor perch I can see much of the display. They do things with airplanes I don’t think airplanes were built to do, flying a couple of feet from each other’s wings..It is truly an amazing show. Both of my children’s birthdays are this week ad when they were younger and more gullible I had them convinced daddy ordered the airplanes just for them!
It is also a reminder that Memorial day weekend is fast upon us and it will the official opening of summer here in the Mid Atlantic. The “season” as it were will open on Kent Island as well. Lest you think of it as “the season” on the Hampton or Newport, allow me to quickly disabuse of such a notion. We are nowhere near that refined. But is sure as h@@@ is fun. There is a pattern to summers on the island. By official decree…I am not sure who decreed it exactly but we do all follow it..Weekends start on Thursday evening right after work. Thirsty Thursday. The Crab Decks famous or infamous Happy Hour.(crabdeck.com) No one is quite sure how it became the gathering place as all the bars have a happy hour. But the Deck is right on the narrows with great views, they have dollar drafts and lay out a great buffet. Do not however entertain visions of getting to the buffet. It’s free. The island seniors and retirees discovered thirsty Thursday as well. From the way they attack the dishes of crab balls, shrimp, sandwiches and Swedish meatballs you would think they were homeless instead of well off retired folks with million dollar condos in Oyster Cove. My sister was hip checked by a dollar beer drunken little old lady in a walker over the last bit of shrimp..Which she then wrapped in napkin and stuck ever so carefully in her Gucci purse for a late night snack. There will be beach type music of the slightly redneck variety, heavy on the Jimmy Buffet, Kenny Chesley and Toby Keith, cold beers, a few gin and tonics glistening in sweaty plastic cups. Old friends, new friends and with luck a great waterfront sunset. This ritual will continue unchecked every Thursday from now until late October. And if I am in town, I ll be there.
Sun Down, its probably time to head to the Jetty Dock (jettydockbar.com) bar. Thursday night is after all Karaoke night. The place will be packed with the sound of really bad singing intermixed with dance music cascading about across the narrows. On a clear night with no wind you can hear the caterwauling clear out to eastern bay. But the Jetty fills up every Thursday. A few specs have seen this incredible microcosm of society in action and one or two of them didn’t even suffer any lasting effects. But the ladies are all there singing Shania twain and Sheryl Crowe. and where the ladies are..Well, we are going to follow. There’s even a couple of regulars who are pretty damn good..Theres one older black gentleman who can perfectly mimic, of all people, David Allan Coe and merle haggard. Mostly it is socializing, hanging within the guys, checking out the girls, possibly lining up a suitable companion for the weekend..Although it could be said that may be a case of bringing Sand to the beach. Early finish to the night as there is still one day of labor and speculation to be dealt with before we get serious.
Friday has no clear-cut rules. On Friday night, who has the best band with the most girls are were those of us without dates (or wives but that is a dwindling list) will be. Those with dates get the date out of the way for the weekend because Saturday is coming.
Red eye Dock Bar (redyedockbar.com). Memorial Day Weekend kicks it all off for the summer. The big grills will be fired up, the smell of pit beef and simmering Italian sausages will fill the air with clouds of smoke wafting around the two outdoor bars. The beer tub girls, that blessed sight of summer, will at their stations ready to serve your every need as long that need can be filled by the products of Anheuser Busch or Adolph Coors brewery. All the outside bar girls will back, smiling blondes and a dazzling redhead with quick service and tiny little shorts and halter tops. This Saturday Great train robbery will be on the early stage pounding out southern fried rock and roll from the palm tree surrounded stage. The growl of 1000 horse power engines in the massive speedboats will come to life as they all gather in the same place for the first time this summer. It’s loud, raucous and just flat out fun. Old friends, fast boats , cold beer and rock and roll. It’s a pretty diverse group but a great bunch of people. we have a few stock and bond guys, several business owners, the odd accountant(but then again to run with this bunch it helps to be a little odd). We all work hard and we all play hard and memorial day kick off the official fun season. On Sunday it’s a repeat but we add the scantily dressed girls of the bikini contest.
No question. Summer is here and it should be a great one. Thundering over the bay at 80 miles+ an hour in speedboats. Watching the Wednesday Night sailboat races at the Annapolis yacht Club with the fleet knifing their way to the finish line, colorful spinnakers filling the harbor usually right around the start of sunset. The mouth-watering aroma of steaks on the grill. Sweet corn from farmer johns. Spectacular sunsets. Dancing under star filled skies on the docks. Good friends. Great times. Fabulous memories.
But at sometime this weekend I will raise my glass in a silent toast to the reason for the weekend, those who gave their lives in the service of their country. They fell on the green at Lexington, at Trenton on Christmas Eve and in the snow at Valley Forge. The gave up their very lives in the peach orchard at Gettysburg, the cornfield at Antietam, the wilderness outside Petersburg and at Shiloh and chancelorsville. They left their future behind in the beleau woods, at château thiery and at ephey. They lie fallen on the beaches of Anzio, Normandy, Guadalcanal and Tarawa. They died at the frozen reaches of Korea at chosin and Pusan. They paid the ultimate price in the jungles of Khe Sahn and Da Nang. They are buried in Arlington and veterans cemeteries all over the country..or in graves in France, Belgium or some obscure south pacific island.
They are the reason I have the right and ability to work hard and play hard. Because of them and the blood they shed, we all have the right and freedom to work for own destiny, to be that which we would aspire to become. Because of them we can trade for a living, write books, study numbers. It is their sacrifice that allows us to enjoy our lives and our loved ones. And Although I suppose this is more so for those of us in the United States, their sacrifice made it possible for many other nations to enjoy unprecedented levels of freedom and democracy. Memorial Day. Remember them as you celebrate the start of summer. Some enlisted willing. Some were drafted kicking and screaming. But in the end they wore the uniform of their nation and died fighting under that flag that we may continue to be free and prosperous. I raise my glass to them in a salute of their honor and the sacrifices a grateful nation can never repay. To fallen comrades. We remember you.