“Hi, Coast Guard Sector San Francisco? Yeah we are on the beach near Daly City and we just saw someone land their parachute or glider in the ocean and we think they’re in trouble.”
This is the story about how we are fucking heroes.
Let me rewind and set the scene. That’s how real writers do it, right? I’m so legit right now.
It all started one dark and dreary morning… just kidding! We’re in California now! It was a bright, beautiful, sunny day. Craig and I nearly passed out from heat exhaustion on the BART as we crossed the bay and headed to Daly City. With the Folsom Street Fair and Oktoberfest and a Giants baseball game all happening, it felt like the entire population of the Bay Area was crammed into our train. This is the time that you can be grateful that smell-o-vision hasn’t been created yet because I would’ve set the scene of a million people – unbathed and sweaty.
Bre scooped us up from the station and I could finally stop mouth breathing. As she drove through town I thought, “Well this seems like every other suburb I’ve ever been/lived in…I didn’t know Rourke was such a square.” (Rourke is Bre’s boyfriend. That tidbit probably helps. I really need to work on my literary techniques…like setting the scene and introducing characters.) Somehow, while transporting us along the streets of identical homes and big box stores, she lulled me into a sense of complacency. I stopped paying attention. Suddenly we were not only at the beach, but somehow we had travelled back in time. Rourke’s place is basically a surfer’s dream beach house from the ‘50s complete with wood paneling, killer views, AND surrounded by horse stables. Rourke is outrageously not square. He’s basically a circle. In less than 5 seconds I had abandoned the others and started talking to the first horse I saw. Let this be a warning to anyone who thinks I care about them more than I care about hanging out with horses. You know what? If you’re not sure, bring me to an undisclosed location with horses. Let’s test it.
After a brief tour of my future beach/horse house, we scrambled down the path cliff. I’m not sure if I am more impressed or surprised that I managed to avoid spraining my ankle. The ol’ right ankle is a wild card after spraining it five times and it has given out on me once before and nearly killed me. It can’t be trusted. But this time all went well. Mostly because Bre let me borrow her shoes so I didn’t have to wear wedges. I didn’t plan well for this little day trip. I can admit that.
Before the sunscreen had dried on the sunbathers, the surfers had pulled on their wetsuits and raced into the breakers. Mimosas and beers were aplenty and the party was in full effect. (Unless you’re a Richmond police officer reading this. In that case, we drank water and stayed really hydrated. (More on my new police friends later.)) It was the hottest day of the year and there were some good waves, good people, and great views. What could be better? Other than if we had a chance to bring those horses with us, of course.
At some point, Craig looked up and noticed a parachute out over the water, but still within reach of the beach. We had a brief discussion about how weird that was. Where was he planning on landing? Where did he come from? Why was he over the water? Lots of questions. No answers. But it didn’t really seem to matter. Because sun and mimosas and bystander effect.
Then as we watched, he got lower and lower and he landed in the ocean. Not on a boat. In the actual ocean. The whole group that was left on shore started to discuss the situation in depth. He was clearly not supposed to be there. He probably wasn’t wearing a wetsuit so the water was cold enough to trigger hypothermia in less than an hour. He was too far out for any of us (including Craig The Lifeguard) to swim out to him. It just felt like no one was looking for him and we couldn’t get to him. That’s when we called the Coast Guard.
All of the pertinent information was relayed and we anticipated a speedy rescue. But it didn’t seem to be coming. All of us were worried about this poor chump who had apparently jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, right into the ocean, and might die. It felt wrong to just sit there (with drinks in our hands), unable to help, while his body temperature declined steadily.
We were all getting antsy. There was no sign of the Coast Guard boat or helicopter. Rourke and Richelle were hatching a plan to paddle out on their boards and tow him back in. No big deal. That plan was extremely short lived. Right after they jumped into the water and started to clear the breaking waves, we saw a shark jump. The shark was literally between Chumpmaster Splash and the surfers. Craig raced into the water to get their attention and bring them back in. It felt shitty, but there’s no need to risk additional lives.
Another call back into the Coast Guard went something like, “So you’re coming right? For realsies? Because homeboy is gonna die and we are all gonna be traumatized for just standing here on the beach. Save us all please. Kthxbai.” While we waited, KrystAl and I tried to determine if the things we saw on the surface of the water were birds or a human head. (This is a surprisingly difficult task.) And yeah – that spelling means it was a different person – not the person writing this blog. I promise I didn’t change the way I spell my name and start referring to myself in the third person. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t capitalize the A in the middle of her name, but I wanted to make the point that it was a new person. Because I’m getting better at introducing characters.
After three votes for human head and zero votes for seagull, Krystal, Craig, and I convince ourselves that the guy finally said “Fuck it!” and is trying to swim to shore. So we start tracking him as he seems to get drug down the beach in the current. The chopper and the boat finally show up and make it to the parachute, but we can’t tell if they found the guy. Craig gets a call back from the Coasties asking, “Are we right where you saw him? Yeah? Okay great. It was balloons.”
It was fucking balloons. From the Folsom Street Fair (that was foreshadowing earlier). HALLELUJAH! We all agreed that calling it in was the right thing, because you never know. Plus, it was like an unplanned training event. You’re welcome. As an added bonus, we all have bonus karma points.
Everyone on the beach was relieved. Except maybe the old folks swimming in the nude. They didn’t notice that anything was going on. To be honest, I’m not sure they were in touch with reality. But everyone else was glad. And so the party continued. We even got a visit from a whale. Thank goodness we had the balloons removed. Save the whales!