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Away From The News

What’s there to say when there’s nothing? So I’ll just say it. I’m so old I can remember the pandemic.

Last Saturday, I was out on my bike on the boardwalk, trying to avoid people in lycra on bikes. Even when the world is burning and emotions gush, spurt, and heave, I keep a reserve of venom for the Lance Armstrong wannabes.

You can put up all the signs you want about bike lanes but the surest way to fix things is to outlaw bike clothes on the boardwalk.

But I digress as I regress.

I was on the boardwalk and a couple of young ladies shouted, “The boat!” At least that’s what I thought I heard, so I slowed to a stop and asked, “What’d I miss?” A whale, they said, right near that boat. I waited and waited some more and said to them, “I knew you were kidding.” No, no, they insisted. You have to wait three minutes. I waited. Nothing. I started to pedal away and they shrieked, “There it is!” I stopped, turned, and …nothing. They insisted it was just there. I told them I was going to take my bad luck elsewhere and they laughed and one said, “Maybe it’s four minutes you have to wait.” That made me chuckle and I continued on a no-destination ride.

I got off the boardwalk in the Beach 40s and biked around the blocks near the bay. It’s quiet back there and there’s no traffic and there are bungalows and views of Norton Basin that are pretty special.  (I know, what’s a basin? It’s a water thing). Anyway, you’re away from the world back there.

I stopped in the middle of the street, because there’s no traffic, near the end of a block. A guy was working around in his front yard and nodded at me. I told him he had a great spot.  And then he asked me if I wanted a look out back, right over that hidden part of Jamaica Bay. I looked at him with some hesitation but he insisted and told me to lock my bike and come on in.  So I did.

We went to the back of his house where a deck and dock stretched out over the water. He asked me a few times if I wanted something to drink. He told me he had bought the place 25 years ago and knew most of the neighbors who’d been there for many years as well. And then his wife came out and said hello, chatted a bit, and then picked up a long fishing rod that had been leaning against a railing. She checked the lure and then went to the dock’s edge and casted. 

I really did forget there were riots the night before in Brooklyn. I stayed for a while and said, next time I’m using that, as I looked at a hammock off to one side of the deck.

On my way home, a couple blocks over, I stopped where a car was parked outside a lonely bungalow that was mostly boarded up. A guy came out and said hi and introduced himself, “I’m Baba, B-A-B-A, but most people call me Bobby.” He was fixing the bungalow which had been damaged in a fire. He’d been here for Sandy and fixed the place after that, too. He knew his neighbors including the guy I had visited a couple of blocks away. What a nice small-town feel out this way. I told him I’d be back to check on his progress.

 I had three exchanges. The young women on the boardwalk, the couple on the bay and the guy at his bungalow. We all looked different. We were all the same.

By Kevin Boyle 

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