Let’s try a little Coronado-style word association. What words follow June, July, and August, respectively? June gloom, July Fourth, and August swells.
Wait. August swells? Hee? Help us out, you ‘Nado surf-geezers! Are August swells still a thing, or just a nostalgic myth from a dim past?
I do recall summer days when the spray from heavy August surf would totally obscure the Coronado Shores building. Singular? Yes, our little stretch of Miami Beach began with one lone building, and the rest is history. But I digress, as always.
My favorite evidence of Coronado surf culture (if there is such a thing) was defined by two admonishing words of warning scratched into a large rock at the Avenida del Sol “keyhole”
between the Del and the Shores. This long-gone bit of graffiti tersely said, «Bail Kooks!», a clear testament to local territoriality, meaning keep off our turf, or in this case, keep off our surf! The obvious warning was plainly visible for many years, inviting “unlocals” to am-scray, serving notice to all hodads not from ‘Nado to beat it. You know who you are.
And you know where to go. Back to San Berdoo, you kooks!
I stuck to body whomping...
One August day during the so-called “Summer of Love,” the water in front of the lifeguard tower at “Lake Coronado” had been glassy and grease-calm all morning, until the first decent set began to roll in. Someone yelled, “Outside!”
Immediately, all the little squirts began bailing for the safety of the shoreline, but not yours truly. God only knows why, but for some foolhardy reason, I began swimming out toward whatever Mother Nature held in store. She was large and in charge. I was ten.
As soon as I’d swum out a ways, I realized I had little business being “outside” in the face of such impending “gnarliness.” But I was committed. You know. By that macho thang. The proverbial white whale of a wave I’d chosen to pursue turned out to be a rogue. A disaster waiting to happen. And it was about to happen to me!
But I wanted it anyhoo, so I kicked and stroked with all my scrawny might. I needed to catch up to the wave before it peaked, broke, and smashed me into bite-size smithereens! Mama Nature was hungry, and I was on the menu.
When the rogue reached its zenith, I was right on time, perched atop the precipice, staring down into the abyss below, where pain awaited with nasty big pointy teeth! At the moment of truth, I was launched over the top of the wave, propelled into mid-air as if shot out of a cannon from the roof of a skyscraper. As I went over the falls, my thoughts went from, “This is awesome,” to “Oh, no-o-o-o-o!”
As an unwelcome bonus, my unfortunate choice of waves was about to become a meat grinder, as I entered the all-too-real spin cycle of doom! In a flash (hello, Flash), dear sweet Mother Nature gleefully “grinded” me ever so forcefully into the ever-so-solid sea bottom!
This was actually a positive development, because now I at least knew which way was down!
Good. A frame of reference is important when you know you’re about to die. It gives one perspective. To Hades with perspective! I’d just been grinded! I struggled for the daylight glinting far above me. This took a while! Finally, and not a moment too soon, I exited the spin cycle, breached the surface, caught my breath, and when the next set rolled in, did it all over again. Lather, rinse, and repeat.
We were brave little souls, and gluttons for punishment! Glub, glub...