One of the great voices of American poetry and music has passed. Gil Scot Herron. This song, Winter in America, has stuck in my head since first hearing it in the 1970s.
Son spent his April school break with his grandparents in San Francisco. A trip to Chinatown and a hit on his savings account yielded a five-foot genuine Chinese stainless steel replica of Aragon’s sword, Anduril. Lord of the Rings geeks will know that Anduril came about when “…Elven-smiths reforged the shards of Narsil into a sword, setting into the design of the blade seven stars (for Elendil) and a crescent moon (for Isildur), as well as many runes. This sword Aragorn took up and renamed Andúril (meaning “flame of the west” in the Sindarin language), and it was said to have shone with the light of the Sun and the Moon.”
Junior decided his new instrument of mayhem needed an edge to repel pain-killer addicted home invaders. So out came the electric KitchenAid knife sharpener and the result was a sound to curdle your fillings.
In 1999, flush with a Forbes.com bonus (those were the days, when IPOs were in everyone’s future and even Tightpants.com had a shot at millions) I bought a brand new 40 horsepower, four-stroke Honda outboard engine. This was a good purchase, one of the best I’ve made, living up to all the pre-purchase expectations of owning a precision piece of machinery that was dependable, clean, and ran with the elan of a sewing machine.
It replaced a POS Johnson outboard, purchased when the skiff was new in the thinking that if Johnson was good enough for my grandfather, it was good enough for me. Alas, American manufacturing had already shit the bed as far as two-stroke outboards were concerned and the Japanese in the form of Honda and Yamaha were kicking their ass. I went on a poisonous-letter writing campaign, demanding satisfaction from OMC, the parent of Johnson, but alas, they weren’t going to replace it, so I showed them and spent $5,000 of ill-gotten dot.com riches on the Honda.
I babied it. I learned how to change its oil, the filters, the spark plugs. It never let me down, carrying me south of Martha’s Vineyard and all over Nantucket Sound in search of squid, stripers, bluefish and fluke.
Last year, Andy at The Boat Guy, my trusty mechanic, told me I had better start thinking of a new one. “This one doesn’t owe you anything, ” he said, but I squeezed one more season out of it, becoming, by October, the only person on the planet who knew the exact combination of throttle, choke, and cranking to get it start. The time had come.
But, hope springs eternal in the spring, and this March I was in the driveway changing plugs and filters and to my surprise, the old trusty silver engine turned over and bubbled away happily with a garden hose connected to the water inlets. I re-registered the old trailer, painted the bottom a spiffy new coat of copper antifouling paint with a jaunty red boottop — and launched on a bright spring day.
As I motored out to the mooring, happy to be afloat in April, I decided to run up the RPMs and give it a little shakedown cruise. Everything was copacetic until the warning horn went off.
Limping back to the launch ramp I popped off the lid and was met with a cloud of steam and a blast of heat. Something was very wrong.
So back on the trailer she went, and off to The Boat Guy with feelings of profound pessimism.
Andy called late last week. “She’s toast Cap’n,” he said. “But don’t despair, another customer is selling his old 40 hp for $2,500 if he can clear the financing for a new one.”
So it goes, tearing up dollar bills while standing in the shower. But the squid are out there, the bluefish and stripers have arrived, and I am itchy to get waterborne as soon as possible.
What better way to celebrate the First of May than a day game at that “lyric little bandbox” of a ballpark, Fenway Park, aka the Shrine?
Surviving Grady put it best:
“It couldn’t have been scripted any better in Hollywood. The aging veteran pitching well in a spot-start. The aging DH coming up with a big hit. The much-maligned reliever…never mind, Jenks still sucked. And for the finale, the struggling free agent with a walk-off RBI single to win it.”
Taking it all in with my son at my side and fresh scorebook in my lap, to quote the cliche: priceless.