It was a Monday in January 1969; a windless sunny day and we were on the beach. I was almost 17, have just passed the 11th grade and would start my final year in school in a week or two. The tourist season was at an end and the beach was fairly quiet.
It was my mother, my father, my two brothers, my sister and I. Also with us was my father’s best friend, our local preacher man with his wife, two sons and a daughter.
We were all sitting under beach umbrellas while my mother dished up food that came with the picnic basket. The stage was set for the disaster about to come.
Along came a man, visibly drunk, carrying a gallon of cheap wine. He was followed by a woman carrying picnic basket. Next came a string of 8 children, ranging from about 16 to 5 in age, each one carrying something. The man pointed to a spot right next to us and declared that they will sit right there. Every second word started with a capital ‘F’.
The man got talkative and asked my father if he was on leave for being able to relax on the beach on a Monday. My father confirmed that he was on leave. And you, big man
, the man said to our preacher, who must have had a good physique before his stomach ran off for a career of its own. Are you also on leave or did you book off sick for the day?
Note that the F-words were still used very lavishly. No
, said our preacher, I don’t work on Mondays, it is my day off
. That is funny
, he said, my day off is on a Sunday
, our preacher replied, on Sundays I work full time
The man looked at our preacher with real incredibility in his eyes. F*ck
, he said with disgust, but you’re working for a shit boss
I started laughing uncontrollably and so did all the other kids. Eventually I left my food and went into the water, still laughing and within a minute I was joined by the preacher’s eldest son. Every time we looked at each other, we started laughing again.
That night, about five weeks before my 17th birthday, we had another kitchen table trial. The charge? Being a bad example. My father ruled that I was not too old for a hiding and afterwards, while I stood in my bedroom rubbing my stinging backside, I was still laughing. I daresay, my last hiding was about the only one I did not deserve.
Enjoy this day and remember, Tuesday's child is full of grace.