Record 11: Huntington Beach, Thursday, July 5th, 2012. Day.
There is a merman that lives in Huntington Beach. This man is a certified swim instructor. He teaches young children and, occasionally, old men and women the backstroke. He teaches them how to tread water. He provides them with the necessary flotation devices, should they be required (note: flotation devices are not always required. This depends, of course, upon the trainee’s swimming proficiency).
This man spends his free time at the beach, donning a golden spandex merman tail. He wears this tail into the water. Then, utilizing a standard dolphin crawl technique, this man writhes approximately one hundred feet into the ocean. Once approximately one hundred feet into the ocean, he thrusts his lower appendages to and fro, his torso just above water. It’s during this unusual recreational activity that this man garners the attention of tired-faced beachgoers, who point and wave and shout words and clips of phrases meant to express amazement and/or total bewilderment.
“Are you a real merman?” A little boy once asked, and this man replied: “Do you see me laying before you with a merman tail?”
“Yeah.” The little boy said.
“Well then I guess I’m real, aren’t I?”
“I guess.” The little boy said, and ran away.
Now, this man, for the official record, does not mind this kind of infrequent exchange. In fact, he welcomes all odd, infrequent exchanges, though he often responds with a cordial: “And good day to you!”, an all-encompassing remark that his fans adore, and accept at face value.
And boy, did this man have fans. Each day, at approximately 2 in the afternoon, this man would engage in his practiced beach routine. And, at approximately 2 in the afternoon, bounds of his awkwardly tanned disciples, with their striped towels and Teva sandals, arrived at the water’s edge to watch this man acquaint himself with a spandex merman tail and salty ocean water. And, each day, at approximately 2 in the afternoon, this man would wave and say the words his devotees loved to hear: “And good day to you!”
In recent days, these folks had grown accustomed to responding “And good day to you, too!” They said this in unison, their voices proud and admiring. It should be said, though, that this man was becoming weary of satisfying his followers; followers that did not solicit his business as a certified swim instructor. So, on one particular cloudy Thursday, this man, wearing his merman spandex, utilized, as always, the dolphin crawl technique, and swam to shore. He beached himself and announced: “Hello everyone. I am Jackson Bruce. I am a certified swim instructor. I often require that my inexperienced pupils wear flotation devices, such as arm floaties, to keep themselves afloat until they’ve mastered the dolphin crawl. I offer my swim-instructor services every day, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. If you’d like a swim lesson, I would be delighted to offer you a great deal. You will, of course, have to provide your own floaties.”
His adherents, now confounded and giggling, quietly backed away from this man, Jackson Bruce, and typed things on their iPhones; all but one young lady, who looked to be in her early teenage years.
“Why are you still here?” Jackson asked, sliding out of his spandex merman tail.
“Are you a real merman?” The young lady replied, her face scrunched and mushy.
“Do you see me laying before you with a merman tail?” He asked, and the young lady just stared.
“Can you teach me how to be a mermaid?” The young lady asked, and Jackson smiled. “I have floaties.” She added, and Jackson smiled some more.
There was a Starbucks on Main Street where Jackson sat across from the young lady. She gulped from large mocha latte, and inquired about very general mermaid things.
“Where will I find the right size mermaid spandex?” Was her first inquiry, to which Jackson responded: “You will have to look for yourself on the Internet. I’m sure you’re very good at the Internet.”
She took another gulp and burped loudly.
“Okay. So, once I get my mermaid spandex, what will you teach me?”
“There is so much to learn. First, do you know how to swim?”
“I have a pool in my backyard.”
“I love backyard pools. But you’ve not answered my question.”
“Yes. I know how to swim.”
“Well then. The first step is complete.”
The young lady smiled.
“Congratulations on passing to the next step, which involves acquiring your mermaid spandex.”
“Which I’ll buy on the Internet.”
She gulped again.
“Okay chill. I can have some spandex by next week probably. Then I’ll come to the beach at…”
“…approximately 2 in the afternoon.”
“Yes. And you’ll teach me everything I need to know.”
“For a fee of course.”
“Why a fee?”
“Because I’m very poor.”
“Okay. But like what’s the fee?”
Jackson thought to himself.
“Okay, okay. $100.”
The young lady gulped her mocha latte and shook her head ‘no.’
“Fine then. How much would you like to pay?”
“I don’t want to pay anything. But since you’re poor, how about like $50?”
“$75. And I’ll make you a mermaid.”
“Chill. That sounds pretty good. So what are you going to teach me?”
“I’m going to teach you to be confident, like a mermaid. You’ll need to learn how to be very confident in all situations.”
“Okay. What else?”
“You’ll need to drink a lot of water.”
“Because you’re a mermaid.”
“You know, I’m not giving the rest of this information away for free.”
The young lady stood up and threw a half-drunk mocha latte into the garbage. It made a resounding thud.
“You know mermaids and mermen aren’t real, right?” She said.
“Why do you say that?” Jackson asked.
“Because they’re just not real.”
“So why do you want to be one, then?”
“I don’t really like real things.” She said, and left.