Monday, June 25, 2018

My short career as a stone-skipper.

We were at the beach again this weekend with Whiskey. Summer in full-flower, public beaches are now closed to the canine set, but I've found a rocky half-mile of littoral that allows us to dip our feet in the Sound's murky waters as we watch Whiskey brave the surf.

There is always the danger that some cops will drive by on their ATVs and chase us away. In fact, a cop showed up on both Saturday and Sunday, surveyed the shingle, then turned his vehicle away and left us to our ministrations.

As dedicated readers of this space know, I tore my right rotator cuff five years ago and have been putting off surgery and putting up with the pain since then. The pain doesn't keep me from hurling Whiskey's rubber duck into the sea. 

Even worse than my right wing is my left, which suffers from jaw-clenching arthritis. It's not usual for either shoulder to keep me up at night. The pain is always with me.

However, the link of man and dog is such that Whiskey doesn't care. Often when she's tired, Whiskey will stare at her duck and then turn to me. "Throw a rock," she says to me with her eyes. "Show me where the duck is."

Most times I can "spot" the duck with an underhand toss, but about two or three times a play-session, the canardian-distance demands I make a painful overhead toss. I execute the throw with surprising accuracy for an old man, and Whiskey responds to the splash and makes her way duckward.

My wife, of late has grown fascinated with my ability to skip stones. I've always been a stone-skipper, always been shockingly good at it. It's not entirely unusual for me to get seven or even 10 skips across the brine. 

A couple weekends a guy was walking on the beach with his kids. He spotted one of my more successful skips and turned to his boys and said, "Look. This guy's a professional stone skipper."

I laughed, of course, but I'd be lying if it didn't feed, somewhat, my not inconsiderable ego. 

This Sunday, after another Zeus-like toss that skipped fairly from Rye to Glen Cove, my wife, innocently, said to me, "do you ever feel like having a catch?"

I guess that question hit a sore shoulder. I snapped at her.

"I missed the Old-Timers' Game in Saltillo this year because my right shoulder has a torn rotator and my left is arthritic. I'd love to have a catch, but truth be told I can barely anymore lift a salt shaker."

She nodded solicitously.

Then handed me a flat stone that I skipped across the sea seven or nine times.
By the way, I've just now done a little research on the web and found that there is a bona-fide stone-skipping championship held each year in Riverfront Park, in Franklin, Pennsylvania, a small city about 100 miles north of Pittsburgh on the banks of the Allegheny River. This year's event is just two months off, on August 18th. I have a good mind to fire up the Simca and head out to witness the event.

That said, I'm humbled to discover that Drew "The Canadian" Quayle skipped a stone 40 times to win 2017's trophy. And that the world record stone-skipping is an incredible 88 skips. 

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