Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Bachelor's Beach

Summerfall Winterspring
I proposed to the Gal Pal last Sunday that we drop Simon off at his cousin’s place in Pass Christian and then hit the beach. Or maybe load up the kayaks and paddle out to Deer Island, so tantalizingly close to the Biloxi shore. “Sorry, babe,” she said, giving the answer I expected.  “It’s too damned hot.”  

The G.P.  has been in deep summer hibernation for going on six months now.  I know we’ll venture outside in daylight again, in November maybe. But it’s got me thinking that some sort of split-season gal-pal arrangement may be in order – a Proserpina to my Pluto, or a Princess Summerfall Winterspring to my Chief Thunderthud. Cowabonga, kids, I do like this idea!

So I went alone, which also turned out to be a good idea because my sentimental journey to Henderson Point and other long-ago haunts on the Mississippi Gulf Coast left me so despondent that I was unfit for anybody’s company, including my own.

Ah, Henderson Point! It was the scene of many Sunday picnics and smooch sessions during that wonderfully free and prosperous period in the late 1980s remembered as “My Happy Bachelor Days” – between marriages, before kids, in love with love as a constant state. I drove a convertible in those days, a 1970 Olds Cutlass Supreme, red with white leatherette interiors, and a big V-8 that still had compression to spare. Magic wheels to the magic spot with the top down and mellow old school R&B on the radio – Anita Baker, DeBarge,  the Delfonics – only then it wasn’t “old school.”

I was curious to see how the Point had changed over the years, especially since Katrina. I parked the Honda CR-V (how the mighty have fallen!) and strolled down the beach. The stately Murphy Oil Company family compound had been swept away and not rebuilt. I can’t say I blame them. With their millions, the Murphy heirs could build park themselves on any beach anywhere they wanted from the Lido to La Jolla. Wouldn’t you?

There used to be a breakwater made of huge concrete culverts that one luscious former picnic date called  “The Noodles.” It had been beaten down to a thin line of rubble. With heavy heart, I began to feel the passage of time in geologic terms as well as my brief span of life.  I suddenly remembered that I left my lights on (I didn’t) and beat it back to the car – after all of 15 minutes on the Point.

I took Highway 90 back to the city. I wanted more time to brood and to feel the pleasant click-click-clackity-click slap under your tires as you cross the small bridges Huey P. Long built on the many-fingered Pearl River delta.  That was fun. I also wanted to check out the funky little camps along Lake Catherine and Lake Borgne, with their amusing and often off-color place names. But they were pretty much gone too, gone with “The Passing Wind.” 


  1. Ronnie remembers that Cutlass Supreme well - both in its prime vintage and then just a few short years later. And he has quite a story about the scare it gave you both on the way home from the airport.
    I'd be like your G.P. in NOLA's hot weather - can't take it.

  2. It's amazing we're both still here to tell the tale. Before I sold it to kid for his prom night, that car had more battle scars than the USS Enterprise.

  3. Your opening line about proposing to the GP got my attention for sure! As for the Cutlass convertible, I remember one hair raising ride in that convertible with you behind the wheel as we charged through City Park late one night. That was back at the end of the Clayton-Smith era. I was visiting from SF, and I think Ronnie was in town also. You were living off Washington Ave. I never felt entirely safe in the back seat of that beast.

  4. Art, a really nice piece. I enjoyed reading of your day. And yes, just recently, Ron recounted a tale of that red and white convertible.