I don’t go to the movies much anymore. It’s such a hassle, what with parking, long lines and the occasional mass shooting. Actually, every movie theater shooting spree leaves me musing, “Maybe I’ll wait until it comes to video.”
When I was a kid, I used to go to the movies almost every Saturday afternoon. I even remember there were raffles. Once, a neighbor kid won a set of dishes, which seemed an odd prize for a 12-year-old. (Maybe they knew it was the moms who paid for the tickets?)
Saturday matinees were great fun and we kids could make tons of noise. There were, however, ushers who roamed the aisles. Nowadays, I suppose ushers would be armed with Uzis.
One of the highlights of the Saturday matinees were the serials which ended with a cliff hanger, where the hero or heroine might literally be hanging from a cliff. To find out their fate you’d have to come back next Saturday. (Surprise, surprise, the hero always survived.)
I suppose this is a serial to last week’s column with two story lines: 1) Santa Monica resident Carolyn Hollingsworth and the Wave Chasers heroically attempting to relay swim the perilous 21-mile Catalina channel and 2) Yours truly heroically attempting to do a month’s laundry in one evening. Despite perilous obstacles and dangers, everything was successful. And the Wave Chasers made it to Long Beach, too.
But. Team Captain Carolyn and the Wave Chasers faced swells between 3-5 feet. Just getting to Catalina took two hours and was so rough that about half the crew got violently seasick. The boat rocked from side-to-side so the group decided Carolyn should start at 11 p.m. rather than waiting until 1 a.m. (Meanwhile, in the laundry room, looking at the six loads I had to do, I too felt queasy.)
The entire trip was under the watchful eyes of two officials from the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation. Prior to starting the first leg of the relay, Carolyn jumped off the boat to swim 100 yards to the Catalina shore. But the water and sky were so pitch black she couldn’t tell if she was swimming to shore or back out to sea. Plus, the seaweed bed was so thick she could barely navigate through it. Yuck!
A channel swim at night is definitely not for the faint of heart. At various times the Wave Chasers got stung by jellyfish on the face, tummy and even under the armpit. Curiously, the jellyfish only attacked the women. (Like Donald Trump? He only attacked Megyn Kelly even though Chris Wallace and Brett Baier asked equally harsh questions.)
The water was so choppy, while swimming Carolyn could hear many of the others on the boat and even the kayaker along side, retching. (Meanwhile back in the laundry room, even though a number of washers were marked “out of order,” I completed my first leg, sorting whites from colors and into the machines that were in order.)
Talk about spooky. During the first leg Carolyn actually felt fish nibbling on her toes. (Thankfully, sharks don’t nibble.) But finally the 1st hour was over and she high-fived her replacement, Chris Georges, and swam back to the boat. When she changed into a fresh swimsuit, under her wet one were various jellyfish tentacles. Yikes!
The sea continued to be rough, angry and relentless. (Also our laundry room during the busy morning hours.) But courageously, each of the six swimmers completed two legs and were well more than halfway done. Meanwhile, I too was halfway done, as I put my clothes in the dryer wondering to myself how does all that lint accumulate and exactly what is lint?
Finally, dawn came, the sun began to rise and the seas calmed almost magically. Schools of flying fish and pods of dolphins appeared as though right on cue. After 11 hours, 45 minutes and 35 seconds, the heroic adventure ended as the group of six brave and exhausted swimmers set foot on Long Beach sand.
The Wave Chasers’ historic accomplishment was duly noted in the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation records for posterity. (After two long hours, I had my clean laundry folded into my cart, not for posterity, but for another month.)
So it was that Carolyn, Chris, Sadie Standley, Jenny Dougherty, Noah Witlin and Tara Shim, and the kayakers, Josh Lara and Bill Kalmenson, bonded in overcoming fear and adversity, perhaps like no other experience in their life. (Though, Carolyn, who’s battled Lupus for a decade, seems to thumb her nose at adversity.)
As for me, I promise no more comparing channel swimming to doing laundry. And no more leaving a column cliffhanger one week only to finish it the next. Or, if I do, at least I should give away some dishes.