Dave is a high school teacher by winter, a hero by summer. Morgan is a handy man/jack of all trades sort of guy by winter, also a hero by summer. Dave and Morgan were room mates as well as my next door neighbors. This is the story of how they became my heroes.
It was a rogue wave that caught me by surprise and curled me under slamming me to the bottom face first. I’d been body surfing along with my friend, Sharon before we said, “See you later.” and swam our separate ways. She swam to the North, I swam to the South. I caught a couple more waves and decided to head into shore. As I turned quickly to catch that last wave, it was upon me before I knew what was happening. I was upturned, flipped, flopped and pummeled onto the ocean floor with the full force of the Eastern Atlantic. Face flattened abruptly and violently against the sand, I felt my neck snap. Everything became silent and filled with an iridescent blue light. Then twirling, whirling, floating inside aqua mixtures of sandy, watery, bubbling whirlpools, a long silent half-life of reflection.
Suddenly the roaring noise of the ocean seemed to awaken me and set me into a near panic. I became aware that I may have broken my neck and I must try to move. My right arm was first to move, then both arms then my legs, eventually finding the bottom with my feet. The sand impacted my mouth, throat, nose and eyes. Using my fingers to clear it from my mouth and coughing it up, I managed to re-submerge and clear enough of it away so I could breathe and see. Upon touching my mouth and nose, I looked at my hand which, even in the wash of the waves was dripping with blood. A hairpin decision to not call for help lest I die of embarrassment on this crowded with locals July beach. I could see the shore and it didn’t look so far away. Now I felt the stab of the inevitable; searing pain in my mouth and nose, sharp, throbbing pain in my head and neck. I stumbled out of the water, eyeing the lifeguard stand which happened to be square in front of me in the dry sand. As I dizzyingly approached, I could see that sitting atop this particular stand were my neighbors, Dave and Morgan. I staggered an imperfect bee line toward them, holding my now swollen and numbing mouth, bleeding nose and sand impacted everything else. Approaching them I looked up, trying to appear calm and said, “Hey Dave, Do you guys have any ice?”
Both Dave and Morgan clad in only their navy blue, yellow trimmed lifeguard boxers looked down at me. Dave spoke first, “Do you need first aid? You’re bleeding from your nose. Let’s get you up to first aid and see what happened.” “Okay.” I said. “But, really all I think I need is some ice.” Morgan chimed in with, “I really think we should look at you up in First Aid. We’ll take you up there.”
Have I ever mentioned that both of my neighbors a.k.a. lifeguards, a.k.a heroes, Dave and Morgan are what you would expect of your typical lifeguards? With the exception of being more mature in years than most; excruciatingly handsome, physiques of Adonis, prize winning, perfectly toothy smiles, Bachelor of The Decade congenial personalities? Well, it’s true. I complied with their requests. Each one took an elbow to escort me to my first ever visit to “First Aid”. Once there I was now held captive in more ways than one. Dave, with his pepsodent smile, checked me over. He decided that a neck stabilizing brace was in order as well as a trip to the local hospital Emergency Department via 911 rescue. “I can’t go there! My beach bag, my phone, my chair; they’re all on the beach!” I cried. Dave, with his hypnotic hazel eyes, or maybe it was the head injury, said, “Is anyone with you?” “No.” Was my reply. “Morgan will go find them and bring them to you if you just tell us what they look like. You need to stay here and wait for the ambulance.” Morgan did and was back in a flash. Dave waited with me and brought me some ice for my swollen mouth. And more sparkling, reassuring smiles from his. When Morgan returned with my things, Dave asked him to stay with me so he could go save more lives. Morgan stayed in the first aid room with me while we waited and I begged him to let me take a quick cold shower to remove a pound or two of the sand that was impacted between me and my bathing suit and every strand of hair and skin fold on my body. He eventually gave in and allowed me to shower as long as he could watch. Ever so reluctantly, I said yes. As it turned out they have a nice private hot shower hidden inside those first aid quarters that should remain a well kept secret. I let him watch anyway because I had to strike a bargain on this one item. I didn’t want to spend another minute in that wet suit with all that sand under it rubbing against me. I certainly didn’t want to ride to the hospital that way and spend who knew how long it would take before I’d get a change of clothes. Did I mention that I let Morgan watch me shower? I did keep my suit on, you naughty jokers. It wasn’t so bad. At least it was hot.
911 arrived, Morgan bid me a fond farewell, Dave returned and did the same. The rescue workers were okay but they weren’t my next door neighbors and at least on that day they weren’t my heroes. One of them even had the nerve to ask me, “You were at the beach alone?! You should never do that and YOU, body surfing at YOUR age?!” To which I replied, “I was and I will. I’ve been body surfing my entire life and I’ll do so for the entire rest of my life. What’s wrong with you people anyway. This is a beach community!”
As things turned out once I got to the hospital after exam rooms, imaging studies, my brother being summoned, blah, blah ,blah, I’d been told I had a concussion, a fractured nose, lacerated inner lip, strained neck muscles, and facial contusions. Basically I looked like I’d gotten hit by the proverbial Mack truck and felt even worse. I think the worst part of the whole ordeal wasn’t the pain or even the humiliation. It was the freezing cold ride to the hospital in the air air-conditioned ambulance in nothing but a dripping wet bathing suit yet still filled with wet sand.
I had more than a healthy dose of fear immediately following my recovery from the rogue wave episode. I wasn’t too keen on going back into the waves, but I knew that if I didn’t the fear would overtake me and prevent me from enjoying one of the things I love most in life; swimming in the ocean. I gently forced myself back in just as soon as I could.
Do I know how fortunate I am not to have broken my neck or worse that day? I knew it then and I’ve known it every day since.
I always look twice before coming in to shore or catching any wave these days. You never know when a rogue one could come along and send you head over heels for rescue by your handsome, valiant, heroic neighbors.
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