Geezers on sailboats, continued
One day me and Ray Johnson were blasting across Narragansett Bay, and he related a story about Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Both guys were the same age and had similar physical stats(Jabbar may've had an inch or two on Ray), when they ran to center court for the jump ball at a major tournament. As Ray describes the scene, it is pure Ray Johnson speak. He uses very direct language. "So Houlihan, I'm pumped and kind of nervous, ya know. So I charge right up into his space, smilin', and say,'what's up dude?' I got right in his head and scared him. He looked rattled; I had em now." If I remember correctly, this was the N I T between Providence College and UCLA.
These days Johnson has slowed down a little, just a touch. He's always had a tendency to charge at things. Like climbing aboard my sailboat last week. As the Old Port launch was approaching, I heard Ray yelling, "Houlihan, take that Bimini down, you're slackin', c'mon let's pump the main halyard and sail this thing!" And so it goes before he even scrambles into the cockpit and swings his left leg—encased in a huge cumbersome brace—onto a flat surface so he can un-strap said brace/contraption. Like I said, he kind of "charges" things. "Slow down, what's for lunch," I ask. "The usual,flank steak, orzo and noodles," he says unpacking the grub. The cumbersome brace is tossed aside, and we chow down. "How's the foot," I ask. "It doesn't hurt that much, but I can hear the screws that are holding it together. They crunch and grind," he says grabbing some plates. "Oh, that's great Ray, tell me more," I say while grabbing some steak.
After a lifetime playing basketball, baseball, and running, this guy's knees are shot, and says his ankles are like "shredded wheat." These physical things however, do not deter this guy from bike riding, lifting weights and sailing. He has no intention of slowing down, but I do see Ray accepting some geezer related issues. For example, he thinks sailing in the shade of a sun shield I designed, "is a good idea." I think it's a brilliant idea! That's why I had it made for summer sailing; I can stay out sailing longer without getting baked in the sun.
Five years ago, we'd never even think about being in the sun too long. We'd gunk up with SPF 50, put on shades, a hat, and then we'd go sailing for hours. Simple. Until some cool fall winds come, the sunshade stays in place. I'm the captain; it's my call. Finally, there will be the days when these two geezers will bundle up, and go get ourselves beat up on Narragansett Bay. We'll share pumping halyards, grinding and tailing and steering the boat into our own version of geezer hood—grinning and telling lies.