Avast Ye Modern Day Pirates,
This here be mi first of many urban pirate tales. Draw a ration of grog and settle down for a moment as we fill our sails and take a journey into life’s adventures, pleasures and perils.
This particular tale lends to describing a major worldwide event in 1983. AIDS was rampant! Fear had put an end to the free love generation and simpler fun times. Unfortunately for me, Florida had one of the first publicized cases of AIDS, creating much paranoia and putting a sexual damper on my last high school spring break. Prior to that year the music, trends and social climate were much more loose and friendly. The world hasn’t been the same since.
SEX Survey 2013
It was one of those days at work. I wanted to be anywhere else. A telecommunications engineer’s mind (well, mine anyway) is always taxed. The latest design exercise had left me disgruntled and at that ill state of burnout. When I left my cubicle and walked outside to take lunch, the warm sun caressed my face, the breeze captivated me and instantly the notion of a boat ride consumed me. It was mid-January 2013 and the weather was perfect! The thought of going back to work made me cringe. My associate Cowboy happened by as I was steeling myself away from the burden of going back to my cubicle.
“Cowboy, Feel like a Happy Hour cruise today?” I asked. “I am burnt out.” He gladly agreed. A plan was quickly made for boating, libations, and a break from the grind. Being on the water always has a way of clearing your head and we were in need for some decompression.
So we met at my dock after work, jumped on the boat, cracked open a cold one and cruised up the intercostal to Delray Beach’s Veteran’s park. We docked the boat and strolled over the intercostal bridge to the Sandbar, the brand new outdoor bar on the beach with pirate potential. It was happening for a Tuesday. Snowbirds packed in courtesy of this winters’ latest northern freeze. We took a seat at the bar and ordered a few drinks. I proceeded with the same ole pirate behavior, socializing with anyone who would have me. Cowboy and I had broken the golden rule today: don’t drink on an empty stomach! Moral improved instantly.
“I go by Tennessee Bob”, I said shaking the bartender’s hand. Introductions and drinks were rendered all around. Conversation started flowing. It started with the wonderful weather then from the Florida Salt Life to boats, then Spring Break and Fort Lauderdale! Quite suddenly and out of nowhere, or maybe it was the rum, my mind was instantly back at Spring Break.
“I remember spring break 1983, my senior year” I told Cowboy. It was like a knee jerk reaction as my mind rebounded 30 years. And I was off, spouting out another tell to Cowboy and the bartender.
“My friend John and I took off in my old Audi Quattro from Kingsport Tennessee to Fort Lauderdale for SPRING BREAK! We were seniors and this was our last spring break as high school students. WE were wild about the trip!”
The story, as I told it that night at the bar and many times since started the same way as it was conceived back in 1983, thirty years ago in Fort Lauderdale! This warm night was taking me back to my senior year and I decided to reenact the scene! I told Cowboy of my intentions and he just laughed and gave me a friendly dare. So I jumped up and migrated around the bar as Cowboy remained chillin’ in his stool drinking his whiskey, grinning at my antics. I surveyed the place and found myself testing out my old school pitch on two wealthy couples having cocktails and appetizers at a table near the entrance. It was obvious by their demeanor that they were A1A beachfront wealthy yet old school cool. I strolled right up casually.
“Would you like to participate in a survey?” I smiled and introduced myself. The men seemed a bit stuffy and reluctant to respond to my intrusion. The ladies were curious. They just looked at me, not sure how to respond.
“Before you say no, let me give you the low down behind my question”, I said quickly, not letting them off the hook.
There was a moment of silence as I stood there showing enthusiasm and charm.
Ok, I am curious. What is the survey about?” asked the woman closest to me. So there I went like a raving news reporter. I stuck out my arms and took a sumo stance leaning down and towards them.
“It was Spring Break 1983. My best friend John and I were seniors in high school and headed to Fort Lauderdale!” I said in a soft voice. ”Our class motto was We are wild, we are free and we’re the class of ‘83!” I added proudly
They smiled and chuckled as they all remembered their graduations. I had their attention!I could tell by their nods and smiles that they were instantly relating to those ultimate youthful memories of Spring Break; alcohol, music, sunshine and sex! They were perfect subjects for my survey.
“So we headed south from Tennessee on to Fort Lauderdale in my junker Audi Quatro,” I continued.“ It was a great drive starting out as you can imagine with the music blaring. As soon as we made it to I-95, however, the thermostat stopped working and the car overheated. After some troubleshooting we figured out how to make the fan run. We sacrificed a speaker wire to bypass the thermostat and manually kick the radiator fan on so not as to overheat. You can imagine every time the temp gauge would near critical I would signal John and he would short the wires turning on the fan.
After much perseverance and ingenuity, eighteen hours later we were in sunny Florida! We arrived late in the afternoon so tired that we just stayed in the room, had beer bongs, and jammed out until we passed out.” I continued describing the trip to my beach front bar audience and they seemed entertained.
The next morning I was abruptly awakened to loud sounds and the whole room was vibrating. I jumped up and almost lost my balance from the lingering alcohol and stumbled outside to see where the racket was coming from. John just slept right through it. I opened the balcony door stepped out to see a huge stage of the beach. Sound checks were underway. ‘Til Tuesday, Bruce Hornsby and The Range, and James Brown would be playing on the beach. We had a birds-eye view of the stage! I couldn’t contain myself. I ran back in the room and shook John.
“You are not going to believe this”, I shouted. He jumped up and weebled to the balcony rubbing his eyes. The bright morning sunny cost him a step, but he made it to the rail. His eyes darted from the stage to the people on the street below to the ocean and then back to the stage.
Then he started this slow, deep chuckle that will always be how I remember him.
“Hu hu hu. Hu hu hu. Hu hu hu.” He grinned from ear to ear and continued to chuckle as his brain started fitting pieces together.
Spring Break has begun and we are right smack in the middle of it! It was breakfast of champions, swim trunks, and down to the street.
My audience was listening and fully involved in the story. I paused, smiled and took a quick swig off of my Cuba Libre.
“After some meandering along the beach, a Cuban sandwich and an espresso we mingled. The concert was underway. We migrated around the crowds, shooting the breeze with people as we went. There were so many hot girls. We were in heat. And it wasn’t just the sun.”
The younger of the two gentleman burst out a giggle that made his wife, with her attractive but over sunned and lifted face grabbed his hand and I noticed that my story was working taking them back to a simpler more innocent and flirty age.
By the time James Brown came on stage, the place was in full swing. We wandered around. I noticed something wasn’t right. John noticed too.
“Man, are these girls are cold. Am I that drunk?’ he asked me disappointedly.
“No, you are okay.” What’s the deal? I’m not having any luck either.” We speculated briefly about what we could do to loosen these girls up and got back to the concert. It was the best beach concert to date with the hardest working man in show biz-James Brown!
Later that afternoon we had taken in as much sun, alcohol, music and fanatics as we could stand. We took a cab to Las Olas Boulevard for dinner. The strip was happening! Sitting outside a cafe we found other spring breakers from Tennessee; 3 guys and a two girls. Both girls, one a blond bombshell and the other a pretty brunette, had that sweet southern demeanor. The guys were cool as well. They were just as fun and uninhibited as us and the subject came up about the social climate this spring break. John asked the cute blond girl if we were unappealing and reported on the cold shoulders we had gotten all day. The blonde explained that the whole place was a bit paranoid from this AIDS thing. At the time we didn’t really know what it was or how bad of an epidemic it had become. It was obvious today that people were scared. Social hues were greying. No one really acted like this in Daytona last year. “Everyone is paranoid,” she surmised.
Buffalo wings, burgers and more drinks came. We sat there talking up a storm and taking it all in.
“I know what we should do!” I announced standing up as if to make a speech. My swagger pushed the table forward. Beers sloshed and spilled all over the table. “Come on” they yelled as they grabbed for teetering mugs and dodged a tidal wave of Budwieser. “You can’t spill beer on spring break!”
“John, let’s pretend that we are journalism majors from the University of Tennessee conducting a survey!” Everyone looked at me thoughtfully and sipped what was left of their beers. They seemed to be mulling. The brunette spoke up.
“How do you define sex in one word?”, she announced. “Since sex is the fearful issue, let’s see how they really feel.”
“’That sounds like fun” the blond chimed in. “What is the worst thing they would say, NO? My word is HOT!”
“It’s better than getting a cold shoulder! I’d say we do it” John agreed. So we all voted unanimously that the idea was grand and we should go for it. The verdict was rendered and Jagermeister shots were shared in honor of our noble plan.
The rest of our vacation John and I surveyed everyone that would talk to us. We kept a list and presented it like a petition after each person contributed. They could only see the list after they gave us their word to keep their inputs original. We soon witnessed that many people were really freaked out by the onset of the AIDS epidemic. In those cases our approach was received as intrusive and intimidating. Some were really offended, fear being their inherent defense. But many welcomed our humor and survey as a great icebreaker and gladly contributed. Some drunken spring breakers could not limit themselves to one word no matter how hard they tried! By the end of our four-day senior trip to Fort Lauderdale we had accumulated over 400 responses to our Sex Survey! It was great fun and seemed to help most people relax.
That night with Cowboy at the Sandbar and my new east Delray Beach friends marked the 30th anniversary of when AIDS changed the world and the sex survey was born.
Taking another sip of my drink, I added one final sympathetic fact, “My buddy John was in a car accident less than a year after that trip and died instantly at the age of 18. I am also revisiting this in memory of him.”
I finished my rum and coke and paused, then asked, “So how would you define sex in one word?”
The woman closet to me quickly responded with a school girl expression and without hesitation, “Fun, F-U-N, fun!”
Delighted and somewhat surprised by her enthusiasm, I smiled, made the entry, and showed it to her.
“This is unanimous, BUT if one day you see this on a Tennesseebob.com blog feel free to claim your word. I intend to share this list with the world as a symbol of when the world was less crazy and scary, and more FUN! ” I winked at my first participant like a politician.
The others just sat there blank-faced. Perhaps they were embarrassed. I respectfully thanked the woman for participating in the survey and told them I would be at the bar.
Cowboy, kind of making a statement and asking a question at the same time, said “That went well.”
I quickly filled in Cowboy and the bartender.
It took a few days for Cowboy to contribute, but the next time he saw me he added the word “Passion.”
Throughout all of 2013 I continued my survey diligently. Thankfully my pitch was better received than in 1983. Most people had already chosen their word by the time I had finished my pitch. The responses covered a broad spectrum ranging from gross to insulting to divine examples of individuality. Some responses were down right hilarious. Each word is a contribution to the definition to the human race!
This list defines humanity differently than other writings. It is each person’s definition of procreation, civilization and humanity as a whole. How can such a controversial subject be so easily received in these modern times? Why has no one assaulted me in my attempt to ask the survey question? I believe that not only is it taken as entertaining and gutsy to ask the question, but it helps us snap back to the root of our cause and adds to the question, why are we here? Sex is the vehicle, plain and simple: procreation. It is not a complicated question and compared to today’s fast paced world, it gives people a moment to reflect on our true mission on earth to cohabitate and pro-create.
Please feel free to respond to this, my first Pirate’s Tale. Participate in the survey and claim your word. If you enjoyed, please share with your friends. Your comments on my blog are much appreciated and will be celebrated by the many other urban pirates living, well, two hundred years too late.
So in conclusion to the story, here is the list. If you are offended, get over it. Sex is a common denominator that we all share.
Claim your word if this blog reaches you and you remember me, Tennessee bob running my mouth to you asking,
“Would you like to participate in a survey?”
And if you care to add to this please do. You can remain unanimous!
Fair winds and following seas my shipmates on this vessel we call earth!
Sex survey 2013
FUNKtional—My boats name and my word!
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