Yesterday's Magazette

14 – One Summer

It Happened One Summer

Story and photo by Richard Ong

It was in the summer of 1985 when my friend Davey and I decided to head out to a beach resort to experience the sunny ambience of Darwina’s Green.

At least that’s how it was described in the Ontario vacation resorts catalogue that I had leafed through. When I called, Davey was getting ready for bed. “This is so sweet, Davey,” I told him over the phone. “I’m looking at an awesome shot of the beach – clean yellow sands with rows of blue and black striped lounge chairs lined up, each with a beautiful babe on top getting a tan. This is the place. This is where we’re going next weekend!”

I heard Davey yawn. “Sounds like a party, Richie,” he said. “Okay, let’s go for it. I’ll have to ask my dad to book it for us since neither of us have any credit cards.”

The following Friday we took off, but after three hours on a packed bus with a broken air conditioner, I was ready to throw in the towel and head home. The little brat who sat in front of me kept giggling and spitting out his dinosaur cereal bits at my face. His mom kept looking at me with suspicion as I dabbed my forehead with a damp handkerchief.

The bus from Toronto would travel up north only as far as the next town after Barrie. Davey and I almost missed our last stop as we dropped our bags and searched through our pockets for some loose change to make a call to the resort. We were told that someone would pick us up within the hour. We both looked at our watches as our stomachs groaned. As if reading our thoughts, the cheerful voice from the resort promised that some food would be set aside for us at our cabin. I hung up and we both sat down on the side of the dusty road on our bags. I winked and told Davey how sexy the “voice” on the other end of the line sounded. We both smiled and agreed that things were looking up!

When we arrived  at the resort, Suzanna, the acting assistant manager-in-training of Darwina’s Green, welcomed us and offered to give us a tour of the resort.. She looked no older than twenty, but she was gorgeous. Naturally, Davey and I remembered almost nothing of what she said during the tour, except  the way her hips swayed in rhythmic synchronicity to the click-clack of her high heels. We were both so happy to have met her that even the soggy cold cuts and dried-up broccoli that were set aside for us as our final meal for the night tasted exquisite. We couldn’t wait for the following day to flex our muscles and meet some of the beauties, both on land and in the water.

That was our dream that night. But the next day was not quite what we expected.

Davey and I were met by a strong-jawed, military-looking man. Mr. Yusupov (as he preferred to be called – not “John” nor “Johnny,” but “MR. YU-SU-POV!”) paced back and forth on the somewhat unstable boardwalk above the water. The open waters of Georgian Bay were a favorite destination for a lot of water sports enthusiasts. Davey could do a half-decent thread in the water for several minutes while I had a remarkable talent of sinking to the bottom without a personal flotation device. Mr. Yusupov seemed to have read our minds as he grinned at our skinny legs.

“I hear you gents would like to have a crash course on water skiing, am I correct?” he asked in a strong, baritone voice.

“Sir, yes sir!” we both replied.

“I like your enthusiasm,” he said. “That’s good. You’ll need it!” We caught a glimpse of our  reflections off his aviator sunglasses: two elongated figures, each wearing oversized bathing trunks and water skis. We shivered in the cold, brisk morning air and barely had time to secure the straps of our personal flotation devices when he gave us both a rough shove.

We went into the water and it felt like a million needles were poking my skin. The water was freezing cold and we began threading like mad men to keep our bodies warm.

“Why the hell did you do that?” Davey said. “You messed up the gel on my hair!”

Without an apology, Mr. Yusupov jumped into his speedboat and threw a tethered handle bar in my direction. “Here,” he said, “you go first and make sure you bend your knees up to your chest with your skis pointing vertically up above the water. And do not let go of the bar! The boat will pull you up to a standing position. And, before you know it, you’ll be coasting along the water like a pro.” He paused. “Do you have any questions?”

My heart hammered in my chest as I shook my head.

“Great,” he said. “Here we go!” He then revved the engine a few times and hit the gas. The speedboat carved a sharp path into the open water and I felt the sockets of my arms being pulled apart. A moment later, a violent force ripped the handle bar out of my fingers and I found myself soaring into the air like Superman! There was a moment of elation when I realized I was surging through the air like a cruise missile, free of any constraints that would tie me to the earth.

However my smile soon faded when the force of gravity took possession of my body with a vengeance. I fell face-first into the bay, skipped once like a flat stone, before half-sinking up to my waist while I gagged on a clump of weeds that somehow found its way into my mouth after I hit the water.

Davey splashed and convulsed with laughter some fifty yards behind me. Then he stopped when Mr. Yusupov turned the boat around, pointed his finger at him and threw the handle bar in his direction.

When we finally dragged ourselves back into the lobby of the main building, Suzanna saw us and said, “My God, what happened to you two?”

“We had a run-in with the ‘Terminator,’” Davey groaned.

“A Mr. Yusupov,” I said.

“You met my brother?” Suzanna said. “How was he? This is his first time teaching anybody how to water ski. He was so excited he never stopped talking about it last night.”

“He’s your brother?” Davey said. “But he looks nothing like you.” I stared at the red lines imprinted on his body by the sudden impact of the water. He looked as bad as I felt.

Suzanna laughed. The soft twinkling in her eyes almost made us forget how much our bodies hurt from the ordeal. “I must apologize,” she said. Johnny was probably overly enthusiastic on his first day. I hope he wasn’t too hard on you. He really is a sweetheart when you get to know him.”

“There was hardly time to introduce ourselves,” I said. “I guess we all got caught up in the spirit of the moment.”

“How far are we from the beach?” Davey asked.

“Not far at all,” Suzanna said. “Go round the back of the building and you’ll see a path and some signs that will lead you directly into the beach area. There are canoes and pedal boats that you can use at your own leisure. Enjoy the rest of the day.”

When we arrived at the beach, Davey looked around and said, “So, where are all the beautiful babes?”

“Hey, don’t blame me for this,” I said. “I’m as much of a victim of false advertising as you.”

“But you read the brochure and even talked to the resort.”

“Yeah, right. I was gonna ask them if they had gorgeous women on the beach all summer long.”

Davey threw his hands in the air. “What the hell. Let’s make the most of what we got and take one of these pedal tubs out for a spin.” Davey grabbed one end of the tiny boat and I the other and we carried the tiny craft into the water.

As we struggled to pedal our way further out into the bay, we soon ran into some heavy traffic that churned the water around us. One sleek-looking red speedboat came within a hundred yards of our tub, creating a rolling sensation on the water. Some of the bigger waves splashed into our pedal boat. The next minute, a motor boat nearly ran us over. I cursed at the driver at the top of my lungs until my voice grew hoarse.

The pedal boat began to sink and my heart froze in my chest when I realized what was happening. I scrambled to put on one of the personal flotation devices but ended up strapping it backwards in my panicked state.

Davey laughed and calmly squirted sunscreen on his hand and proceeded to cover his body with lotion. “Richie,” he said, “take off your shoes and use them to bail out the water.”

Without thinking, I followed his instructions and used both shoes to bail the water out of the pedal boat as fast as I could. That’s when I saw several pieces of paper float out into the bay.

“Oh, crap!” I screamed. “That’s my money!” I reached out to try and save some of the notes from the water and that bit of foolishness nearly tipped over the boat.

Davey doubled over, laughing. But I felt like belting him when I realized he knew where I had kept my money beforehand.

When we finally retrieved most of my money and returned to our cabin, we were so exhausted from the day’s ordeal that we fell asleep. But a few hours later, Davey was shaking me awake.

“Richie, wake up!”

“What?” I said, somewhat irritated for having a restful slumber rudely interrupted.

“I went for a walk about half an hour ago and ran into Suzanna,” he said. “I asked her about activities at the resort tonight. And check this out! She said there’s a dance hall in the main building beside the restaurant. I bet that’s where the babes are right now!”

“Are you sure about this?” I said, rubbing the lingering sleep from my eyes.

“Well, there’s only one way to find out. So get dressed, Romeo.”

Later, when we approached the hall, the muffled sound of a beat could be heard. The steady rhythmic base began to excite us. I popped some breath mints into my mouth and gave some to Davey. We could hear the sound of laughter from some of the women inside. Davey gave me a nudge and a wink. I took a deep breath and opened the doors to the dance hall.

Sadly, we discovered it wasn’t a dance hall.

It was some sort of auditorium with a raised stage up front. A big band was playing in one corner. The band consisted of four white-haired dudes, wearing black tuxedos and red cummerbunds.

The remainder of the stage was occupied by more white-haired dudes dressed in casual shirts and slacks, dancing with white-haired elderly ladies who twirled around in their colorful garden-party dresses.

They appeared to be having a good time. And I doubt if the seated audience around the same age, who were cheering and clapping for the performers onstage, ever heard Davey and I scream and bolt out the door, and race back to the lobby.

After that, we couldn’t wait to get back home.

Vol. 37 No. 2 – Yesterday’s Magazette – Summer- 2010

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