I Thought Certain Things Went Without Saying
Saturday, June 27, 2009
We ended each of our days in Tahoe, watching the sun set over that lake of impossible blue topaz crystals. On our best sunset day, we found this boulder...

It was a bit of a climb, but the results were well worth it. We sat there, the adults with a classy, plastic cup of wine, the girls climbing about and watched the sun make its glorious descent to the edges of the horizon, until the lake was set ablaze in oranges and reds heralding the day's end.

As we sat there, admiring God's handiwork, we heard the beat of a drum, a tribal Matthew McConaughey bongo sort of beat, close by.

We peered down from our boulder perch and there, on the ground below us, stood Matthew, his drum strapped across his chest, pounding away. Of course, it wasn't THE Matthew, but a close second with blonde, unkempt ponytail, bronzed skin, stoney biceps and all.

My sister insisted we had to go check him out and we're always up for a good story, so we clambered down our boulder and ambled over to him, offering up the gift of an icy beer from our cooler.

He didn't even stop drumming as he smiled in welcome, facing the setting sun. Well, he did stop long enough to take the beer.

The girls went to the car. They didn't care about Matthew McConaughey tribal drummers. The two older girls were jonesin' for their hairbrushes. They hadn't brushed their silky locks for at least 20 minutes.

My sister and The Hubby perched on a rock nearby to listen while I, of course, had to get up close and personal with Mr. McConaughey.

I said, "You're drumming out the end of the day."

He nodded with a wink as if to say he recognized another artist's soul. Granted, I have never drummed a day in my life, but I knew just how his heart felt underneath those tan, well-developed pectoral muscles.

The Hubby asked him if he lived around these parts. He nodded in assent and said pretty close, Northern California to be exact, as he kept up his beat. I just stood there, really feeling his tribal beats. The other two, The Captain of Industry and The Attorney both started bombarding him with the questions. "What do you do?" "How do most people earn a living around these parts?" "Is it affordable to live out here?"

He stopped drumming and held his hands up, proclaiming, "Whoa, whoa, whoa!"

I was nodding in agreement. "I know, right? What's up with the assault of questions, you capitalists? We Artists are trying to feel the ending of this day through tribal drumming!"

Now, even though The Hubby and I are on different spiritual planes when it comes to things like tribal drumming and classic literature and feelings, we somehow find a place to meet in the middle. I also do appreciate his capitalism outlook on life. It gives us great Northern California vacations. But, I did not appreciate him ruining the drumming vibe with his practical questions.

Mr. McConaughey, being the mellow drummer he was, didn't mind too much. In between sips of beer and pounds, he informed us he made his money the same way a great majority of the citizens of that neck of the woods did. It was why he was so mellow.

He then brought us up to date on California marijuana laws and the amount of plants, qualifying California residents can grow. It seems there are a LOT of glaucoma sufferers in Northern California. I'm thinking there must be something awfully sinister in the beautiful waters of Lake Tahoe.

As we were getting an education on how great marijuana is for every ailment a person can have, even the common cold, we were interrupted by the shrieks of the girls who were racing towards us from the parking lot with shouts of, "THE COPS! THE COPS!"

We instinctively hid our plastic cups of wine under our jackets. In the South, alcohol anywhere but a restaurant, your home, or in the sanctum of us Catholic heathen's churches, is a punishable offense. Except for our annual Pirate Fest, a mini Mardi Gras where the streets turn into one wild festival of drunkenness and boob flashing, then it's OK to have a plastic cup of wine in public. The cops are too distracted by the boobs. It's major fun.

Our Drummer Man held his beer bottle out proudly and said to the girls, "Is is it a black car or a white car? They're both cool with drinking. But, if it's a black car, I'm gonna have to dash."

The girls were breathless as they reassured him it was a white car. He toasted us and said, "All good then. They're cool. They're my buds." I wasn't sure if buds was a code word for other pot businessmen, but the Drum Man didn't look worried as he sipped on his beer.

And sure enough, two uniformed police officers, looking like hipsters themselves came around the corner.

After greeting Mr. McConaughey with a "What's Up," they politely informed us that the park would be closing soon, but to enjoy our drinks and the sunset. I sheepishly pulled my wine out from under my coat and nodded.

One of the officers, who looked to be about 16, then turned to the girls and said politely, "And girls, always remember, if a police officer asks you to stop, it's always in your best interest to stop running away from them."

I looked at the boy cop in shock while Matthew McConaughey chortled in with a, "Right ON!" Then, toasted my three little fugitives. The cops tipped their hats politely and went on their way.

I saw my three girls in my head, tearing down the hill with their shrieks of warning over the PoPo. I said to the girls in disbelief, "I know you didn't just run from the police!"

Three yippy, what I call their Chihuahua voices, chimed in all at once, "We were scaaared! We thought we were in trouble!"

I then asked, still reeling in incredulousness, "Did you know they were the police? Or was this a case of my brainwashed Stranger Danger song?"

They said, "We knew it was the cops because they yelled, 'Girls, girls, stop right there! This is the police!"

And still they ran.

I couldn't believe it. All these years of molding them, teaching them right from wrong, shaping them into good, kind, decent human beings and they run from the cops.

I just really never thought to teach them not to run from the police. I thought it was as innate as, "It's never really a good idea when you're angry at the world, to load yourself down with an arsenal of semi-automatic weapons and shoot up a public place because you're in a bad mood." Or, "If someone tells you all the good parties are at the Crack House, don't believe them."Or, "Never go on the Jerry Springer Show to air your personal problems."

I'm going to have rethink some things. I'm now imagining them in a few years, the highlight of "World's Wildest Police Chases," with packs of screaming cop cars following them as they dodge cars, speed through interstates, over lawns, onto sidewalks, zooming around small children and finally end up crashing into a humble house filled with an extended, enormous Latino family. As the cops surround them, guns drawn and Latinos swarm out of the house, cursing them in Spanish, they emerge from the car, hands up, eyes wide, proclaiming, "But, my mom never told me to stop for the cops!"

Holy Guacamole! Now, I'm going to have to quit ignoring them when someone says about one of her sisters in a fit of anger, (a daily occurrence), "I'm going to kill her!"

I'm Joann Mannix and I am a mother of future fugitives.

Today's Must Have Download: There is only one choice on this sad, sad day. Michael Jackson. Even though I'm a punk girl at heart, I was always in awe of his amazing talent, a talent not honed but a true gift from Above. Michael changed the world with his music and his otherworldly dance moves. It was a tragedy that the demons that haunted him got the best of him. The world is less of a place now without the King of Pop.

And so, for today, a tribute. 3 minutes and 44 seconds into this song, the world gasped in collective astonishment. I remember sitting in front of the TV in the dark days before cable watching this Motown special. The family was grouped around the TV and as we watched Michael moonwalk for the first time, we couldn't believe our eyes. We spent many hours, trying to capture his dance moves.

It was impossible.

Godspeed Michael. May you have the peace you never found in this world.

Billie Jean....




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