It’s almost Father’s Day, and I am sitting on the gritty beach of the Choctawhatchee Bay, watching seagulls fly. The birds are calling to each other just like they do in Jacques Cousteau documentaries.
You’ve seen the old PBS Cousteau specials. Jacques’s monotone French voice was always punctuated by screaming gulls. And he would usually say something profound like, “Ocean life, ahh, yezz.”
My father was a PBS junky. He loved Cousteau specials. He would stay up late watching those underwater films on public television. I think watching old Jacques explore exotic blue waters of Mexico made my father feel free somehow.
We hardly ever watched any other channel besides PBS. Then again, our TV only picked up three channels. Cable TV was not offered in our parts. And even if it had been, Daddy would have rather rotted in Purgatory than paid for TV.
But we always had PBS. The channel was fuzzy, but if you kicked the TV hard enough your foot would hurt and the screen would go dark.
We watched National Geographic
documentaries. We watched the Salzburg Philharmonic Orchestra play Brahms. We saw all the Cousteau documentaries.
When I was a kid, I got very into those sea exploration films. Because of this I was teased on the playground for knowing about the echolocational abilities of porpoises. Billy Tolbertson told me I was a nerdy mama’s boy, which was utterly false. So I had my mother beat him up.
“SCREECH!” a seagull screams.
The seagull lands next to me on this shore. I am watching him hop around. He stays beside me.
“Ahh yezz, ocean life…” I say to him, doing my best Cousteau.
He’s not impressed.
After my father died when I was a child, I grew to hate Father’s Day. At church, I’d see everyone acting sappy about their dads and I would get so green with envy that I resembled an early model…