A loose screw on Tybee Island

Savannah Morning News column

Aug. 17, 2014

This is what happens to a person after coming home from a week of house-sitting on Tybee Island where your most serious decision is whether to steam, sauté or boil shrimp – or to avoid dishes and cooking altogether and decide to have the outfit up the street do it all for an extra few bucks:

First, a recorded phone call from a popular local pet groomer where trying to line up an appointment for your dog in the summer months sometimes seems to take an act of Congress (ps, that used to be a joke; now it’s a matter of course): “Are you on your way with Charlie Elizabeth? Please call if you’re not coming.”

(Of course, you don’t call back; you grab the grungy dog, who starts to shake and protest because your behavior is so suddenly quick and desperate, throw her in the car, which you hope will start because these days it turns over three out of five times, and dash to the salon, rehearsing any number of white lies about why you are late, hoping they haven’t given away her precious slot).

Then, when you get home, there’s another ring-a-ling. This time it’s the dentist. I had forgotten about an appointment to deal with a “loose screw” from an implant (“loose screw” is a serious matter, by the way, despite the Looney-tunes sound of the diagnosis): “Miss Fishman, shall I assume you’re on your way?’

It’s not as if both appointments were not on the calendar. They were. But that’s the problem. Instead of starting at Sunday, my old-school, hold-in-your-hand, analog-like calendar for the year, the kind you can write on and scribble around the corners and sneak your new password on, starts on Monday. When did this happen, I ask? Never mind, the nitpicking, internal dialogue continues, I can handle this. It’s good for the brain to try something new, something other than fish oil, pumpkin seeds and more blueberries. It’s good to come at an object from another direction. I can be mindful and focused enough to remember that on this particular calendar the first day on the left will be Monday and not Sunday. Except I can’t. And I didn’t.

It’s hard to come back from an island. I love my neighborhood but somehow I can’t just walk out the door, find a path through the quivering sea oats, amble into the sea, flop on my back and spot a nearly full super moon sneaking through the clouds in the east and a lingering summer sun just starting her descent in the west. That just ain’t going to happen in town. Yes, I can sit and dunk ginger snaps into my cup of coffee at either location. Yes, I can walk into the middle of Daffin Park and see both sun and moon, but no way, no how can I just walk the beach, feel the sand between my toes and squint to see where that big old freighter making its down the channel is coming from. Yes, there are some oddities in our coffee shops, on our blocks, but no one named Breezy, a regular at the Breakfast Club counter that everyone seems to know who only drinks tea.

Even after you get home, it’s hard to rid yourself of that Tybee feeling. It’s a surreal sensibility that falls somewhere between day and night, summer and fall and the double rainbow we saw that day of the rains when a loud speaker echoed over the island to take cover, a storm was a’comin’. It’s a lingering sensation, kind of like last Sunday afternoon’s televised golf tournament from Louisville, Ky., a tournament that wouldn’t quit, a competition that bled into twilight with two or three players still in contention even though they couldn’t see to putt or blast out of the sand trap. I didn’t want the tournament to end, either, the same way I didn’t want the see the end of a Sand Gnats game I went to the following night on Dollar Monday, where for the first time in history I stayed for the full nine innings, even though the game went into extra innings, a result I had to read about the next day, where the Sand Gnats got the win.

I blame it all on Tybee, the land of shifting sand and loose screws and men named Breezy.

a screwdriver anyone?

this is what happens when you go looking for a screwdriver: you clean out your catchall kitchen drawer where you find six tape measures, one with cloth, the other a wind-up turner-type, a third with a retractable button, a fourth a round grey six-footer from the gorham tool company; four pairs of scissors; 12 pens, including six sharpies, six ballpoints; one hammer; eight rolls of tape; one mass of fishing line; one pair of pliers and, oh yeah, nine screwdrivers, four phillips, five flat-head. now, what did i want a screwdriver for?
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