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Feb. 20, 2018
10:19 pm


Vinnie Mendes On the Water

The replacement parrot 

A new columnist has joined Lakeside. Vinnie Mendes has spent his life on the water with the last 25 years on Lake Lanier. Here is his first submission:
Years ago, I used to keep my Tartan 36 One Ton Racer in a marina up north where they had a really neat bar, similar to the old “Cheers” where “Everybody knew your name.” It had a deck going out over the river where on Sunday afternoons they would have a steel band, and it was the place to be in the summer. After 2 a.m. when the doors were locked and the cash register closed, a select group of regulars would continue to party inside until the wee hours, and either take a sunrise cruise on the river, or simply sit out on the deck and watch the sun come up. 
Although this marina catered mostly to sailors, they had a few power boats and one old 50 foot aluminum houseboat which was owned by two architects named  Harry and Jake who had lived aboard it for years and were a little weird … actually, they were a lot weird! We just liked to keep them around as “mascots” because they were so screwed up they made us look good!
Harry always looked as if he had just stepped out of a Brook’s Brothers ad, with trousers perfectly creased and power tie on straight. He even polished his Topsiders! Jake was what we called a “Guido,” i.e. if one gold chain is good, 10 of them are 10 times as good! He always left his shirt half unbuttoned so everyone could count his chains!
The houseboat had a narrow gangway running fore and aft on both sides with a rail about waist high. It was so narrow that most people had to suck in their guts and sidle crabwise when traversing the length of the boat, or alternatively go inside through the living room, kitchen, both bed rooms and the bathroom to get to the other end.
Therefore, Harry and Jake decided to build a proper gangway that you could comfortably walk on. Both being architects, they designed something that would have passed the building code in any major city. They hauled the boat out of the water and did a beautiful job on the starboard side and were just starting on the port when someone pointed out that if they completed the project, they wouldn’t be able to fit the boat into the slip. They quickly confirmed that not only wouldn’t they fit into their slip, there was no slip in the marina that could handle it. 
So on to “Plan B.” They just left the gangway as it was and ignored the other side. When the boat was launched she had a list of about 20 degrees to starboard due to the extra weight. This was solved by simply piling cinder blocks on the port side gangway, which wouldn’t be used anyway. The outcome was a rather ungainly, asymmetrical vessel, somewhat resembling one of the old Jeep Carriers of World War II.

About this time their parrot, Sidney (after Sidney Greenstreet in Casablanca) passed away. We gave him a Viking’s funeral and buried him at sea.
Enter Paula, another of the characters who hung around with us. She was the last of the “Flower Children,” a dear sweet soul and we all loved her, but she had taken too many drugs back in the 1960s. She happened to be going to a gigantic auction/flea market the next day where you could buy anything from harpoons to balloons. Harry gave her $300 and told her to get him a parrot.
Next day, Paula takes off for the flea market and Harry and Jake take off for Atlantic City to make their monthly contribution to the casinos. There were no parrots at the flea market but Paula managed to find a beautiful green and red rooster! (He looked sort of like a parrot.) So she puts the rooster into the parrot cage on the house boat and goes home, mission accomplished.
All was quiet at 3 a.m. when Harry and Jake rolled in and went out to the boat. A little before 5 a.m., we’re all sitting out on the deck as the first glow of the false dawn starts to brighten the eastern horizon. Suddenly the silence is shattered by “COCK A DOODLE DOO!” You can imagine the volume that reverberated out of the houseboat when you consider the acoustics of being surrounded by all that aluminum. Both guys come running out of opposite ends of the boat in their skivvies, looking frantically around. Then there’s another “COCK A DOODLE DOO” just as loud as the first! They both headed for the opposite end of the boat on the outside gangway and collided amidships. Once they untangled themselves, each ran to the other end of the boat still trying to figure where the sound was coming from. Upon the third “COCK A DOODLE DOO,” one of them produced a revolver and fired off six rounds into the air! Then all was silent except for the peals of uncontrollable laughter that were coming from the deck.
That afternoon, Paula got to drive out to the flea market and return the rooster.

Author’s Note: All the occurrences and characters in this story are true. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty. Any similarity between these characters and any persons living or dead is a dirty shame!
Mendes has been sailing all his life and on Lake Lanier for the past 25 years. His family owns a marina/bar/restaurant so he has plenty of real life experiences to draw from. His favorite line: “You can’t make this stuff up.”
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