Nocturnal Dip Gone Awry

A few Bilbao cousins had, in the distant past, a penchant for over-imbibing.  One summer afternoon, a small band, along with a visiting friend, convened at the rear of the Johnson Ice Factory for drinks.   Their tippling and attendant bacchanalia continued well into the evening, past dinner, adjourning only with the quasi sari-sari store’s closing, everyone exceedingly inebriated.

Parting company, our home-bound group consisted of myself, a cousin, and the friend, who, dreadfully besotted, was mumbling incoherently and could barely walk.

The route home — a pathway strewn with fallen cocopalm limbs, fronds, and husks — seemed an imprudent choice in the dark of night, to say nothing of our condition,  so we opted for the beach instead.  Walking by the water’s edge, our trek was made easier by the wet sand firm under our feet.

Reaching a spot fronting our beach homes, all would’ve been well but for an impulsive, reckless play: Night Swimming.

It would invigorate us, we rationalized, and would surely rouse our friend back to some semblance of lucidity.

Our nocturnal dip could not have been more ill-advised.

No sooner had we plunged in that we lost sight of our friend who sunk like a rock.  The seriousness of the situation all too apparent, we quickly dove beneath the surface and, in the inky blackness, frantically groped the sandy bottom in search of him.  He was nowhere to be found!  Out of air we surfaced, and, seeing the panic in each other’s eyes, resumed our search with steely determination.   There was to be no drowning in Happy Valley that summer — it simply would be too ruinous of La Dolce Vita.

To our immense relief, this time around we found him and not a moment too soon.  Expeditiously pulling him to shore, we found that he was alright. Thankfully he had managed to hold his breath while submerged. And this was just as well, as CPR would have been the last thing we could’ve done with any proficiency.

Stretched out on the beach in a semi-conscious stupor, it took every ounce of our strength to get our very tall and exceedingly heavy friend upright.  Supporting him on each side, our necks disconcertingly locked under his armpits, we stood still for a moment catching our breath.  Our victory was short-lived however as his dead-weight pulled us such that we began tilting backwards, slightly at first, then angled even more until gravity tipped us into a free-fall!  “Oop-oop-oop-oop…!” we stammered as our hapless fall inexorably got underway.  In unison we hit the sand flat on our backs, our heads just making the waterline so as to splash seawater into our mouths that were open wide in riotous laughter. 

Repeating the arduous task, we eventually got him up the beach into a waiting tent.

The ‘big fella’ awoke the next morning recalling only the prior day’s immoderation and nothing of the near-tragedy.  Save for a hangover, he was none the worse for wear.

Needless to say, henceforth, we swam only during the day and nearly always sober.


4 Responses to “Nocturnal Dip Gone Awry”

  1. Who was the big fella who almost drowned? Was it Jorge? Or one of the Dalands?

  2. Gina:

    The ‘big fella’s’ anonymity was preserved so as not to tarnish his reputation (although reference to his physicality is a dead giveaway). The episode was compromising enough that the life-saving, assisting cousin was not identified either.

    With scant regard for my own exceedingly sullied repute (some argue it is beyond repristination), I plunged (no pun) into recounting this story because it happened and it needed to be told—that Providence chose life over death that night, turning what could’ve been an awful tragedy (one which would’ve haunted me all my life) into nothing more than a somber albeit somewhat risible annecdote.

    What the heck, I’ll whisper in your ear who they were, but you’ve got to promise not to tell 🙂 !

  3. How nice of you three to part in such a jovial mood. However, what you guys don’t remember, is that earlier there were four and that you three left without the fourth, who had passed-out on the adjacent bench. Who then, upon awaking, noticed that it got very quiet all of a sudden—everyone having left. Finding himself unable to walk, he crawled all the way home! And who, upon coming within 50 yards of the tent, found one of his fellow ‘confederates’ lying unconscious on the beach. The slumbering ‘confederate’ was none other than the ‘big fella’ you speak of! You and that unnamed cousin dropped him off quite short of the mark. So this ‘fourth fella’ crawled up to the ‘big fella’, shook him a bit, getting him conscious enough to get up on all fours and crawl alongside him the remaining distance to the tent. Boy, I still remember how much my knees hurt that next day! No surprise of course since it was all the way from Johnson’s to the tent on all fours! By the way, thanks for leaving me behind guys… I said “I’ll lay down and shut my eyes for a while” and not “I’m tired and I’ll go home ahead of you guys”. I guess with the amount of alcohol that was consumed, one gets temporarily deaf.

  4. Chuck:

    So sorry ole’ chap, but the truth is that we were completely unaware of you asleep on the bench; we wouldn’t have left you or anyone else behind.

    Now I’m convinced, more than ever, that Providence had a hand in this.

    We did park the ‘big fella’ inside the tent. In fact, we wanted to give him a change of clothes but couldn’t find his stuff. What we ought to have done, in hindsight, is zipped-up the tent… but hadn’t done so. At some point the ‘big fella’ must’ve gotten up and out on his own accord then passed-out somewhere on the beach. Had you not come upon him, he well might have ended back in the water and drowned! [ In the condition he was in, it isn’t a stretch to imagine him stumbling or rolling down the sloping beach to water.] Had you not been unwittingly left behind, you wouldn’t have been there to escort him safely back to the tent.

    The way I see it now, all told, there were three life-saving cousins that night.

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