How I saw a U.F.O part 1
How I saw a UFO
Ahh, the beautiful Jodi G.—what fixes would I not get into to follow her.
In the Spring Semester of 1986, was teaching English at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, New York. The small campus sits at the tip of a peninsula surrounded by the water of Sheepshead Bay on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other where the waves come ashore on Manhattan Beach. The physical address is 2100 Oriental Boulevard—an ironic name as the oriental people were not a common sight in the neighborhood, and the only restaurant of note was Papa Leone’s where Italian languages was spoken as a matter of course.
The college was about 10 minutes’ bicycle ride from my parents’ apartment on Brighton 13-th Street where I made my temporary domicile while gestating the idea of moving to Honolulu.
At K.C.C./CUNY, I wasn’t much older than the students whom I was teaching and some of whom had difficulty believing at the beginning of the semester that I was actually their teacher. My having a deep tan with a raccoon-eyes effect from constant use of polarized glasses and that in the middle of January did not help my case. My deep tan was my only guerdon for having unsuccessfully tried to become a member of the United States Olympic Windsurfing Team after I spent six weeks at the training camp in Melbourne, Florida where Major Hall was developing a young, talented team. At 26, I was already an old man among the teenagers who made the team; but at least I gave it a shot.
At Kingsborough College, the students somehow got used to the idea that I was a teacher, and would greet me in the hallway with an appellation, “Yo, teach,” to which I responded by raising my hand with a palm opened outward and sometimes adding, “hey.”
At the end of that semester, a physical education instructor by the name of Richard Kamen was organizing a group of camp counselors to work at camp Equinunk located in Pennsylvania near a small town called Equinunk as well. The pay was about $250.00 per month plus room and board—not much. My other alternative for the summer was signing up as a volunteer actor in a play that the KCC’s Theater Department was going to produce. A cute Swedish girl who ran the project invited me to join, and I strongly considered it because of her; but then I found out from Richard Kamen that Jodi G. went to the camp for the first orientation, and making an assumption that she would be there, I signed up. It was still May.
When I came to the camp in June, Jodi was not there, and a found myself among a few Americans and many Europeans who came to work at the camp; the Europeans worked just for room and board and a chance to see a bit of America. The camp nurse was an Irish woman in her twenties—she had blue eyes and chestnut hair. Several of the counselors were from Liverpool, UK—they called themselves Scousers; one young woman was from Germany—she looked a lot like the girls in Wisconsin where I studied for and obtained my Master’s in English just a year before.
Equinunk was a Jewish camp—some of the American camp counselors as well as some of the campers came there for years. I liked a Jewish woman who bleached her hair blonde, but she ignored me completely.
Richard transported to the camp my windsurfing rig which I bought at a Wayler’s World’s Regatta in Islamorada Florida the previous winter. The camp had a small lake, so the winds were light—but it was enough to practice maneuvers, which I did in my free time, so as to keep the technique sharp. My dedication to my craft annoyed the lifeguard—a fat man of about 45 years of age who spent every summer at the camp since the 1960’s and who believed that he owned the lake. “Get that thing off my lake,” he would yell at me. He disliked my windsurfing board a lot, and he disliked me even more. Once he asked me about the parts of the board while I was rigging it, and being happy to oblige him, I explained.
The next morning, the universal joint—a part that connects the board to the sail—disappeared. “What’s the matter; why aren’t you out on the lake?” the fat man jeered at me.
I was forced to take up archery, which I practiced with the ferocity of a Zen master, and I also began to gather raspberries and blueberries that grow wild in great abundance in that part of the country. There is a special and unusual feeling that develops when a gatherer enters the bush and begins to gather the ripe berries; I can’t describe the difference in taste between the berries just off the bush and the sad captives that it is possible to buy in small pails in grocery stores.
Everyone at camp knew about my predicament, and no one was surprised that I was planning to break my contract early and to leave. When an argument about quitting arose once among the Europeans with whom I was sitting near the lake after work, one of them said to another, “Where would you rather be? here? or Honolulu?”—that ended the argument.
One day, as I was gathering berries near the lake, the Irish nurse asked me whether the part I was looking for had a yellow section; I replied in the affirmative, and she told me that something washed up on shore of the lake resembling what I described to her. I ran there and found my universal joint—so little is required for complete happiness. The part washed up because it was mostly plastic, and the action of the wind and current must have carried it out of the muck in about 10 days’ time. The lifeguard was very unhappy about this development when he saw me on the lake once again.
But this is a story about how I saw a UFO, and it’s about time that I got to that part of my narrative.