My sisters visited last week, bringing carloads of children to the glorious murk of Florida's East Coast. Wherever two or more sisters (we had four) are gathered in the Petralia name, there's invariably some sort of trip down memory lane, so we pulled out all the stops to attend a gala marching band event at Palm Bay High School, drive the kids to Del's Freeze (where legend has it the attendants spit in the soft serv) in a sweaty old bus, fish off the causeway at midnight, and grind beach sand into every recognizable orifice our babies' bodies had to offer.
Now we're all mature, so we refused to do a few things from our past, like drink Natural Light from flimsy plastic cups on the side of the highway, squirt beer out of bathtub kegs while our friends play poker in the dining room clothesless, and puke unidentifiable substances onto our mother's driveway. Another side effect of having lived 25 years past high school (some of us, anyway) is that now when we go to the beach, we aren't just crazy little kids running around with half a bottle of Sun-In on our heads - we have developed social consciences that don't quit.
So yeah, you see that ray in the picture that apparently represents the theme of today's post? Well, we saw one that looks nothing like it at Cocoa Beach last week. A fisherman hooked one - a bigger, really magnificent one - accidentally ('cause no one wants to hook a ray. I'm not even sure the fake scallops people make from them taste good and besides who has a cookie cutter that small, or that sharp?) so Eileen put her baby down to help the guy release the poor bugger. She was serious about getting that ray back into the water. Okay, so her intentions were grand, but the surf rod she held the ray's tail down with was a bit ineffective, allowing the tail to flip up a couple of times, which was frankly kind of scary to the salty dog messing around on the mouth end. The guy - he was wearing one of those t-shirts with the sleeves cut off, I think it was teal, which frankly scared me beyond my level of comfort - went to get a set of pliers - good idea. When he came back, he showed Eileen where to hold the tail down, then started sawing away at the tail with his knife. The crowd that had assembled around the ray to admire it and wish it good luck emitted a collective gasp and backed away almost instantly - we couldn't believe it.