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Making Friends With The Neighbors, Part One

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I live by the beach. Whenever it's low tide, I chant my rounds up and down the shore. Our beach isn't popular for swimming — no soft sand, only endless dunes of broken seashells, which can easily puncture bare feet. It attracts only locals; dog walkers, shark tooth collectors, and a few fishermen.

Except in the coldest or stormiest weather, you'll see half a dozen guys, some as tanned as sun-dried tomatoes, parked there in folding chairs, with coolers full of light beer and bait, shoving PVC pipes into the "sand" to hold their fishing poles. These dedicated slayers of marine wildlife cast their lines out into the surf then sit back for hours, smoking and watching their poles for signs that some unfortunate living entity is trying to enjoy its last meal.

Today, the guys were only catching seaweed. One after another after another, I saw them reeling in bushels of saltwater salad they thought might be an entrée. I saw one guy trying to extricate his hopelessly entangled hooks from a gigantic mass of seaweed that had snagged on his line. He must have thought he had caught a marlin. Trying to be ultra-hilariously neighborly and clever, I said, "Good fishing today, if you're a vegetarian." He didn't laugh. I kept walking. Sometimes — wait a second, all the time — it's best to just concentrate on chanting Hare Krishna.