MEMORIES...

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This reminds me of my days as an Air Force diver, many years ago. We were stationed in Hawaii, and the coral reefs and exotic fishes were breathtaking, or would have been if the planes pulling our oxygen lines weren't going so fast. Some days it was more like water skiing than diving. The gear was so heavy that we never broke the surface, but we raised such nice waves that the surfers began hanging around us. That was how I met Brian Wilson, as a matter of fact. Dennis was the real surfer, of course, but Brian would come out every once in a while to maintain his cred. One day when my cable had snapped--and that happened many, many times, on coral outcroppings or submerged posts or whatever: at that speed, you have very little time to manuever around obstacles, which one time included a squid, and you don't want to hear about that one, take my word for it--anyways, the cable had snapped and I was lying on my back in two feet of water, and Brian came charging out in those striped shorts of his, and stubbed his toe on my helmet. I don't know who was the more startled; him, because it had never entered his mind that he might trip over a deep-sea diver, or me, because--well, Brian Wilson! Now this was before the post- Smile period, so he hadn't ballooned to 300 pounds yet, but he was still a hefty guy, and when he made contact with that helmet, I felt it. My head was still ringing when when he pulled me upright so I could resume breathing, and continued to do so while we waited for the AF Diver Rescue Team to show up, because the helmet had special bolts on it that could only be loosened with a top-secret wrench, so that if we fell into enemy hands they couldn't take off our hats and ask us about troop strengths and whatnot. So the Rescue Team showed up--that was one bunch of busy guys, I'll tell you what--and got the helmet off, and I could see that Brian Wilson was talking to me, but I didn't have a clue what he was saying, my ears being all ringing and stuff, and the cumulative effect being kind of pleasant in a hallucinogenic way, but I did hear one of the Rescue Team shout "vibrations!" as he pointed at my head. "How does it feel?" Brian yelled. "Good!" I shouted back. Now I'm not saying that's where the whole idea came from, but I'm just sayin'. You know? Anyways, I was mustard out of the Air Force two months later for medical reasons, they discovered a hairline fracture right on my hairline--which is why I thought of the name "Crack Skull Bob", by the way, and I arrived in San Francisco a free man. I tried to find the City Lights Bookstore, but got lost. I did find Haight Street, though, and stopping in a drugstore-kind of place, I saw a skinny guy with thick glasses and a big Adam's apple on one of the stools at the soda fountain sketching away, and I said to myself, I'm going to do that one day, and I did.