One of my best friends in high school was Charlie. The other one was Mike. Charlie had an older brother named Perry. Perry was a carpenter. As were all the men in Charlie's family and soon after high school, maybe Charlie, too.
Perry bought a boat. It was an antique...er...classic ski boat. Wood and bright red paint and an old Ford flathead engine for motivation. It moved out good and sounded pretty tough, too. Unlike his '62 SS Impala, Perry didn't mind who drove the boat. Mainly because he realized he couldn't drive the boat and ski at the same time. When we went skiing with him, we launched the boat from a little ramp on the east side of the bay and drove the boat across the bay to the strand, just north of Imperial Beach. We would set out coolers and blankets and get out all the other essential gear and operate from there.
One particular Saturday, we set up as usual and got ready for the first round of skiing. Charlie drove the boat, Perry was on the ski, and Mike and I decorated the boat with our charming presence. Perry was good. He had one of those single skis and he could cut and lean and look impressive. Just as we were getting ready to take off, Perry told Charlie that there was a group of girls set up on the sand just north of us. He said he wanted Charlie to loop out and come around in a big curve so he could cut and slice right up to the beach and spray them. Then maybe we could get to know them. Grrrrreat plan.
Charlie headed out and got up to speed and Perry got up and planed for a bit. Then he went into his manuevers. The plan would have Perry on the outside of a southbound curve where he could lean way over then just as the boat straightened out, Perry would flip over to the other side and shoot his rooster tail at the girls as he raced to the other side of the wake.
Charlie got the plan but was just a tad inexperienced to pull off the curve. Geometry wasn't his strong suit. As he got into the curve he realized that he was too wide and would end up on the girl's blanket, boat and all, if he couldn't correct it...and quick. In order to get the turning power he needed, he had to let off the throttle just a hair, correct the steering, then he goosed the throttle again. And it worked, he came out of the curve running red hot parallel to the beach. The problem was that when he let off the throttle and changed the arc of the curve, it created a momentary slack in the tow rope...but when he bumped the throttle back up, it popped the rope and snatched Perry right out of his ski. Perry was parallel to the water, three feet in the air, but just for a second or two, because he hit the water and began rolling and skipping over the surface until he slowed enough to settle into the water...right in front of the girls.
As soon as we realized what had happened, Mike and I started yelling at Charlie to turn around...'cause he had just killed Perry. We raced up to where Perry was bobbing in the water. I jumped out just ahead of Mike and was surprised to find the water was only up to just above my knees...which meant that Perry was either buried in the sand or he was sitting on the bottom. Mike and I grabbed him and started to pull him out of the water. Perry immediately began struggling and fighting us. I had been around enough ship's parties to know that when someone gets knocked out, they sometimes come to thinking they are still in the fight. I was trying to explain to Perry that he was ok and we were just going to walk him down the beach to our blanket...he fought all the harder. At that point I became aware that Charlie was yelling at me, trying to tell me something. Since I wasn't making any progress getting Perry out of the water, I turned my full attention to Charlie. He pointed behind the boat...there was something in the water a little ways behind us. I waded over to it and picked up Perry's swimming trunks. I turned around laughing to tell Mike and saw three or four concerned young ladies coming down to the water to see if they could help.
I gave Perry his suit and he waded over behind the boat and redressed himself while Mike headed off the ladies. Perry was a little upset...mostly at Mike, Chuck and I for laughing our butts off. By the time we got home, Perry was laughing about it too...but I think that the approaching girls may have saved Charlie's life that day. Funny thing is...that's the last time we all went skiing together and that was more than forty years ago.