Sep 2, 2005


I have decided to be a surfer.  No, not the kind that sits at a computer all day and vicariously wanders the world.  I mean a hang-ten, narly, hey-dude, get on a surfboard and get into the waves surfer. 

I went to Westport, Washington, and enquired at "The Surf Shop" how to engage the services of a surfing tutor.  I was given a number, then I called to make arrangements, and planned to meet my instructor the next morning at 9 am.  Now I was a bit nervous, not only is this a new thing for me, but the last time I got lessons did not work out so well; I was trying to learn to snowboard so that I could spend more time with my kids.  I took some lessons at White Pass, Washington, and spent 2 hours with 16 year-old "Kyle".  He was a nice enough kid, but it was difficult, to say the least, for this scrawny kid, who just got his first pimple, to tell a 44 year-old, 6'3, 225-pound crusty cop anything.  I shouldn't be too harsh... Kyle got me carving down the mountain, although I blew out my knee (not to worry, all the broken cartilage was surgically removed).

So, there I was at The Surf Shop when a 50 year-old, 6'4, 270-pound ex-hippy looking-dude pulls up in an olive green Malibu convertible.  He came right up to me, shook my hand and said, "I'm Barry."  He helped me get a rental surf board (the foam-topped kind that tells everyone you are a clueless rookie), and told me to meet him at the beach.  I went out, thinking that I would be doing CPR on this guy if he tried anything strenous, and I have a bad record on CPR... 0 for 3.

Well, he wasn't going to surf, just tell me how.  We went to a surfing spot and I was starting to get a bit nervous; I did not have a clue what I was doing, and I couldn't even intimidate my instructor.  So you can imagine my relief when I arrived and saw the surfing spot; no, it's not that there was no one there, it's just that most of them had a foam-topped board just like me, and they were all splashing around just like I would be doing in about 10 minutes. 

Long story short:  Barry spent two hours probably wanting to get out and play, but he did impart some surfing tricks to this old dog.  Now my kids are both into surfing (they both like snowboarding better, though, but I'm working on it).



On St. Patrick’s Day there was bedlam in our fair city.  The Narcotics guys were trying to buy some drugs from a dealer and the whole thing went bad.  The dealer took out a .40 caliber handgun and started shooting at officers who were trying to arrest him.  Lucky for the officers the guy was no Buffalo Bill, and no one was hurt (except a couple of Ford Crown Vic’s now had 40 caliber holes in them).  A car chase ensued where officers reported that they were in a pursuit, with the suspect shooting at them; of course all the while trying not to sound like screaming school girls over the radio. 


I was sitting at my desk at the time, and heard the officer on the radio sounding a lot like Shirley Temple (hey, I’m not saying I would have sounded a whole lot better in the same situation... but I would have tried for at least a Marsha Brady squeal.)  I ran to my detective car, jumped in, and doing my best Marsha Brady, yelled into the radio that I was en route.  I joined the train of police cars, which ended up with the guy jumping out of the car at a local convenience store.  I guess “convenience” to the bad guy meant that there was someone convenient whom he could take hostage to hold the cops at bay. 


I jumped out of my car and grabbed an AR-15 from a Sergeant’s car (being the SWAT sniper team leader lets you do that), then belly crawled to a gas pump about 25 feet from the front door.  I then thought that if I could read the warning labels of the cigarettes that the armed guy was now smoking while pointing his gun at me, perhaps I was too close.  So I slithered back to about 60 feet away, behind a patrol car.  It was then that the SWAT team leader told me that he was going tocall me on my cell phone to get a briefing on the situation.  A moment later I heard my cell phone beeping, lying next to the gas pump at 25 feet from the door.  Another moment later my wife called me, because that special “Mamba” tune (indicating a call from her) started playing on my cell phone.  The uniform cop I was next to turned to me, smiled and said;

“Cool ring; too bad answering it will probably get you shot.” 

I decided to go ahead and let my voice mail get it.  A few minutes after that the SWAT Team arrived, I was given my sniper rifle, and deployed with another sniper back out on the street.  For about two hours the Hostage Negotiators talked to the bad guy, telling him that it’s ok, everyone takes a hostage now and then, if he gives up within the next ten minutes he’s automatically qualified for a chance at a free tattoo, and did he know that prisons now serve 31 flavors of ice cream? 


I turned and looked at my partner Joe (we call him “Doc”), who was dressed in a camouflaged outfit, boonie hat and cool tactical harness; looking every bit the role of SWAT sniper.  I then looked at myself, holding a similar sniper rifle; however I was dressed in tasseled loafers, forest green corduroys, a white Van Heusen dress shirt with green (St Pattie’s Day, remember?) tie and my lucky buffalo nickel tie clasp.  I turned to Doc and said, “You think I could loosen my tie now?”  I don’t blame him for rolling his eyes at me; I wouldn’t want to be seen with the “SWAT Geek” either. 

Well, everything turned out alright; my white shirt washed up ok, I got my phone back, my wife’s call was not important, and the bad guy is now peacefully enjoying “Rocky Road” at the State Penitentiary.  Most importantly, the local newspaper did NOT get a photograph of the best dressed sniper... all is well.