Did you know shrimp can HOP? And when they’re angry, they shoot like torpedoes out of the ocean and bop you on the head, as if to say, “This is MY water. Get out of MY water!” Well, after the Rockville Regatta this past Saturday, I know it’s true. I saw ‘em do it. Many times. I swear one of them even tried copping a feel.
The Rockville Regatta is actually a sail boat race, but most attendees are too busy doing jell-o shots to notice. The regatta has been going on for over 115 years, but it’s the party around the edges that usually makes the news. My group set off on our trip to the regatta at 8 AM. I may have been relatively sleepy, because I rarely see 8 AM on Saturdays. The drive to the marina was quick; the ride to Rockville was not. Once the boat was in the water, we had a 45-minute trek, and the captain was nice enough to tell me to “Hang on.” Evidently, three regattas prior, they’d gone over a wave. A girl had been tossed, resulting in her broken tailbone. And once we hit our first bump, I knew my captain wasn’t kidding around. I held on for dear life, but as I held on, I at least had time to admire the homes along the glowing, green marshes. (“So THIS is where the rich people live.”)
We couldn’t have asked for a better morning. The breeze was cool. The humidity had yet to reach rainforest proportions. There was a blue sky and some puffy, white clouds that would prove to be Godsends in the early afternoon sun. When we arrived at the Rockville Regatta, it was yet to be crowded. I imagined most of the party animals were still in bed, and my companions assured me, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” We anchored the boat next to a ghostly old shrimp ship. The shrimp deck was empty, and the ship resembled something you’d see half-sunk in an old pirate flick. I liked it; it set a nice tone, especially for an Ohio girl who still occasionally looks around Charleston and says, “I can’t believe I LIVE here.”When the boys said, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” they weren’t kidding. By 10 AM, the ocean was hopping as much as the damn shrimp. Guys wore Mardi Gras beads, searching for that special lady ready to bare her goods. Strangers tied their boats up to ours, creating a makeshift walkway that eventually reached from one side of the marsh to the other. Captain Jack Sparrow’s younger brother was there, as was a half-bottle of Jagermeister, majestically floating inside what appeared to be a giant, inflated white balloon.
There were negatives. Yes, I was half-deaf by noon, thanks to the gnarly 90s hip-hop, firing forth from mounted speakers on the boat to my left. Sure, when I went to meet up with my roommates on another boat, I was sucked in up to my knees by pluff mud (a Lowcountry term I believe means, “Say goodbye to your sandals”). And yet, I was never grumpy. I was never looking around, wondering when I could go home. Instead, I looked around, and again, it came to me: “I can’t believe I LIVE here.”
In Charleston, you wear less makeup because 1) it’ll wash off in the ocean at some point, and 2) everyone looks better under East Bay Street oil lamps. In Charleston, I spend Saturdays on boats, meeting new people while navigating the tumultuous waves and slippery spots from spilled sunscreen. I walk through pluff mud, and strangers ask, “Do you need a beer?” and invite me onboard. I see rainbows in the distance, radiating Roy G. Biv in the foreground of a navy blue storm cloud that never gets close enough to rain on our fun. In Charleston, I never stop saying, “I can’t believe I LIVE here.” I never stop feelin’ lucky.
Rockville Regatta was a party. It was a sail boat race. It was a social event. Overall, it was just a fine time. It was a break from a chaotic workweek. It was a reminder that no matter how bad things get, there’s still someone out there to make you laugh. It was a day to slow down, fight the shrimp torpedoes, and remember life is good, no matter what the politicians say. I’ll see you there next year, because for me, it’s official: Rockville Regatta, I heart you.