Sunday, April 10, 2011

Common Folk

I haven't done any frostbiting this winter, but I'm still on the fleet email list. Yesterday I received an email with the usual exhortations from our fleet captains to come out and race this weekend. They say the weather will be sunny... if it's not cloudy. The winds will be 5 knots... or maybe 10-15... or perhaps even 20. There might be showers... or maybe not. (Somehow I think these two dudes could have great careers as weather forecasters. They are never wrong!)

And they ended up their encouragement with this sentence, "Get out and enjoy the best sailing of the year before the common folk start crowding up the harbor once the water temperature cracks 50."

"Common folk"?

Are they accusing me of being "common folk" if I don't come out and race this weekend?

Fighting talk.

Or is it? What's wrong with being common folk?

I come from a family of common folk, working class types from the Midlands of England. I'm only two or three generations removed from farm laborers and domestic servants. I've always been proud to come from common folk. My political sympathies have always been, and still are, with the common folk.

And yet the implied jibe in that sentence still carries a sting.

Don't we all have a yearning to be a little "uncommon" in some way or other? To be something or do something that defines us as individuals, that makes us distinct from the herd, the common folk?

I've led a pretty conventional life in most ways. Was a good student in the 50's and 60's. Didn't join my contemporaries in protests or riots. (Though I did once shout some bad words at Harold Wilson's motorcade as he sped by.) Married a good woman in the 70's and stayed married to her. Worked for the same company for almost 30 years and earned a pension. (Those were the days, eh?) Very boring person really.

About the only unusual thing I've ever done is Laser sailing. I know it must be strange to choose to be a Laser sailor because many of the readers of this blog, most of whom are boaters themselves, abuse and ridicule me for being a Laser sailor. We Laser sailors sometimes feel it's a big deal that over 200,000 Lasers have been sold, but even if that means there are 200,000 Laser sailors out there, that's still only about 0.003% of the world population. We are very uncommon.

And then only a small proportion of those Laser sailors will choose to sail when the water temperature is in the low 30's and the air temperature is in the 20's and you have to chip the ice off your boat before you launch it. Those Laser frostbiters are very uncommon folk.

I used to be one of those very uncommon folk. And then there was the year I won the Ironman Trophy in my frostbite fleet for sailing more races than anyone else that winter. How strange is that possum? I was the uncommon of the uncommon of the uncommon that year.

So, yeah, I guess the fleet captains are right. This year I didn't frostbite. That makes me just one of the common folk.

Next winter it will be different. I will sail in the winter. I will be uncommon folk.

What about you? What do you do to be uncommon?


O Docker said...

I put a blank line at the beginning of every blog post.

Hardly anyone does that, so that's uncommon.

Of course, putting a blank line at the beginning of every blog post is something anyone could do. It's not an act that requires special skill, creativity, courage, or athletic prowess. It's just a blank line.

Most people simply don't see the need to do that and might even regard it as a waste of space. But, you were asking for things that we do to be uncommon, and since no one else has yet mentioned anything more remarkable than this, I thought I would point it out.

It doesn't really need to be a blank line, of course. It could be a particular word or even a group of characters that are not a word. That in itself would be as uncommon as leaving a blank line at the beginning of every post.

Pat said...

Before this comment thread heads somewhere odd, it might be useful to know whether the Laser Frostbiters describe themselves as merely exceptional folk, or perhaps as "doubly exceptional" or some other multiple. Also useful information would be checking on when they made their announcement, and whether it would have been long enough after a frostbiting session to eliminate the possibility of the posting being affected by residual symptoms of cold shock immersion or hypothermia.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

I race a 38-ft Laser. That's uncommon. That the craft is intended for cruising makes my behavior even more uncommon.

Chris said...

I don't want you to take this the wrong way, Tillerman, because I like your blog. But the thing that makes me uncommon is ... I read it.

Tillerman said...

You are so right Chris. So many people just come to my blog to see the picture of a jellyfish and then move on with out reading a word. It's most uncommon for anyone to actually read any of the nonsense I write. I have no illusions on that score.

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