JOYCE HOFFMAN’S BRA
My boss, Buddy Rollins, of Buddy’s Sign Service, sold Christmas trees every year at an otherwise empty lot next to Master’s Automotive, right on Mission Avenue (U.S. Highway 101) in Oceanside, California.
Master’s Automotive, or, as we, in my family, referred to it, Mac’s Garage. Mac’s was where my father worked all day on Sundays, Tuesday and Thursday evenings after his regular job. It’s not like my dad and I hung out during the two seasons I untied bundles of trees, cut a little off the bottom, set them up on wooden supports, sold trees, and tied trees onto cars.
I enjoyed the selling of the trees the most. I had received some experience helping out at the lot set up by my Boy Scout Troop (724, Fallbrook, California). At that time, I thought the whole place was like a clean, moveable, and fake almost-Disney Christmas woods. I could easily imagine background music from the March of the Tin Soldiers. I could fully visualize the cute girls who occasionally came in frolicking with me in the big military-issue (originally) tent; the little post-Mouseketeer, pre-Beach Party Annette Funicellos all giggly and…
Hey, I was, like, eleven to, maybe 13.
But now, on this lot, I was eighteen, then nineteen. I had a girlfriend, Trish, a real surfer girl- blond hair, not afraid of and irritated by the sand as Annette had been rumored to have been.
And, in 1970, my second season on Buddy’s lot, Trish worked a few shifts with me. That is, she sold lots of trees, and kept me busy loading and tying, and holding several for her customers to decide between. “What do you think?” they’d ask. They’d ask her.
“Erwin, could you load this please?” Sure.
So it was that I got to carry a tree to Joyce Hoffman’s VW bus, two surfboards on top. Joyce Hoffman, the famous surfer, world champion, everything champion, the first woman to surf the Banzai Pipeline, the only surfer to be named “Person of the Year” by the Los Angeles Times, the first woman to be (later) be inducted into the Surfer’s Hall of Fame.
Blonde, fit, she had competed in a male-dominated sport and conquered. “Hey,” I wanted to say, “I surf. I have a VW bus. I, I surf, too.” I didn’t. I did say something like, “Joyce Hoffman,” to which she responded with something like a polite, casual, “Uh huh.”
It seemed just knowing who she was would have been enough to prove I was a surfer.
Then she opened the side door. There, on the bed, was a bra. Nothing else. “Um.” I turned around quickly, politely, adjusting the tree a bit. When I turned back, the bra was gone. Joyce looked only slightly less casual, arms kind of crossed.
Near miss. In 1976, living in Encinitas, I was painting most weekends for Two-Coat Charlie Barnett. I had actually gone back to work for the Navy Public Works in San Diego. Charlie wanted me to call in sick a couple of days to help out him and his brother, Olie, on a job in Leucadia, near Moonlight Beach. An added incentive was that the job was for a famous woman surfer, Joyce, and her husband.
I really couldn’t, and I didn’t. It turned out that the job involved bleaching and stripping real wood paneling, and somewhere in the process, Olie, who regularly sprayed lacquer without a respirator, got ill enough to have to be rushed to the hospital, and then stayed there a couple of days. No smoking, either.
Well. Missed opportunities. Had I worked the job at Joyce’s house, I could have said, waiting for the ambulance, probably in an only slightly chemically-altered state, “Hey, I once loaded a Christmas tree in your VW bus, and…” chuckle, chuckle, end of this imagined scenario.
Other than Joyce Hoffman might have said, giving me one more, slightly skeptical check-out, “Uh huh.” If she’d kind of crossed her arms, I’d have known she remembered.