Today, I was not a butthead.
But, I probably should have been.
I was down at the boat again, doing this week's chores (do they never end?). A beautiful, late spring day.
The birds were shining. The sun was singing.
June was playing something of the coquette, teasing with just a hint of the warmth she can show when she's in a better mood.
For me, it was enough, though. I was in shorts and sandals as I scrubbed down the cockpit.
Then, a flash of sail between the rows of tethered boats.
Not the usual stately march of a keelboat headed out to do battle.
This had the quick stops and starts of a butterfly - a light dinghy was being tossed about by the unsettled puffs that were playing through the alleys and avenues of boats.
A sixteen year old kid was marauding the marina in a tiny sailboat, learning the ways of tiller and sheet. He had some of the moves down, and was showboating for whoever might be watching.
But puffs were new to him. He'd yet to learn about bearing off in the lulls. And he seemed a bit too surprised by what overtook him after a lull. I had once been a marauder of marinas.
And then I noticed. No lifejacket.
He was wearing just shorts and tee shirt.
I thought about the warm sun and the cold water. I thought about the puffs. A year ago, I wouldn't have given it much thought beyond that.
But my thoughts immediately went to Carol Annes's friend, a much more experienced sailor than the kid in the dinghy, who, for reasons no one will ever know, disappeared into waters probably no colder than these.
What to do? Should I chase after this kid I did not know and yell across the water for him to put on a lifejacket?
What are the odds he would have listened? What are the odds he'd think I was a total butthead? What are the odds that other adults in the marina would have thought me a total butthead?
In the end, I did what most of us do in situations like this. I just let it go. One of the worst crimes you can commit today is to be an uncool butthead.
But the moment stayed in my head and wouldn't go away. It stirred the old questions of personal responsibility.
To whom are we responsible? Ourselves? Our community? Our god?
When I was growing up in the '60s and '70s, these questions were the focus of much public debate. I've watched all of that gradually slide into the 'me generation'. It seems that today most of us have all that we can do just getting through the day keeping the wolves from our own door without worrying about what's happening out in the forest.
So, was I a bigger butthead for not being a butthead?
What would you have done?