M. SCOTT MORRIS: I’m grieving in advance of oil onslaught

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

There’s a spot in Gulf Shores, Ala., where I passed a major milestone in life.
The beach town has been a family destination since my middle school days. A few years ago, I went to Sea & Suds with some friends, and ordered my usual: Raw oysters, steamed shrimp and fried crab claws off the appetizer menu.
The waitress then proceeded to explain how to make cocktail sauce out of ketchup, horseradish and Worcestershire sauce. I stopped her before she really got going.
“We know,” I said with a smile. “I’ve been coming here since before you were born.”
Man, it was shocking to say that for the first time, but it was true.
I’ve invested plenty of years and created many memories at the Alabama Gulf Coast. I’ve spent a few bucks, too, but I’m not complaining.
When the hullabaloo gets overwhelming at the Mighty Daily Journal, I close my eyes and picture white, sandy shores. It’s sad to say, but I’ve spent far more mental time at the beach than actual time.
Of course, you know my little slice of paradise could be in for a world of hurt. The BP, Halliburton and Transocean disaster in the Gulf of Mexico could plaster miles of coastline with crude oil.
It’s a slow-motion catastrophe. All folks can do in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida is wait to see what the damage will be.
Every now and then, I think maybe the coast will come out of this mess unscathed.
It’s possible.
Who knows?
But I’m pretty sure trouble’s on the way. A part of me would love to go for a visit now, so I can enjoy a last getaway before the gunk slams ashore.
The rental company we use has been sending e-mail updates, letting us know that the beaches remain pristine. They’ve waived the cancellation fees, and promised to refund our money if the oil makes landfall during our stay.
It’s a tempting offer, but I’m not making beach plans anytime soon. That has more to do with my allotments of spending cash and vacation days than it has to do with the spill.
Obviously, the Gulf Coast has taken its share of hits over the years. A few of my favorite hangouts in Gulf Shores have been blown from the face of the Earth, but you’ll always find a mixture of old survivors and new construction.
This is an unfamiliar threat, and no one knows exactly how bad it’s going to be.
I find myself grieving in advance of the onslaught. I’ve been thinking about the dolphins we saw on our last visit, and wondering how they’ll weather the new troubles. The stingrays have been on my mind, and all the birds.
I’ve spent a lot of time in and around Gulf Shores, but not nearly as much as I would have preferred. Every lottery ticket I’ve ever bought has come with the understanding that winnings will be used to buy more beach time.
Those dreams live on, and I’ll go back to the Alabama Gulf Coast one of these days. I hope I’m smiling when I get there.

M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal entertainment writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@djournal.com.