Opinion: Finding Meaning


The Meaning of Partners

The Beautiful Wife and I went to a fun event the other day. It was a funeral, actually, but more a celebration of a different kind of guy. Sui generis, in Latin, a condition that seems to flourish in Laguna. This guy was extra unique due to his Dutch ancestry. Wooden shoes aside, there is that saying, “If you’re not Dutch, you’re not much.” This guy was a lot.
Paul and Shirley Weenig brought their brood to Laguna in the mid-seventies and the kids grew up here attending our schools, excelling in sports. Some are still in town. Paul was in the insurance business. Shirley was a noted schoolteacher. He was a genial sort, liked people, liked being with people. He just didn’t feel a need to conform the way most of us do.

You couldn’t call him a non-conformist. To be a non-conformist you have to recognize conformity. Paul didn’t have those sensors. He heard distant drums and found his own path. As an example, he enjoyed sports events and concerts but skipped the bother of making reservations. He just showed up at the event, even if sold-out, and as he greeted people would inquire if they had extra tickets. He always got in, usually at a reduced price, and met nice people along the way.

He could seem stubborn as a rock, but not really. To be stubborn you have to resist some influence and Paul just didn’t feel it. Didn’t have those sensors either. He went his way; it wasn’t like the poem where two roads divided in a yellow wood and he took the one less traveled by. Paul saw roads others didn’t, lots of roads. He was a free spirit; it was futile to put pressure on him to arrive at meetings on time. He was too relaxed for that. He’d arrive in his own time, happy to have you cover for him. Paul liked food. A trip to Solvang didn’t mean a visit to a bakery, it meant going to all the bakeries. He was a big guy, partly because of the pastries, but he had a big heart too.

Paul was also a Scoutmaster, but not in the conventional way. He treated the boys as adults. On one trip he felt too drowsy to safely drive a van of Scouts. “Can you drive?” he asked one of the boys. “Sure,” the boy said. So, the boy drove while Paul slept and all went well. Afterwards, when word got out, the moms were as angry as rabid wolfs. The boy was only 14 years old. Paul was nonplussed. “Nothing happened, everyone’s fine,” he insisted.
The wife of Paul’s youth, Shirley, was an important influence. She was his north star and loyal partner, understanding and tolerant. Shirley died some years ago and it was a sign of her influence that the children continued to do well. But Paul had a hard time without her; he had his struggles. There was a big posterity at the funeral service but the tears were tears of happiness. Paul was back with his life partner, his struggles finished. There’s meaning in that.

Skip fell in love with Laguna on a ‘50s surfing trip. He’s a student of Laguna history and the author of “Loving Laguna: A Local’s Guide to Laguna Beach”. Email: [email protected]

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  1. Our family were lucky enough to be friends with the Weenigs. I think we met them in 1974. I was sick and here came Shirley with a big pot of Chicken, Noodle Soup with Dumplings. She was known for her cooking. Paul loved kids. He was the best Scoutmaster you could find. He took his boys and any other boys that were around camping, trips to Lake Powell, the 50 mile hikes to Mt. Whitney, and Catalina. He helped the boys get their Wilderness, Camping and Hiking Merit Badges. He helped those boys who didn’t have Dad’s build their Pinewood Derby cars. Paul was truly a blessing to so many.


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