Friday, January 30, 2009

Hopefully it Bears Repeating

When life gets tough [yes, I did have another staff meeting today, thanks], I tend to turn to my "Writing World" for comic relief. I was cleaning up some files when I came across an old story. I think I shared it on my first blog, which has long since evaporated. So I'm taking a chance and sharing it again.

Weirdly enough, the whole thing still makes me laugh.

I remember like it happened yesterday. Probably because he won’t let me forget.

I was 17 and my boyfriend of six months was a rugged, outdoorsy guy who hunted and fished. A lot. I’d wondered if that love of the outdoors had anything to do with 3 sisters and an Air Force pilot Dad often TDY. The woods probably looked good to a guy surrounded by that many X chromosomes. I grew up in a family which believed guns were something other people had and we were never to touch…even if we all knew where Dad kept the small pistol he’d inherited. My family did, however, fish. It wasn’t my fondest hobby, nor was an outdoor adventure my first choice for a date. But you know how it is when a girl idolizes her boyfriend.

One day boyfriend Scott decided we'd take his Dad's jon boat for a ride on the Wateree River. Putting in under one of the bridges off a highway, we peacefully drifted downstream, away from the cacophony of traffic. As birds sang cheerfully, Scott began rattling off a list of instructions which wasn’t the norm for our dates. But hey, we were going into territory unfamiliar to me and he was the expert. I was just grateful I wasn’t expected to bait any hooks.

First he asked if I could swim. Sure. Okay, so I held back the part where drowning was easier given my less than Olympic caliber technique. He reminded me how swift the current was, something easily confirmed as a tree shot past the boat at full tilt. Scott advised should I fall overboard to just go with the flow until he caught up.


Undeterred by my lack of enthusiasm, Scott continued. The river was full of submerged trees which tended to bob up and down. Visible… invisible….uh-oh, boat overturned. I had to be prepared, at a moment's notice, to either hold on for dear life or bail. I also needed to keep my eyes open if we floated along the river's edge while avoiding peek-a-boo trees. For branches? Oh no. Evidently swamp dwelling snakes enjoy free falling and boat rides. If that happened, I was to remain still until he handled the situation. I figured paralyzed with fear would dramatically slow my movements.

Scott commented that when we stopped onshore for our picnic [who had an appetite now?] I should remember the wild boars. Anti-social piggies, they might find our picnicking an invasion, at which point they'd chase us into the river. Yeah, and probably eat our lunch. Scott inquired if he’d mentioned the chance of encountering gators, which I could neither out sprint nor out swim. My best bet appeared to be either running along the shoreline, as gators aren’t good at cross country, or letting them and the pigs divvy me up for lunch. He added that gators in the river also looked like submerged logs, so any temptation to grab for driftwood should be avoided.

As if this wasn't enough, my final instruction was to comply on command. NO QUESTIONS ASKED! My Dad would’ve declared that the oldest guy trick in the book. I, on the other hand, floating down a hazard filled waterway where I seemed to be fair game, agreed wholeheartedly.

Scott cranked up the motor, a sound best described as an F-16 jet engine mounted on a tin can. At 6 ft. tall he was built like a grizzly, while my 5’1” frame weighed 100 lbs. soaking wet. [Then, not now. Sigh.] Off we went, him steering in back, me sightseeing up front. Literally. Between me being a lightweight and the inability to move fast, the boat wouldn’t plane out. So I sat, about a foot above the water, as he pointed out things of interest. Or so I thought. The noise was so loud, even looking at him, I couldn’t lip read for the vibrations. We settled on a system where he yelled my name, I‘d look back, then try to figure out what he was pointing at…and why.

After 30 minutes, I’d relaxed enough to loosen my white knuckle death grip on the boat‘s edge. That’s when Scott suddenly yelled, "DUCK!" With lightning fast reflexes, I assumed the duck and cover position taught to school children during tornado drills. Nose on knees, arms shielding my head, I was fairly proud of my quick response. I did wonder, however, why I was hiding. We were in the middle of the river, nowhere near jumping snakes. My eyes darted about for dancing logs, gators disguised as logs or hogs swimming for the boat. Nothing. And then I heard it.

Maniacal laughter.

Slowly, I pried one arm away from my head and snuck a covert look backwards. I found Scott laughing so hard tears streamed down his face. And he was pointing. As my eyes crept up his arm, there at the end of his finger a tiny speck grew until the world’s slowest duck flew past. As my arms, along with my ego, slid south, I merely nodded, as if Daffy was fascinating. Scott laughed all the way back to the landing. And a couple of times on the way home…for reasons I didn’t want to entertain.

And yet, I married him. And he's still here. But to this day, if someone suddenly says “duck” he looks at me and cracks up. He's told the story a zillion times over the years and I’ve learned two things. You can be the butt of a joke and survive. And men may forget where they leave their keys, but they never forget funny stories when the wife is the punch line.

But that's okay. It took a while, but I finally got a story to tell on him. Usually just after he finishes the duck story. Remind me and one day I’ll tell you about the Bear who roared….moo.


Susan said...

ROFL!! That IS funny---I love the way you set it up with all the dangers; I fell for it too!

Your story reminded me of a snowy walk that my husband and I had together soon after we'd met---it was just a walk, but anytime he suddenly takes my hand while we're walking, it takes me back to that day.

I can't WAIT to hear the bear story!

the broken down barman said...

magic!!!that was a brilliant story.
i was thinking - fer fuck sake that sounds like a scary way to travel!!! didnt know usa was that dangerous!!!!
i'd have fallen for it too!!!
if i'd played that prank i wouldbe telling everyone till the day i died, and then probabblyy getting it on my head stone.


Dave King said...

So all's well that ends well! Great story well told.

Poetikat said...

Clever. I particularly like the where she turns the tables at the end.


the broken down barman said...

have a gander at this guy. funny funny funny

hope said...

Kat, I just realized I didn't make one thing clear..thanks for reminding me!

The story is TRUE...the 17 year old was me. :)