I once had a 15-year diversion. I like to call that time in my life a “diversion” now because it sounds mysterious. Of course, after fifteen years, it ran its course, but there were certain unfortunate events where blame was unfairly placed on me. You be the judge.
My “friend” had some issues with self esteem and felt the need to accumulate stuff. His stuff included bikes, cars, motorcycles, tractors, campers, dune buggies and at one time, a dump truck. Somewhere along the way he decided to expand his vast menagerie to water transportation and purchased his first speed boat. He and his friend were bargain hunting one Sunday morning and returned early in the afternoon, a little wobbly and grinning from ear to ear. Sitting in the driveway was a used speed boat and trailer. As the story goes, the bargaining was more difficult then expected, and lengthier by a case of beer, but cunning and the fine art of price haggling paid off. The decrepit old gal got an entire makeover and “Happy Daze” was christened. She got the workout of her life that summer.
I thought of purchasing a gold buttoned navy blue blazer and a white captain’s hat with gold braid for my friend, but I got the jaw drop on that idea. He settled for the understated elegance of jeans and a ratty tee-shirt. This proved to be the smarter choice because he spent a lot of time covered in grease from tinkering with a motor that just didn’t sound quite right. I wanted a second christening, renaming her “Dead in the Water”.
It was a warm sunny fall day when he decided it was time to put Happy Daze to bed for the winter. My friend’s idea of a cruise was usually a few G-force blasts from one end of the lake to the other, but after my effective bloviating and chastising, he agreed to bob occasionally. We strolled down memory lane while bobbing, reminiscing about his narrow escape from death when he crept under the boat cover and started the motor. A dust-up with Jeff, in a burning pile of leaves, prior to a Happy Daze excursion was finally moved to his funny list. (Susan, Jeff and I had long ago placed it top on ours.) The lake was deserted, and the day was memorable…….for another reason.
About six o’clock, it dawns on Captain Nemo that I couldn’t maneuver the trailer down the dirt road to the landing. It dawned on me that I had never driven the boat. Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer came to an abrupt and ugly end in the midst of screams and insults, his stupid assumption that I had driven a boat and something about my big fat ass. As I sat arms crossed and pouting, he gave me a crash course in navigation. His condescension irritated me, and looking back, I guess I should have listened more closely. I dropped a fuming Mr. Know-it-all off at the camp and blasted off to try to find the landing.
About fifty feet from shore, my confidence rose. By the time I was half-way down the lake, I was waving to people closing their camps for the winter. I passed the landing a couple of times, but never noticed because I was having such a good time by myself. Then I noticed a little stick figure jumping up and down waving like a fool, and realizing it was my own Secretary of the Navy, I took a hard right toward him. It all happened so fast…..the grinding of metal, the ear splitting snap of the prop, the sudden curve of the steering mechanism, the Captain’s horrified face……..
Soooo, I may have hit a small, unmarked, un-flagged, unmarked, unnoticeable, unmarked rock. He said I should have realized I was headed for trouble by his frantic waving and screaming. I said I couldn’t hear him because he just had to have that loud motor, and I didn’t hit anything, the boat just mysteriously fell apart. As he waded out fully clothed to take control of the situation, I noticed a crowd of stragglers forming. I waved and told them everything was fine, which of course was a lie. Several attempts to land the boat failed. Apparently, I had damaged some silly long pipe that somehow made the boat unable to travel in a straight line, and Captain Kangaroo, who should never have allowed me to drive in the first place, had to figure out how to get us on the trailer while maneuvering sideways.
Some people just can’t let things go. All winter long, I was scolded and unfairly blamed for what came to be known as “the incident”. My friend Susan was my only support and comfort through those trying times. She thought it was as funny as I did. The arrival of spring brought with it a new boat and a visit to the scene of the crime. Jeff and Captain Crunch dropped Susan and I off on a tiny island with our cooler, and disappeared for an hour or so, only to return with the prop blade I had sheared off from the badly designed steering whachamacallit. It sat on the fireplace mantle as a conversation piece for years. The raging debate goes on to this day, and I stand by my “it wasn’t my fault” defense. There are mitigating factors to be considered, not the least of which being the captain abandoning the helm. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.