Lake Lesson #32- Never Kayak in a Kaftan

I knew something was up Saturday when we arrived at Herrington and Frank insisted that he go get the cart. At the lake, you have to own some sort of cart, wagon, or other conveyance to transport the beer, ice, sewing machine, Sno-Cone Maker, and whatever else you decide you need to survive for 48 hours on the water. So, anyway, since Frank hurt his ankle, I have been the cart fetcher (which is better than being a fart catcher). But, he insisted that he get the cart and lead the way to the boat. We passed D on the walkway, D is one half of a gay couple who loves Texas Hold 'Em, NASCAR, bass fishing, and have been together for thirty-plus years. He said “Happy Birthday.” How did he know my birthday was coming up? Hhhmmm...

At our boat, I stepped onto the deck and realized that it was all set up—the striped cushions were on the chairs, the orange place mats were on the table, the towels were on the wicker shelf. I asked M, who sometimes out of pure sweetness opens up our boat for us, if he was responsible. No. Hhhmmm...

Suddenly, folks began swarming toward our end of the dock for no apparent reason. Triple Hhhmmm...

I turned the key and stepped inside. A bright blue kayak covered in bows and balloons was taking up the entirety of our living room. Frank was grinning from ear to ear. Bystanders were waiting for me to squeal. I just stared...stunned. After convincing me he was working late, my stealthy husband had sneaked down the night before, lugged a kayak all the way to our end slip, and arranged it just so. Sweet, definitely.  Insane, possibly. The most physically-challenging activities I take place in are roller skating, bar hopping, tap dancing, and ­sex. I am only radical in my thoughts and extreme in my emotions. I know that kayaking is not like skydiving or rock climbing, but the same type of people that love those things love kayaking, as well. I am not normally one of those people.

So, why in the world would he buy me a kayak? Simple—because I asked for one. Why on earth did I ask for a kayak? Because each morning, when I'm manning the turtle buffet, this lovely older man glides by in his kayak looking so sage and serene that I always think, “I need me some of that, and obviously you get that by getting one of those.” And, now, I had one.

What the hell was I going to do with it? Learn to kayak. Like many, I hate to be watched while trying new things. To make matters worse, last Saturday, everyone, their brother, and their gynecologist was down visiting. But, I was determined to prove to Frank, and more importantly to myself, that I loved my birthday present. So, I climbed in and, with the hordes gawking, took off across the lake. Just when I was starting to enjoy myself, I heard a splash. With great care not to capsize, I looked over my shoulder. Rufus, our lab/hell hound hybrid was closing in quick. Holy Shit! Nothing can ruin your first kayak trip like a drowned dog. I somehow managed to coax him out on the bank on the other side, let him rest, and then lead him across to the ladder where I could shove him back to safety. Normally, this misadventure might have been enough to dissuade me from ever picking up the paddles again, but after a couple dozen of shots of liquid courage with lime, I decided on a do-over.

By now, I'd changed out of my bathing suit and into a full-length leopard print kaftan. I climbed in the boat. I drifted out into water. I turned to find the cooler compartment. And, I went headlong into the lake, flipping the kayak over on top of me. The excess fabric soaked up what felt like fifty gallons of liquid. The kayak took on another fifty. I swam back, kayak in tow, sputtering and spent, to the same ladder where I hoisted up the hound earlier. Laughter echoed from the floating masses. I learned Lake Lesson #32—Never Kayak in a Kaftan.

The next day, I awoke with determination burning in my stomach (or maybe it was just acid from the former day’s festivities). Anyway, I decided I would not be beaten by a piece of molded plastic. I dressed appropriately, wore a life jacket, packed bottled water, and set out down the S-turns. An hour later, I returned triumphant. I even felt a little sage and serene. I'm looking forward to kayaking again this weekend. And, I have decided to name her, “Cleodora.”


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