As May is coming to a close and Memorial Day is just around the corner, we start to get a little excited about summer. I still remember when I was a kid and counting the days to the end of school. This was before summer jobs and other responsibilities. Summer was just spent having fun, playing, and getting into trouble. Lots of long bike rides through the Kansas wheat fields and playing outside.
Summer vacations were usually to Georgia, but by some very different routes. The vacation was the journey, not the destination. We loved swimming at the hotel pools and at the beach. This was about the only time my family did any kind of water related activity… other than playing in the sprinkler in the back yard. Kansas is a long way from the beach and there are not many lakes around, either.
So… I am not much of a water sports person. My first trip to California to see my wife’s parents was one I will always remember. Not so much the meeting of the family, but the trip to the lake. My first… and only… attempt at water skiing. How hard can this be? You hang on to the rope, stand up, and the boat pulls you across the water. Even Goofy can do it. For me, it was really more being drug behind the boat with my body bouncing off the water and the skis somewhere in the lake behind me.
I would get instructions from the folks in the boat, but they never really seamed to work out. I almost got up on the skis a few times, but never really got very far. Well, that isn’t technically true. I had this thing about not letting go of the rope. Even after I fell. After being drug behind the boat on my belly, bouncing off the water for what seemed like miles but was actually more like 40 or 50 feet, someone finally said, “It’s o.k. to let go of the rope when you fall. We’ll come back and get you.” But I still continued to hang on to the rope and take my beating.
After several attempts and being completely exhausted and bruised up from the attempt at skiing, I decided to settle for inner tubing. That is much easier and more relaxing. So I set out on the tube, being pulled by the boat around the lake. Ahhh… this is more like it. I’m enjoying this and getting pretty decent at this. We are moving along at a pretty good pace and I’m crossing over the wake and catching some air. After a few minutes I notice that my arms do not have as wide a grip on the tube as they did when we started. That grip is gradually getting smaller and smaller as the tube is running out of air. The boat is still going fast and by this time the people in the boat are talking and not really paying much attention to me. Before long, I’m back to bouncing off the top of the water, hugging what is left of the tube. At least this time I have the remains of the tube to cushion myself as I continue to bounce. I refer back to above and I still had difficulty with the concept of letting go of the rope. So I continue bouncing off the water and realizing just how hard and painful the water can be. Finally someone notices and, again, reminds me that it’s o.k. to let go of the rope.
Fast forward a few years and now I’m back out on the water. New lake. New boat. Just our family and some friends at a lake house. Jet skis!!! Finally, something I can sit on and not have to bounce across the water on. I went out with Elliot and we were having a great time. This is more like it. At about the farthest point from the dock we have been, the jet ski dies. Fuel gage still shows plenty of fuel. After several desperate attempts to restart the blasted thing, I made the decision to swim it in. Naturally we were fairly far away from the dock and nobody was really watching that much. Elliot was not a swimmer at the time, so he sat on the jet ski as I slowly and painfully swam and drug the jet ski back to the dock. Of course, by the time someone realized I was in trouble and they got the boat in the water to come rescue me, I was pretty much all the way back to the dock. I slept really, really well that night.
So… as summer approaches and the weather warms up, you may find me on the beach or sitting by the water. You may even find me in a pool somewhere, but you will likely not find me out on the lake attempting any kind of water sports. It’s just safer for everyone.