2008 30 May

Hang on Tight and Smile

Author: Shawn Categories: Story Shelter

I kept trying to go with some friends for a bit of water-skiing fun on Lake Burton in Georgia. The weather kept being uncooperative. It was a very rainy summer. The few times we tried, the storms would chase us away.

Finally, a blitz of sunny days graced us and I knew chances would be slim for another chance. Except I didn’t water ski. Nope. I’ve skied in the past. I love it. But when given the choice, I opted for something new. I tubed.

I heard how fun it was and I couldn’t wait to experience a different way of being whipped across the water. Why hang onto the rope like an upright skinny stick when I could be drug like a sack of potatoes?

The blue and yellow tube was a triangle sort of shape with a cavity in the middle to sit on. Four handles hung around the front and back sides. I was told I could either sit in it or lie on it.

I thought about that for a few seconds. Have my legs smushed underneath me or hang them off the back. Hmmm. Considering the length of my legs, having them squished didn’t seem very appealing.

Besides, one good bump would send one of my knobby knees on a quick journey into my face. There would certainly be one good bump and definite dreadful pain. Decision made, I jumped into the water.

My accommodating captain pulled his speedy boat around and positioned the tube beside me. To say I was calm as a warm cucumber would be mighty misleading. Excited and nervous, yes, but dubious was my main emotion.

What if I couldn’t hang on? What if I fly up into the air, twist freakishly in the spray and end up in some bizzare excruciating position? What if I take flight into the trees, crumple into the branches and become the first mutilated human kite?

Strange things happen to me. I mean, how many people do you know who have run themselves over with their own car? Or who have been chased out of a park full of people by a giant psychotic goose? Well?

I have to prepare myself for the bizzare when trying something new. My smiling face appears confident and fearless. Inside, my mind carreens with scenes from some mutant circus causing paralyzing fear and resisting the urge to run away screaming with my arms flailing over my head.

I used to be fearless when I was young and fresh and hadn’t been subjected to countless anomalous accidents. Fortunately, I still have the child within and my love of adventure and admittedly, speed, wins out over my paranoia. I love things that go fast.

So, back to the story. After a few instructions and tips, I kind of awkwardly flung myself onto the tube, belly down, legs dangling behind me. Grabbing the two front handles, I wiggled around to get comfy. I looked up to my grinning friends, gave the thumbs up, and quickly grabbed onto the handle again before the jerk of the rope hit the tube.

Bang! Off we went. My chin rested on the front of the tube. Ripples of water bounced my head up and down. I felt like a life-size bobble head. As we picked up speed, I pulled myself up a bit so my eyeballs wouldn’t fall out and used my arms like shock absorbers. I forgot how much power surges through a rope behind a boat.

First turn and there grew a large beastly wave looming – giggling. Oh, this is it. I’m going to hit that toothy beast, be launched fifty feet into the air, spin around with my arms and legs spread like helicopter blades and land on the other side of town.

It could happen.

But, it didn’t. I caught some air, hanging on so tight I could see my knucklebones protruding through my skin, and landed with an ka-oomph. Bumpily I glided back and forth across the riffling water and boat wakes until I was nearly alongside the boat.

Suddenly, it was like the tube hit dry ground. My body uncontrollably slid forward and the lake swallowed me up. Until then, I’m proud to say, my hair was mostly dry.

I tread water until my friends returned with tube in tow. Was I okay, they asked. Dandy, I gurgled. Ready for more, they asked. More? Bring it on!

Apprehension retreated to its cave and I was a fearless child once again. Perma-smile was pasted on my face. My friends had them, too. I got braver, allowing myself to soar higher and higher as they turned the boat sharper and sharper. After my fourth watery dismount, my skinny little arms were shaky and begging for respite.

It was a blast. I recommend it if you haven’t tried it. No skill involved. Just hang on tight and smile. And if nothing weird happened to me – everyone else in the world is safe.

*First published in The Clayton Tribune

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