Sunday, November 28

You Didn't get to Drive the Boat

Over the last few days some attention has been drawn to this story I put up on facebook so I decided to bring it over here. I need to put it in a safe place, plus I just must share as it is quite a little giggle of a story. Enjoy!

As I am quite fond of stories, I decided to document a tale that has become the stuff of comical interfamilial history. Of any who witnessed the following brief events, when retold, none can forgo the overwhelming urge to smile and giggle to one’s self at my expense.

In the summer of 2006 the circumference of my center torso had expanded to include the imposing protrusion of a very active watermelon with legs that liked nothing better than to kick me repeatedly in the ribs. Stretch marks graced the sides of my once slender hips. My feet and hands swelled with the excess fluid of first time pregnancy in humidity hell. My parents traveled from the “Rocky Mountain State” to the “Everything is Bigger State,” where my husband and I were impatiently residing. Hoping to catch the birth of the watermelon, my parents planned a two week “no pressure” visit.

In our desire to fill up the baby-wait, we attempted to keep ourselves busy. We planned various activities; swimming in the gulf, movies, dinners, all while everyone attempted to desist looking at the calendar, and clock, while simultaneously avoiding asking any prodding questions like “how are you feeling?” or “have you felt anything interesting today?” On a fine and tirelessly infernal day, my parents and I took an outing to Port O’Connor. Bound towards the beach, it was a day to cool off. I bobbled like a buoy in the endless waist-deep and bath-warm ocean water, and tried not to think about sharks. Sea life aside, being weightless and buoyant was a welcome treat. After an hour or so Dad got stung by a jelly fish and that brought an end to the beach trip. We hopped in the car and ventured over to the station a few miles away to get the official tour from my hubby Nate. Wanting to be the ever impressive Coastie crew, the “guys” set out to give us a spin on the 47 ̶ a medium sized Coast Guard boat. Despite having no shame or denial about my lack of sea-legs, and quite conscious of being even further off-keel than normal considering my beer gut, I put on a smile and waddled on board. At the helm was a crooked toothed sailor, with a big laugh, and an easy sense of humor, by the name of Tony Duckworth. His wife called him Tony, but no one else could find it in them to call him anything but “Duck,” and it suited him. Duck’s right hand man, and Nate’s rack mate, was named Ivan Figueroa. Equally well tempered as Duck, but with a subtler sense of humor, and a much quieter disposition, the crew called him “Figs.” Figs liked to rap, and all the Coastie crew liked to drink beer. They were sailors after all.

Onboard the boat we headed lazily out onto the water. I stood with my legs positioned far apart as to widen my center of gravity, and grabbed onto chairs, or poles, or passing people, in the desperation of not toppling feet over belly. Duck and my dad were hitting it off nicely and Duck decided to hand the helm over to him, and let him get a feel for the old girl. We approached the beach my parents and I had just left, and my dad took to the open waters beyond it. He steered steady and sped the boat on fast. The harrowing wind was no match for my massiveness, but the swerving boat was another matter. I gripped onto the rails for dear steadiness, and prayed a miraculous gift be bestowed upon my fluid-retaining legs that they would instantly figure the sea movement out so I wouldn’t fall over the boat’s edge.

With body-rocked anxiety in my eyes, Duck offered me the helm next “you can bring her in!” He positioned the boat station-bound in the 200 foot wide I.C.W. and assured me “It’s just like driving a car!” I took hold of the wheel feeling quite crowed and certain that for a 15 foot wide boat, 200 feet was not nearly enough space to navigate. Feeling anxious, I steered conservatively and straight. Despite my intense concentration and determination to keep the boat running parallel to the shore, I found driving a boat might be something you may need to have a knack for, as I couldn’t manage to keep it moving straight. For the first few moments of driving I tried to keep a cool face and mannerism. Panicking wouldn’t save me if I ran us into the ground. A small ways in the distance a crew ship approached us. I felt I was undoubtedly not adept enough to steer the boat in a straight line and avoid a crash. Eyes fixed on the path ahead; I politely informed Duck I was done driving. “Nah! You’re doing great! Keep it up.” He appeared to be preoccupied with some navigational Coast Guard matter. I felt the boat drifting towards a marina with several yachts parked happily in their slips. I attempted to turn the boat in the opposite direction and felt no immediate change. I tried in desperation to wipe the panic off my face the boat responded at last and moved away from the millions of dollars in sailing adventure. There was less than 100 feet between our boat, and the crew ship coming towards us. Feeling very claustrophobic I noticed the boat, again, was beginning to drift in a diagonal direction, right towards the bow of the crew boat. In a frenzy I turned and turned the wheel with no response from the stubborn boat. At my wits end I screamed “THERE’S A DELAY!!!” and proceeded to whimper and scream for someone to come and take the wheel before I smeared us all onto the bow of the three-times-our-size crew boat. At this point I began to hear stifled laughs coming from the people behind me. I tore my eyes from the way ahead, and chanced a desperate look towards Duck. Biting down upon his hysteria, I noticed he held his hand upon a small and inconspicuous knob: a lever. Duck, and the entire rest of the people onboard the ship, could contain themselves no longer. A huge cacophony of laugher erupted, Duck’s laughter howling loudest of all; the evil conspirator. As I gaped beneath my realization and embarrassment, I grasped, at last, that I had not driven an inch of the I.C.W. I waddled at maximum pregnant velocity towards Duck, fists flying. I got in my few vengeful girl-punches, and exhaled a brilliant sigh of sweet relief; I was not going to kill us after all.

Guiltless tears of laughter lined the eyes of everyone. Every single person had known from the very first signs of my poorly hidden panic that I was at no point driving the boat. They had whispered and motioned it to one another behind my back, pointing to Duck’s hand upon the lever and snickering under their breath. I felt certain the panic and frenzy of it all would send me into instant labor before we reached the slip, and I would, after so much “pressureless” waiting, precariously give birth to my daughter on the deck of the 47; alas, she was born 3 days later in our living room as we had planned. But that is another story.

My father delights in this boat-prank story, perhaps more than any other person present on that hot summer day. If it comes up in conversation he must always chime in with a giggle, and a “Yeah! You didn’t get to drive the boat! I did! But you didn’t!”