Thursday, September 6, 2012
Over Labor Day weekend, Chris and I were graciously invited to the lakeside home of one of his aunts. Nelson Pond is a place we both love to visit and so we jumped at the chance to enjoy fabulous company in a beautiful setting unfettered by technology. It also helps that I love water - in any form. Give me half a chance to even dangle my feet and I'm an instant fan. Put me into a boat and I'll love you for life. Normally, I prefer to kayak (because for me, peace finds me best when I am in my own company) but Chris wanted to give canoeing a shot. I had no major reservations, so I agreed. And as it turns out, if you ever want to test the strength of your relationship, canoeing is the way to go. Trust me on this one.
We walked across the lawn to the area where the canoe was stored, near a small river which emptied into the mouth of the lake. I looked at the boat and immediately voted to just shove it 2 feet over into the river and walk with the boat to the lake. But Chris vetoed my idea and insisted that we carry the canoe. I was dubious but game, so he lifted one end of the canoe high into the air and I lifted my end of the canoe 2 inches off of the ground and away we went. We'd walked about 15 steps when I looked at Chris and said, "Stop!"
"Because I need a minute. My arms hurt. We've been walking with this canoe for days."
"We've only gone 10 feet. We're not even halfway to the lake yet. Pick it back up, baby."
Reluctantly, I picked up the canoe and we continued our march to the promised land of pond. Three staggering steps later, my arms began to give. "Stop! I need another break!"
"No. Keep going. If we stop now, we're going to spend all day carrying this stupid canoe."
I did what any sane woman would do when faced with an unpleasant option - I made a new one. I plopped my end of the canoe down into the grass. Chris may or may not have been walking with the canoe at this point and the sudden change in canoe trajectory may or may not have caused him to trip a little. Or a lot. While toting the canoe.
"OWW. What the hell? Why'd you drop the canoe? Pick it back UP!"
Since Chris looked a little hot under the collar, I decided the wisest course of action was compliance. Arms protesting mightily, I picked up my end of the canoe and we eventually managed to put it down into the mouth of the pond. We walked in up to our ankles, dragging the canoe through a sandbar when I realized I needed to stop and roll up the hem of my capris. So I stopped. The canoe rammed into the back of Chris' calves.
"Oww. What the hell? Why are we stopped now?!"
"I have to roll up my pants so that the hem doesn't get wet..."
"Why are you even in capris? Go put your bathing suit on. We're canoeing. You're probably going to tip us over and then you'll be soaked."
"I don't want to wear my bathing suit. I want to wear capris. And I am NOT going to tip this boat over..."
"Whatever. Get wet. Fine. Just get in the canoe."
I stepped into the canoe.
"WHY ARE YOU STANDING IN THE CANOE?! YOU NEVER STAND IN A CANOE! SIT DOWN. YOU ARE LITERALLY ROCKING THE BOAT!!"
I did what I was told and promptly plopped my derriere onto the wooden board that passes for the seat of a canoe.
"Chelsea, WHY are you facing BACKWARDS?! Just how do you intend to make a meaningful contribution to our locomotion across the lake facing backwards? Just face the right way. Now."
I maneuvered myself into Chris's idea of proper rowing position, all the while revisiting the yell-fest of 30 second previously like a case of bad deja vu ("You're standing in the damn canoe again! I thought I told you not to stand in the canoe?!" Yada. Yada. Yada.)
After a few more minutes, we finally managed to ensure that Chris and I and our various fishing accoutrements were safely and dryly ensconced in the canoe. Chris handed me an oar and we proceeded to start our trek across the pond. I grasped the oar and proceeded to dip it under the sparkling surface of the water.
"Why are you holding your oar like that? That's not how you do it. That is NOT how you paddle in a canoe."
"Since when is there a right way? You just paddle and go. That's the beautify of canoeing. It's supposed to be simple and relaxing. So let's just relax."
We continued to try and make headway in the lake. Apparently, rowing works better when done in tandem.
"Chelsea, just stop. Stop rowing. Just sit there and look pretty. I'll do it myself."
Sounded like a great plan to me, so I let Chris row me to the middle of the pond. I could hear him puffing a little bit but hey...he'd requested the opportunity to row, row, row that boat all by himself.
"Chris, stop. Just stop. It's perfect here."
"Why are we stopping? No stopping."
"Because I brought my fishing pole and I'm not going back to shore without a fish. And the fish won't bite my awesome pink, sparkly jelly-like synthetic worm if you drag us through the water so fast that it only skims the surface. Duh."
"The fish aren't going to bite that stupid thing. Why'd you make me bait your hook with that anyway?"
"Because if I were a fish, this is precisely the kind of worm I'd want to nibble."
"Whatever. You're not a fish, you're just a weird little woman. You're not going to catch any fish with that."
An hour later, we were still cruising around the pond with no fish to show for our efforts. Another couple rowing in their canoe a few feet away made their first cast and pulled out a fish. I was insulted.
"I hate this stupid pink synthetic worm-thing. I want something different on my hook."
"No. Just keep fishing, Chelsea."
"Uh-uh. I need a new dangly-thing for my hook. I want to exchange the pink worm for this white thing with the marabou on it."
"You think the fish that aren't eating your pink synthetic worm are going to magically decide to nosh on a vaguely fish-shaped bait decorated in white marabou?"
"Yes. Just put it on."
Chris dutifully changed my bait. He dutifully rowed me around the lake again. I dutifully caught nothing.
"Chelsea, this is stupid. We should have just brought worms. Fish like worms."
"But I don't like worms."
This continued for several minutes, during which time the conversation turned from fish food to human food.
"Chelsea, I'm hungry. You didn't catch anything. I'm rowing us in."
"But if we stay just a minute more, I'll probably catch something."
"You're not going to catch anything. We're going back to shore."
"Ok, fine. Whatever. Let's go. But I want to row this time."
"How about you not row? You don't do it right. And if you row, you'll move around. You'll probably tip us over and then later, your arms are just going to hurt and I'm going to have to listen to you complain about how sore and wet you are."
"Ok fine. I won't row. I'm just going to enjoy the scenery."
Five minutes later, Chris was puffing a little bit.
"Chelsea, row the damn boat."
"But I thought you said I didn't know how to row and that it'd make my arms hurt?"
"Just. Row. The. Boat."
I rowed. We did not tip over. We made it to shore.
"Ok, we've got to put the canoe back where we found it. Lift up your end and let's go."
"But my arms hurt from rowing and I'm pretty sure if I have to pick up the canoe they will fall off."
"Whatever. Pick up the damn canoe."
Our return trip over dry land with the canoe went pretty much the same as the first trip.
I admit that I was somewhat discouraged. Canoeing was supposed to be fun. It was supposed to be relaxing. In the movies, the charming, handsome hero always rows the beautiful heroine across a lake so smooth it looks like glass. He makes rowing look easy and the heroine never has to help row. They stop in the middle of the lake with a picnic lunch and glasses of wine, and after they eat a romantic meal, the heroine reclines delicately in the hero's arms and they stare at their surroundings and talk about their future.
My handsome hero was grumpy. He didn't make the rowing look easy, and he made the beautiful heroine row the boat, too. Instead of a picnic lunch and wine, there were fishing poles and synthetic worms. Chris was sweating so much that if I'd tried to recline delicately against his chest, I'm pretty sure he would have tossed me overboard into the pond. We both returned to shore fish-less and with sunburns and bug bites. It was definitely not the outing I had envisioned.
But in the quiet moment as we walked away from the lake, as I fought back waves of bitter disappointment, Chris leaned over and slung his arm across my shoulders.
"I had a great time, babe. It's a beautiful day and I got to spend it with you. We should canoe again sometime."
And you know what? There was no sarcasm in his voice. He was sincere. He'd do it all over again.
You know what else? So would I.