Vacation Horror Story

It was supposed to be a delightful, sunny day. To be fair, the weather played its part perfectly. The sky was blue, dotted with random bits of fluffy clouds, and the sun shone brilliantly, sparkling off the lake, which glittered like fairy dust. A casual breeze whispered softly through the trees and tickled our hair.

The calm, serene waters of Stump Pond were cool and inviting, and with oars in hand, life vests strapped on, and a picnic basket full of goodies, we happily strode down the dirt path to the small dock and the rowboat that awaited us.

A day of boating, basking under the sun, and enjoying a wonderful lunch of sandwiches, snacks, and wine was to be the perfect conclusion to our short vacation. Little did we know that we were both about to enter a nightmare to which there was no escape, trapped as we were on the lake, with tempers flaring, oars rattling, and the sun, once warm and delightful, now pounding us with hellish rays of heat, mocking our plight.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Having only been in a rowboat once before, in which I did not partake of much rowing, I knew it would take a little coordination on my part, which I had apparently not packed enough of that day. We managed to pull away from the dock with little effort, but once we reached open water on all sides, it became evident that the simple task of rowing a boat was not exactly my forte.

My arms refused to work in conjunction, and for the briefest of moments when I did manage to get a forced rhythm going, the pesky oars would antagonize me by slipping from the oar rests.

My wife, eager to help (and also eager to actually get further into the lake than 25 feet) offered to take an oar. Sitting in the rear of the boat, she would row on the left side, and I on the right.

In theory, this might seem like a good idea. But having been driving with my wife, whose sharp, unyielding criticism of my vehicular skills have either made me cringe or brought me to the brink of a fit of rage, I should have known better.

We made decent progress at first, moving along at a moderate pace near the opposite shoreline, taking in the scenery and enjoying the tranquility. That peace was abruptly shattered as we began to steer directly into a crop of overhanging tree branches, which bore a remarkable amount of spiderwebs.

I could tell that we weren’t going to be able to steer around them in time, so thinking quickly, I decided I would hold the branches away from my wife while we passed safely under them. This might have also been a good idea, had she not spotted the incredibly large spider lurking within the branches.

My wife, terrified of insects as she is, was immediately overcome by a frightening mixture of unbridled fear, and unrelenting anger, which was unfortunately focused on me, as I was the one who had led us directly into the path of the fearsome arachnid.

Nevertheless, we managed to narrowly avoid the spider, but the trauma my wife had suffered was now going to spill over into a battle of wills and words. After a severe tongue lashing about my rowing incompetence, our progress was reduced to an awkward crawl, veering and turning uncontrollably, as my oar strokes, stronger than hers, served to cause the rowboat to turn too much to the left rather than keeping us on a forward path.

While I may not have had the proper coordination for rowing, I understood the concept, and I tried to explain to my wife what we needed to do and what we were doing wrong, but this only served to infuriate her more, which in turn stoked my ire further, and even the birds were suitably silenced as they regarded us flailing our arms and shouting wildly.

Frustrated, I decided this little rowboat adventure was hereby over, and I promptly dropped the anchor into the water. Of course, this did little to end the happy discussion between my wife and I, as we were still trapped together in the boat, a tricky predicament to say the least. Out here, there were no walls or doors to hide behind, no cars to drive away in. We were stuck together, for better or for worse, and this was definitely one of those ‘worse’ moments.

It became apparent that we would have to continue rowing. I was of a mind to row back to shore, or jump in the water and swim back if I couldn’t get a handle on that pesky rowing problem. My wife was still determined to reach a small beach, even farther away than the salvation of the docks.

As I reached to pull up the anchor, I noticed that the chain which had connected the anchor was no longer in the boat. Having surmised that it hadn’t been attached, I thought little of it and bid the lost anchor farewell.

Together, we once again struggled to reach the shore, offering each other sarcastic quips and well-aimed barbs along the way. The pace was agonizingly slow and our course was something reminiscent of what a hyper child might produce if you asked him to draw a straight line.

Somehow, we either managed to reach the beach, or God had answered my prayers and moved it closer to us, so that I could escape the damn boat already. I jumped from the boat and pulled it up on shore, and spied a familiar chain attached to the front of the boat, which had not been visible before from my position within the boat. It was our trusty anchor, who had not been lost at sea after all.

The revelation that we had just rowed (if you could call it that) across the lake while dragging the anchor brought forth another stream of venom from my wife, but at this point, I had resigned myself to the fact that everything was indeed my fault and so be it, I was going to sit and relax and eat my sandwich and rowing troubles be damned. Besides, I thought we had done fairly well considering we were towing and anchor along the bed of the lake.

Over the course of the afternoon, the silence and glares bounding between us turned into some form of stressed civility, and while we weren’t quite ready to enjoy each other’s company again, we could at least acknowledge it and appreciate the surrounding nature.

Perhaps it was a rediscovered cache of of coordination, perhaps it was determination to get this ridiculous adventure overwith, perhaps a combination of both. But on the return trip to the docks, I managed to row nearly flawlessly, at a steady clip, much to the coupled happiness and dismay of my wife, who was glad to see her husband rowing a boat as a man should, but also sad to have the newfound sense of peace on the water coming to an end.

We will likely journey to the lake again, but next time, we are bringing a motor.

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