Our friends Tom and Amy bought a pontoon boat a couple years ago and we affectionately refer to it as the party barge. As an Aquarian, I love being on the water and have no trouble whoring myself out to anyone who owns a boat. I don’t barter with sexual favors but rather my ability to put together a picnic spread that would make Martha Stewart proud (though once I know the boat gig’s a sure thing I get lazy and start showing up with a bucket of chicken from KFC).
Dave contributes by being the de facto first mate for Captain Tom. He does a bunch of rope tying and generally helps Tom avoid hitting stuff. They’re mostly successful as a team.
I’m in charge of gathering up all the shit we need to haul to the lake like floaties, and towels, and sunscreen, and chairs. It’s piled up so high Dave can barely see out the back window of our SUV. I also stock the cooler and it would be nice if the kids would stop calling their juice boxes “kid beer” because that does not paint us in the best light parentally.
One evening Dave and I got a babysitter and joined Tom and Amy and two other couples for a sunset booze cruise. I was almost high I was so excited at the prospect of being on the water without worrying about anyone drowning or complaining that we were out of Chips Ahoy.
We left the marina around 6:00 and boated over to party cove. We docked the boat on the sand and uncorked the wine.
I was having a fabulous time. I didn’t have to worry about my pathetic bladder control because I spent much of the evening standing waist deep in a big lukewarm toilet swilling wine with my friends. It’s not often I encounter situations where it’s totally appropriate to pee right in my swimsuit. I drank so much wine I didn’t care that my friends standing near me were using the lake/toilet as much as I was.
We stayed at party cove until it was dark. I was really glad that navigating us back to the marina didn’t fall under my list of responsibilities. Tom and Amy’s boat is really big and I could only imagine the shit we might hit with it since no one was exactly sober. I had no idea when we left the cove what it would take to get us back on terra firma.
We headed to the marina but it was so dark I was having a really hard time identifying where it was (I’d also had so much wine I had mono-vision). I figured Tom probably knew where he was going so I didn’t concern myself with the navigational details.
Until we hit the sand. Apparently we were not yet at the marina but were actually in very shallow water off a beach. Trust me, in the dark everything looked the same.
I don’t think we had the required amount of lights on the boat though. I say that because a boat roared past us and yelled, “Get some lights on!” in a very hostile tone (some boaters are so “by the book”). Tom and Amy hadn’t had the pontoon very long and we were still working out a few kinks.
Tom steered the boat away from the beach and we headed out to deeper water. The boat sputtered and died shortly after that.
We tried to get the marina on the phone so they could send someone out to tow us in (Tom had their number on speed dial because this actually wasn’t our first snafu). No one answered even though we called them repeatedly.
The men in our group busied themselves with some boat motor diagnostics while I threw on a life jacket and prepared to make another cabernet deposit in the lake. I jumped overboard and quickly realized that I don’t like being in deep water when it’s dark. I thought of the giant mutant carp that were always swimming around by the marina and wondered if any of them liked to swim out to the middle of the lake.
When it was time to get back in the boat I found out the ladder was broken and it is nearly impossible to haul your ass into a pontoon boat without one, especially when your blood alcohol level is probably twice the legal limit. Luckily Dave and the guy Susie was dating plucked me out of the water. I tried to stay out of everyone’s way after that.
We were lucky Jim was on board because he has a boat of his own and knows his way around a motor. He was able to determine that when we hit the sand, the gas line became disconnected and the boat died because gas was leaking everywhere.
Unfortunately, Jim was also smoking a cigarette when he discovered the problem and we’re lucky we didn’t end up on the front page of the Des Moines Register’s Metro section with the headline: Forty-something’s blow up boat, and selves on lake. I had a sudden mental image of the boat morphing into a giant Roman candle that shot drunken adults out of the center of its fire-cracker inferno. Any accompanying article would probably also mention that alcohol was thought to be a factor.
Jim got rid of the cigarette and hooked the gas line back up. We managed to make our way back to the marina on fumes.
I still had a great time. It’s true I never drank anything stronger than iced tea on the boat for the rest of the summer. And I got so many mosquito bites that night that my legs were covered in calamine lotion and band-aids for a week. And we owed the babysitter a bunch of money because we were so late getting home.
But I still love boating and I still love being on the water. I can’t help it. I’m an Aquarius, you know.