I went Friday to get my kayak, The Miles Standish, out of Dr. B's garage. I took that and my roof box (I didn't need the roof box for this particular outing, I just sort of wanted to have it on top of my car as I drove around this weekend. That went pretty well. Got everything on top of the car. Got everything loaded up. Got everything tied down so that it wouldn't fall off the top of my car as I cruised down the road. I went home and promptly feel asleep on the couch watching South Park. So far so good.
Saturday was bad right from the start. You may have read how I wrote about how people forget that there are residents in most downtown business districts. Well, that held true on Saturday morning. See, as part of the Cranberry Fest activities there was an "antique fair" going on downtown on the street in front of my house. First of all, to call any of the things that were being sold "antiques" was extremely generous. I walked down there, on top of starting down on the stuff from my living room window, and instead of calling it an "antique fair" they should have called it a "flea market" or a "rummage sale" because there were no "antiques" there was just "junk that people wanted to get rid of for exorbitant prices." Okay, I'm done with the "question marks." But seriously, this was basically a sale of old stuff, or stuff that dealers got on consignment from wherever, or stuff that they jacked off of a delivery bound for Family Dollar. It was not an antique fair. Sorry.
Secondly, the fair started at eight. So of course the vendors had to arrive at 6 am to start setting up their tables. And were you aware that setting up tables of old junk to sell to senior citizens and my mom involves shouting at each other at the top of your lungs? It's true. Also, you need to slam every folding table leg into place and generally make as much noise as humanly possibly. But it's the shouting that is key. You basically have to do whatever you can to be super-duper loud and wake up the guy living upstairs. And that's what they did. So by 6:20 ON MY DAY OFF I was up and watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on TV Land. Because I would rather watch that than an infomercial about colon cleansing, okay? So two hours later, it's 9 am and Ty Pennington is done weeping and all the other designers are done taking credit for the work that Constance and the builders did, and I decide to leave. So I don a sweatshirt and blue shorts, because it's nice and sunny outside, and I grab my stuff and head out the door. I didn't find out until I got in the car and turned on the radio that that it was still only 28 degrees outside. So I am freezing my ass off. But I am staring at 3 flights of stairs to get me back up to my apartment and onto my couch, so I am committed to this expedition. I pull my car out of the alley and sneak the back way out of town to avoid all the people coming into it for Cranberry Fest. By the time I was off the city streets my heater was pumping and life was good.
Now, I've been to my dad's cabin before, so you'd think that I would have known what I was getting into. But no, the fact that the shoreline at the cabin is basically swamp never occurred to me. It didn't even occur to me as I pulled up the driveway. It didn't occur to me as I got out of the car, or as I unstrapped the kayak, or as I walked down the path. It didn't really occur to me until I was halfway down the frost-covered pier and set my kayak down and it made a sort of sickening sucking noise as it settled into the muck. This would stop most people. But remember, there are all those stairs and I have committed myself. Adding to the fun is the fact that the lake, like most around here, is about four feet low. So the water is now about eight feet farther away from the cabin as it usually is, and at that point it is only two inches deep. But I am committed. And this is where I get into trouble.
When I step off the pier to push the kayak my foot sinks down into the muck to about, oh, let's say the top or my ankle. Right above where the bone sticks out. Like, up to the point where I usually pull my socks, unless they are dress socks. That's how far I sink in. I can't even see my sandal anymore, except for a little bit of the back still sticking out like a log that's jammed under the wheel of a stuck vehicle. Immediately I know that this is not good. Because when you are sinking into the muck, watching the water begin to pool around your calf on a 28 degree day as you sink, that is not a condition that is conducive to a successful completion of your plans. Unless your plan is to sink into the muck and be oil in a million years. So I extract myself, and my sandal, and begin to formulate a new approach.
Those of you who know me know that I am not the most graceful person in the world. Once in a while I surprise, but generally I am like Jack Tripper, tripping over or getting caught on everything that I can. So, needless to say, I don't generally like to have to climb down into my kayak off the pier. Like, when it's floating in the water, moored to the end of the dock, bobbing on the waves, that is not the ideal situation for me. But that's how bad the shoreline situation was at the lake, that I decided to push The Miles Standish out to the end of the pier where it would be floating and get in there.
There was one small problem, though. The kayak was sitting about three feet off the side of the pier, out of easy reach for me, even if I were to kneel down. I suppose I could have laid down, but I that's an uncomfortable way to have to move something, and even then you can only move it like sixteen inches, so I ruled that out. I, like most primates, decided to use an available tool. I came to the conclusion that my best option would be to push the kayak out to the end of the pier with my paddle, get in, and enjoy my morning on the lake. This plan worked pretty well for the first push. The Miles Standish skated across the muck towards its destination. It was when I went to jam the paddle back under the seat and began to push a second time that things began to unravel in a big way.
Were you aware that a wet rubber sandal with all the grips worn off of it on a frost-covered wooden pier does not have good traction? Well, it doesn't. So as I went to push on the paddle to move the kayak towards the water, my right foot slips out from underneath me, and down I go. I crumple like a 7-Up can. My right knee hits somewhere in the middle of the pier and I lose a patch of skin, which is replaced by a nice bruise. My right arm goes down to brace myself, but there is nothing to brace it on because it's off the edge of the pier. So I keep going downward into a sort of horrible, awkward front somersault until my forearm reaches the dreaded muck down below the pier. But muck isn't terribly good at supporting weight. So when my forearm hits nothing happens. The somersault continues. Now, if you think about the dynamics of the human body, and if I, as a writer, have done my job, you will be able to picture what happens next. Yeah, that's right. In goes my head.
I hit the muck with the top of my forehead, right about where my hairline would be if it weren't receding. Slurp! It was like I was in slow motion after my forearm hit. I was trying, with every muscle in my body, to keep my head out of the muck. Because muck usually feels gross. And it's full of decaying matter, so it usually smells really bad. So I am watching myself as I continue to roll forward until my eyes close as my head hits. I was not happy.
So, needless to say, that was the end of my kayaking trip. I popped up, just in case there was someone on the lake watching me, and began to assess my situation. There was a patch of decaying muck-type matter on my forehead, about three inches square. There was some in my eyebrow as well. Both of the sleeved of my light-grey sweatshirt were covered with muck. So was my hat. My knee was bleeding. Oh, and it was still about 31 degrees outside. I was done. Off came the sweatshirt, off came the sandals. I was into the car with the heat blasting until I got to take a shower. I didn't even bother with the kayak. I left it there until Sunday. I just didn't feel like dealing with it anymore. As I drove home I was thinking about it and I realized that I fall into the water more when I am not in my kayak than I do when I am in it. That wasn't a comforting thought either. But all's well that ends well I guess. My sweatshirt will come clean. My knee will be fine. And my pride is obviously healed enough that I am sharing it with you. Plus, my Sunday expedition went better. Hopefully I will be a little smarter by the time spring rolls around again. Then I can keep the muck off my face.