Row, row your boat.

4 Aug
Don't be too eager to seek out a power position.

Don’t be too eager to seek out a power position.

Last weekend my friend Margaret and I went kayaking on the Potomac. We rented a two-seater, and Margaret took the front seat. Or rather, she let me have the back seat.

You might think this doesn’t matter, but it does.

We had originally planned to canoe – something we’re both familiar with – and had debated who would get to take the rear seat, since we’re both control freaks and that person gets to steer. However, the boathouse was out of canoes, and – when they issued us a double kayak – we didn’t realize that the rules of our control-freakery had changed.

So Margaret (in a move that later would seem reminiscent of Tom Sawyer and the white-washed fence) conceded the rear seat, saying she thought I was probably more controlling than her. I took that as a compliment.

As it turns out? The rear seat doesn’t actually steer in a kayak. I was busy trying to match Margaret’s stroke patterns so our paddles wouldn’t hit. And every time the breeze blew, the water from her paddles landed squarely on my lap.

When we finished our hour-long adventure, we climbed out of the boat – Margaret as dry as a bone, and me? My skirt was drenched and I was sitting in a pool of water. It looked like I’d soiled myself. (Entirely possible, but I actually hadn’t – this time.)

Anyway, about half-way through our jaunt, as we passed under the Key Bridge, I realized that my thumb was burning. And I looked, only to establish that I’d developed – and popped – a pretty wicked blister from holding the paddle incorrectly. To prevent any further damage, I started holding my thumb like I was hitchhiking, which seemed to work.

When we got home, I wrapped a bandaid around my thumb, using it to cover the blister so it didn’t burn every time wind or water hit it. Apparently I applied the bandaid too tightly, however, because when I removed it three days later, I had a white band of wrinkled skin around my thumb.

I stared at it, thinking, “Is it possible that I screwed this up so badly I’ve picked up an infection and my thumb is going to fall off?” Of course not. But that’s where my head goes.

In fact, when Margaret and I had been on the river, I said, “What if we capsize?” She shook her head dismissively.

Then I said, “I think my mind naturally goes to far-fetched, worst-case scenarios. For example, the other day I was biking along the Potomac, and I thought, “Could I outrun a bobcat if one jumped out of the bushes?”

Margaret said, “Does DC even have bobcats?”

Me, “I have no idea. But that’s not the point. I like to be prepared and know what my odds are, in case it DOES happen.”

She shook her head again.

And I decided it was probably not the best time to ask how fast she thought she could paddle in the event that we had to outrun a large boat. Next time I’m going to let her take the back seat so I don’t see her head shaking.

How I pictured our kayaking experience...

How I pictured our kayaking experience…

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10 Responses to “Row, row your boat.”

  1. thesinglecell August 4, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

    “I stared at it, thinking, ‘Is it possible that I screwed this up so badly I’ve picked up an infection and my thumb is going to fall off?’ Of course not. But that’s where my head goes.”
    EXACTLY.

    • pithypants August 9, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

      See? You get it. In the realm of possibilities.

      • thesinglecell August 9, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

        And then the infection gets into your blood and you have red streaks up your arm which means you have a dangerous blood infection that could kill you.
        In the realm.

      • pithypants August 13, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

        I think I’m dead. My finger. It killed me.

  2. Kevin August 5, 2013 at 1:23 am #

    Nothing like your thumb falling off to realize what is important in life….like your skirt being soaked by your supposed friend. Clearly it was a plot to undermine your control on this outing. However, bobcats can be quite cute and cuddly when they are attacking you. Good post!!

    • pithypants August 9, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

      I’m a fan of bobcats in general. Especially Bobcat Goldthwait.

  3. Kimberly Pugliano (@GisSilent) August 7, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    Yes.

  4. Karen August 29, 2013 at 11:43 pm #

    When I run and bike I have worst case scenario thoughts but they’re not for me but for other people. I’m by lakes and rivers and I’m always plotting how I’m going to get in the water to save someone who falls in while making sure to get someone else to call 911. Sometimes my runs are so boring I almost WANT someone to fall in which is all sorts of crazy want-to-be-a-hero complex.

    • pithypants August 30, 2013 at 8:07 am #

      You and I should exercise together. I could be your victim.

      • Karen August 31, 2013 at 9:16 am #

        just one more reason we were meant to be friends!

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