Tag Archives: Margaret

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…

I like to think of road rage as a personality test.

17 Oct

For the umpteenth year in a row, DC has been named America’s worst city when it comes to traffic. Considering I’ve only put 13,000 miles on my car in the last three years, it’s hard for me to weigh in with any real authority, but I will say that I can generally get to my office faster on foot (25 minutes) than I can by car.

While I don’t love it, at least I can understand rush hour traffic. Hundreds of thousands of people are trying to get to roughly the same place, at the same time. That’s naturally going to lead to some gridlock.

What I don’t understand is weekend traffic. Nothing makes me more infuriated than when I think I’m going to run a quick errand — and end up sitting in my car for an hour trying to leave the District on a Saturday. Which is exactly what happened this weekend.

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There’s a moral to this story: Better a crab than an ass.

22 Jul

It’s been hotter than a warlock’s balls this week, and the forecast tells us Saturday will be even worse: 103 without the heat index (120 with it!). Know what that means? I’ll spend a fair portion of the weekend standing in Alan’s pool, reading a book.

Yes, you heard me right. I’ll be standing in the water reading a book. Kind of like how hippos stay in the water with only their eyes and nostrils out when it’s really hot.

The thing is, I’m not the only person that does this. MULTIPLE people who live in Alan’s community do the same thing — in fact, I learned this trick from them. Somehow, it has become “normal” to me in the past year, and I didn’t think anything of it, until Margaret came out the other weekend. (Remember Margaret? The Red Baron?)

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Like an ice cream truck, but with only one popsicle?

14 Jul

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Yesterday morning at work, before anyone else got in, Margaret asked for my help selecting a bouquet of flowers to send to a funeral. We chose an arrangement online, but when it came to order, we were a bit stumped.

“Name of the deceased?” the form asked.

Margaret’s cursor hovered in the space noncommittally.

“What’s the hold-up?” I asked her.

“I don’t know her name.”

“You’re sending flowers to someone and you don’t know her name?” I couldn’t compute.

“No, you dumb-ass,” she corrected me. “The funeral is for my friend’s mother-in-law. How would I know her name? I never met HER. In fact, this form is lame. Why does it want me to send the flowers to the attention of the deceased?”

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This is how you end up walking on your hands.

11 Jul

Do you remember in Peanuts how sometimes Snoopy would get super enthusiastic and end up looking like a show-off? No? Well, here’s a refresher:

Why is this on my mind? Because this weekend at the pool my friend Margaret  pulled a Snoopy.

It was incredibly hot, so we spent a fair amount of time in the water. Near the end of the day there was a group of four women standing around in the shallow end talking. Margaret and I jumped in and she challenged me to race a lap.

As we clung to the wall post-race, catching our breath, one of the girls from the group attempted a few strokes of butterfly. She clearly wasn’t strong enough to pull it off, so it petered out pretty quickly. But not quickly enough that Margaret didn’t see it.

Next thing I knew, Margaret was on her way toward the deep-end, swimming a powerful butterfly past the girls, clearly showing up the chick who had just sunk. (In her defense, Margaret was just curious to know if she could manage a whole lap, not overtly trying to be competitive.) In any case, it struck my funny bone, and by the time she reached the other end, I was snorting with laughter.

“What?” she called from the deep end. I shook my head.

About this time one of the girls tells her friends, “My stroke was always backstroke…”

And lo and behold, here comes Margaret, heading past them via backstroke, arms cranking like a windmill.

© Charles M. Schultz

I’m clutching my stomach by the time she pulls up next to me. Fortunately, instead of completing the triple-play by starting a lap of breaststroke, Margaret proposes a handstand contest.

And that’s how I found myself upside-down, holding my breath and acting like I was twelve again. I think I have a new nickname for Margaret: The Red Baron.

Not that it’s a bad thing.