Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Boat Ride

It's the weekend, and you know what that means. Here's a brief and funny article from one of my favorite humorists, Bruce Cameron. I think you'll enjoy it.

By W. Bruce Cameron

I am a member of that nearly extinct generation of Americans which actually thinks it possible to enjoy a vacation without hours and hours of cable television. I believe that a lake can be fun even if you don't rent jet skis and blast around at high speed, and when I come up with a list of exciting things to do on a trip, "go to the mall" is not likely to be on it, even if they do have factory-outlet stores.

Because of my antediluvian attitude, I have forced my children to suffer through several "horrible vacations," including one just this summer in which my younger teenage daughter "almost drowned."

She didn't almost anything. I took her out in a rowboat by promising her an opportunity for one-on-one quality time with her father, during which the two of us could talk intimately about anything she wanted and then I would pay her twenty dollars.

I know it sounds as if I were bribing her to spend time with me, but in my view, she was going to get the money out of me anyway, "borrowing" it so that she could go shopping later. This loan would join all the others in a non-interest-bearing note which even Enron's accountants would have ethical trouble calling an asset.

Okay, maybe not "ethical" trouble.

At any rate, we rowed along for awhile, enjoying a silence disturbed only by the occasional gurgle when my oar dipped into the water. Then she took me up on my offer to discuss anything she had on her mind, which turned out to be this:

"Can we go back now?"

"We've only been out for five minutes; let's drift for a bit," I suggested.

"I can't believe this boat doesn't have a motor."

"I don't mind rowing. Do you want to try it? It's a lot of fun," I offered seductively.


"I brought a rod; do you want to try to catch a fish?"


"What do you want to do?"

"Go back."

"Wouldn't you rather be out here on the lake?"


It was, I reflected, one of our more pleasant conversations.

"Dad, what's with the water?" She pointed at my feet.

I frowned. A steadily growing pool of water was forming on the bottom of the boat. As a sailor of considerable experience, I immediately recognized we were in the nautical condition known as "sinking."

"The plug fell out," I noted.

"Oh no!" my daughter shrieked.

"Don't be afraid. We won't drown," I assured her.

"These are new shoes!"

"Just put on a life vest." I held one out to her.

She glanced at it disdainfully. "Could they pick a more hideous color?"

"I'll get us back to the dock." I began heaving on the oars, but the boat had gained considerable weight and responded sluggishly. Not wanting my daughter to panic, I decided to distract her with a question. "Well, we seem to be taking on about a gallon a minute.

With every gallon, our speed slows down by about one percent. Our current rate of travel is around a foot a second, and we have a hundred yards to go. How long will it take us to get to shore?"

Her eyes bulged. "The boat is sinking and you want me to do math?

"It's an interesting problem, don't you think?"

"You're making me nauseated."

"You could take that coffee can and bail."

She gingerly picked up a rusting can. "It has dirt in it."

"Right, that's where they keep the earthworms."

She dropped the can. "Ew!"

"But if you bailed a quart of water every ten seconds..."

"If a boat were sinking an inch a minute, how long would it take my dad to realize he's a complete dork?" she wondered out loud.

We didn't sink, but by the time I got us to shore a considerable amount of lake had joined us in the boat. Our pants were soaked, and my daughter couldn't wait to tell her siblings that in the midst of drowning, I insisted on torturing her with algebra.

Also, her shoes were "ruined," so the twenty dollars I gave her would go toward a replacement pair.

She borrowed the rest.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:48 AM

    Great! Thanks for the humor!