Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Leave it to Beaver

My husband’s family has been vacationing at Lake Wallenpaupack in the Pocono region for nigh on forever. While he was growing up, the family would stay in a series of tiny, rustic cabins with his grandparents. They would fish off the dock, swim in the water, and play in the woods. This lake is very important to his family. His eldest brother got married up there. His youngest brother got engaged up there. Should this lake ever get hit by a meteor and disappear in a cloud of vapor and ash, his family would be devastated.

My children are well indoctrinated into lake culture. However, their experience is quite a bit different than that of their father’s childhood. For starters, there are no dirty cabins filled with spiders. Instead, they get to enjoy all the benefits of home (and then some) because their grandparents now own a lakefront cabin and a boat bigger than my living room. Fishing is a side interest at best, because they spend all of their time on the flotilla of flotation devices owned by their uncle. At six, my daughter has already been on a Jet Ski and gone tubing. She stays with her grandparents in comfort and splendor. My husband and I stay at my BIL/SIL’s gorgeous, custom-build log cabin in an alcoholic haze. It’s awesome.

This past weekend was one of the many “family weekends” that are scheduled where all four sets of children/spouses, their parents, the two grandchildren, and the grandchild-to-be all gather to make merry on land and lake. Sadly, we were without one set and they were dearly missed. But, the weather was a perfect 85 degrees with not a cloud in the sky and the alcohol flowed to the point where all three brothers were contemplating ditching work to go to a Motley Crüe concert. My daughter took her first turn ‘round the lake on a tube and loved it, my son continued his quest to be the youngest pontoon boat captain ever, and my husband I got to walk away from our earthly cares (and kids) to just relax.

This brings us to the damn Jet Ski. As Saturday afternoon was winding down, my daughter begged for one last run on it. Never having been known to say no to his niece, her uncle immediately agreed. In a kind turn, he invited my husband to be the driver and said I should go as well as it sat three. The obligatory picture was snapped and off we went. Straight was fine, straight was good. It was the turn that did us in. Within sight of the dock and our watching family (who, as it turned out, weren’t watching at all), we fell off the stupid floating death trap into the lake, flipping it over entirely. Luckily, my daughter took it rather well and after the ski was righted, clambered right back aboard and was ready to keep going. I thought this was an excellent attitude and meant to do the same. Except, well, every time we tried to get all three of us back on, we all fell off. Over and over and over again. By the sixth time we were unceremoniously dumped back into the drink, my daughter was no longer laughing. She was crying. So, once again, she climbs up, her father climbs up, and as I start swimming over to climb up, she turns to him as says,

“Let’s just leave Mommy and go.”

One the one hand, the tang of steel sliding between my shoulder blades hurt as she twisted that particular knife. On the other hand, I was actually proud of her rather bloodless ability to analyze the situation, find the flaw, and come up with a solution. Screw the no man left behind business, she really and honestly wanted to leave me floating in the middle of a lake to fend for myself while she got herself to safety. After years of believing that she was 100 percent her father’s daughter, I finally saw a glimmer of myself in her. It’s my own fault if that glimmer was reflecting off her cold, cold heart.

It was around this time that the monkey bunch back on the dock realized that the tomfoolery going on within binocular range involved their immediate family and they came to our aid. The girls climbed aboard, my husband got on the back of the godforsaken water beast and we were off. Except we weren’t – because we had broken the Jet Ski.

Now, this is not the first time we’ve been in this particular situation. Seven years ago, my father-in-law handed over the keys to the boat for a sunset cruise: my husband as captain, me as pregnant passenger. Off we went. A good ways away from land, the boat stopped. Just decided it was done. It was late in the season and there weren’t many boats on the water as dusk fell. Luckily, just ahead of us were my brothers-in-law, with wives! I waved, they waved back. I waved again, this time a bit more vigorously. They waved back cheerfully. They proceed to sit and have a snack while my husband desperately attempted to get us moving again. I start waving again, this time while shouting and using a red sweatshirt for a bit of exclamatory color. They wave back. It was at this point that I honestly thought they were going to pull anchor and leave us to a watery grave. Finally, finally, common sense kicked in and they realized that something must be wrong and floated to our aid. We ended the evening being towed back to the dock via rope while they threw pretzels at us for sustenance.

So here we were, another lake weekend, another broken piece of equipment, being towed back to the dock by rope. The only difference was the lack of pretzels. I’m pretty sure my Jet Ski career is over and only a fool would give my husband the keys to anything else again. But I’m sure we will be back, year after year, to that particular lake, with that particular family, making memories. Just hopefully, not more ones of us breaking shit – because that is going to get expensive.

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