The following story is a recountance of true events. Emotions, time frames, and dialogue are potentially misconstrued and over exaggerated due to the fact that there was alcohol involved.
It started with a paddleboard.
Yup, you know, one of these things. They’re supposed to be fun, a good way to exercise, a tool to relax on the open water.
Only it wasn’t. It was a plank of desolation, inconvenience, and misery.
Well, wait. Let’s backtrack a little bit. I was on vacation. Minnesota. July 2013. The purpose: a bi-annual reunion with my best friends with whom I studied abroad in Dublin back in 2009. We have had about six reunions prior to this one, the most recent summer event was at this exact lake house.
We agreed that this was the only spot to spend our summer reunions from there on out, so we returned with anticipation and a thirst that only a multitude of beers, margaritas, and shots could quench.
The day started as most days did, on the boat, in the sun, drinking beverages of the adult variety. Friends were seen jumping off the stern, or port, or whatever you call it, into the lake, floating on noodles and crushing beers. Others were seen riding a jetski at high speeds. Some were tanning on the lawn. It was a great day. And it remained that way until everyone had their fill of each activity that was offered.
As the sun transitioned to set, Audrey* and I decided we wanted to take one last trip out on the paddleboard before dinner – you know, because we needed exercise and stuff.
** Name has been changed to protect Audrey's identity.
We float/don’t do much at all but sit/paddle out into the lake, singing songs in what I’m positive was completely off key, laughing, and trying to balance enough to both stand up on the board at the same time. It was only a short time later that we both realized the current was a lot stronger than we thought, and we had drifted quite a bit away from the dock, safety, and our friends.
“Audrey, we’re really far away. What are we supposed to do?”
“Get off the paddle board, start swimming and pull us like you’re in a dog sled race.” She responded.
I tried my best, but to no avail, we ended up floating farther and farther away, but at a rapid pace.
“Let’s signal for them,” I suggested, “they’ll hear us if we yell loud enough. I heard that sound travels on water.”
We both screamed for help, and a man with a jetski came to our rescue. “Here,” he said as he motioned to jump, “you two climb on the jetski, I’ll paddle the board back to the dock. I left the keys in the ignition.”
It seemed fool proof. Only it wasn’t. I lost my sunglasses in the transition from the water to the platform, the second pair of the day. Audrey was grabbing my arm like you would a toy on black Friday so that I wouldn’t fall back into the water. It was a complete disaster. We looked like we had just learned that we each had limbs, only had no idea how to maneuver them.
We looked off into the distance and the lad who had helped us was already halfway back to the dock. “What the hell did he do that we didn’t do?” I asked. “He probably didn’t have eight margaritas today.” Audrey answered. She was probably right.
We’re both (almost) securely on the jetski when Audrey reaches for the key and turns right to activate the ignition. It chuggs. She turns again. It sounds almost like the noise someone makes before they sneeze; just heavy, mechanic, wheezing. I don’t know a lot about motors, but I know that when there is fuel inside them, and you turn the key, they turn on.
Then the red light of death starts blinking. “FUEL GAUGE ERROR. PLEASE CHECK ENGINE.” I read in complete dismay.
We’re drifting fast towards a set of docks on the opposite side of the lake. No one is around us, the kid who rescued us has since rescued the paddle board and himself, and has now safely returned to land.
We were stranded.
I have no threshold for sanity or patience in these types of dilemmas so I immediately start freaking out. “HOLY SHIT, WE’RE LOST. AUDREY, HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET BACK.?!?!” I’m frantic. Audrey starts to feel it as well. She jumps out, and starts to pull the jetski towards the closet dock.
“Jump out and grab the rope, tie us to this dock.” She instructs me. I followed the directions. We had landed on this empty dock. Audrey was sandwiched between the Ski-Doo and the dock pole, a place I like to call, Barnacle City. Once tied, we looked up at the house the dock belonged to, and noticed a woman on the balcony, just staring at us.
She was drinking a margarita. I can only imagine what her view was like from up there. Two drunk girls in bathing suits, a broken jetski, and no sense of direction just tacking up on her property.
Audrey and I made our way up the steps, crossing her lawn, and eventually made awkward eye contact. “Hi! Excuse us, we’re like lost. And our jetski has no gas. We’re just trying to get back home.” I explain to this woman.
“Well, my husband isn’t going to be home for a while, and I’ve just had extensive back surgery. I’m on multiple pain medications, and I can’t really think or see straight at the moment.” She explains her situation to us. It seemed like… a little bit of an overshare. But we had no choice. Audrey and I looked at each other, thinking about what our next move would be, when suddenly she interrupts our thoughts, “Would you guys like a sandwich? You can use my telephone, too.”
A telephone sounded great. A sandwich sounded amazing. We had worked up a serious appetite, and I was hoping to the high heavens that she had bacon, lettuce, and tomato in that house. An avocado wouldn’t hurt either, but I wasn’t banking on it. We started to walk towards the basement door when we heard the honking of a boat horn.
Audrey and I turned around and saw all of our friends on the boat, honking at us, laughing at us, and most importantly, rescuing us. They took a rope and towed the jetski back to the dock. We turned and thanked the woman for her almost-hospitality, and promptly ran back to the boat, and grabbed a towel to dry off.
It had been a long day. On the safety of land, I pondered to myself. I know I don’t like to exercise, but this incident damn near proved me right. Exercising is dangerous. It’s better to stay stationary and enjoy all the things the lake house has to offer – and that’s what I did for the next two days.
With beers, shots, and margaritas, of course.