Mar 7, 201301:09 PM
Running In Fog: HeartLand Boating Humor
Melanie's First Date
I think there’s a tattoo on my forehead that says “talk to me.” Everywhere I go, people tell me stuff. All sorts of stuff. I don’t know why…maybe they think I’ll be a good listener, which I try to be.
Take right now, for instance. I’m sitting in the Subaru dealership getting the oil changed and the tires rotated on my Outback. The lady sitting next to me is named Melanie. She saw the sailboat charm on my necklace and began to talk to me.
“My first date was on a boat,” she began by way of introduction. She had one finger pointed at my necklace, and the other hand was holding a paperback.
“Hmmm,” I answered, noncommittally, smiling and listening.
“I met him on Key Largo,” she continued, “It was like a Jimmy Buffett moment. The sun was setting. We were both walking on the beach. It turns out he was from the Sarasota area. For our first date, he took me boating on the Gulf."
I turned my attention to her completely. “Really? What kind of boat?”
“What kind of boat? Most women ask what the guy looked like.”
Busted. “Well,” I begin, trying to wiggle out of it, “I figure he HAD to be a really good looking guy, so I was wondering about the boat.”
She smiled, apparently placated. “Um, it looked kinda like a big floating bathtub. You know, just a boat with nothing really in the middle. Carolina something…SKIFF, that’s it. A Carolina Skiff. About 20 feet long, maybe longer. I don’t remember.”
“And were you fishing or sunning or what?”
“He was fishing. I was sunning. We just thought it would be nice to spend the day on the water. And it was so nice, we were laughing and talking and he brought a big lunch.” Then, her face changed from happiness to something else.
“Uh, what happened out there? Did the boat leak? Big freak wave? Sudden storm?”
Oh, this was getting interesting. “Sharks? Like Jaws?” I helpfully hummed some of the theme song.
“Smaller than Jaws, but there was more than one and they looked big enough to me. But that wasn’t the worst part.”
Sharks were NOT the worst part? It was the first time I’d ever heard THAT sentence.
“What could be worse than sharks? Did your date have bad breath or something?”
“Ha, ha. No. Just as the sharks were starting to circle the boat, my date told me not to move. He said to sit perfectly still, to absolutely freeze…do not move a muscle, do not turn around.”
“I thought you said it was a fun day on the water. What was behind you? Moby Dick?”
“He got up and carefully made his way to the back of the boat. He took an emergency oar with him.”
“Did the engine conk out? Was it on fire?”
“Nope. Engine was fine. Water moccasin.”
“Oh yeah. So, now I had a really interesting choice. Stay in the boat and maybe get bitten by a poisonous snake or jump overboard and get devoured by sharks.”
“And you chose….”
“Well, I was trying to figure out how much the sharks would be able to bite off. You know, in order to properly weigh my options.”
“How many sharks?”
“Five, I think.”
“Five sharks versus one snake?”
“I REALLY hate snakes. Sharks aren’t poisonous. And maybe they weren’t hungry.”
By this time, I was staring at her in disbelief. Sharks versus a snake. That’s a really bad place to be. “It sounds like the sharks would have been sudden death.”
“I was thinking the snake was sudden death. We weren’t very far from shore. I was a pretty fast swimmer. I thought maybe I’d have a chance.”
“Okayyyyy.” Who thinks they can honestly outswim a shark? “It is a tough choice there, Melanie. Obviously, you have all of your arms and legs. So, you chose the snake?”
“In a fit of super-human heroics, my date somehow got the oar under the snake and flipped it overboard. Then, it really was sharks versus snake. I didn’t watch the outcome. I just started screaming.”
“And the date? What happened to him?”
“First date and last date. If I go on a date only to be confronted by a bunch of sharks and a poisonous snake, that seems to be a pretty big sign that I’m not in the right place nor with the right person.”
“Ms. McDanolds, your car is ready.”
“Huh? Oh, thanks.”
I said goodbye to Melanie, paid for my car and left. When I turned on the radio, Jimmy Buffett was on…and visions of sharks swam through my head.