Sunday, June 04, 2006

Tubing Twins

My wife's twin sister was in town this week. My father-in-law had outpatient surgery and my nurse-in-law came to supervise. Things went well and the girls asked me to take them "tubing" behind my boat.

Now, my boat, Semper Fish, is a fishing machine. It lives to fish. It sends messages to me in my dreams when I haven't taken it fishing in a while. It does not like to be seen doing anything but fishing. It does not like women, and often refuses to allow any fish to be caught when there is a female aboard. When I put it in the water for our "tubing" session, Semper Fish knew it was not going fishing. It felt the absence of rods in the holders and bait in the live well and it balked, refusing to crank. When it finally relented, it sulked for five minutes; sputtering across the bay like an old man creeping out to the mailbox at the end of the driveway. By the time we got to the tubing spot, it sensed an opportunity and began to purr like a lion at a fresh kill.

Tube in the water. Twins in the water. Twins (49 going on 11) wrestle with each other for 15 minutes trying to get situated in the tube, and then, in unison, announce, "Now go slow."

Semper Fish was embarrassed enough to be pulling a tube instead of prowling the bay in search of prey. It was not going to "go slow." I eased the throttle forward gently and Semper Fish responded like a thoroughbred breaking from the starting gate. The tow rope snapped taught so violently that drops of water launched into the atmosphere have yet to return to earth. The tube literally leaped into the air, an action that was made much easier by leaving its cargo behind.

Another 15 minutes of water wrestling and the girls were back aboard the tube for another try. This time Semper Fish responded correctly to my gentle application of power and the tube wallowed in the wake for a while before planing out and bringing smiles to the faces of my beautiful bride and her ugly twin sister. I gently applied more power and began a series of slow circles and figure eights that brought the tube skimming out to port and then bouncing across the wake to skim on calm water out to starboard. The girls were yelling and had their teeth clenched in that funny little way they do when I am... I mean they are having fun.

Semper Fish endured my careful maneuvering for several laps and then took over. Responding to an infinitesimal application of a little more power and a little tighter turn of the steering wheel, Semper Fish roared into a tight series of S maneuvers which slung the tube from side to side. The girls responded with yells of delight and encouragement to apply more power.

There is a line drawn for most activities, beyond which the laws of physics step in and remind you of the order of the universe. The tube was returning nicely from one of its swings out to port, when a rogue wave appeared from nowhere and placed itself astride the path of the tube. The leading edge of the tube, rather than riding up and over the wave, dug in. The rest seemed to occur in slow motion, and...excuse me...I am...laughing too hard at...the recollection...to type... The picture of two middle-aged women, spread-eagle, somersaulting across the water is one that will forever be ingrained in a favorite wrinkle in my grey matter.

When I pulled the boat back around to allow them to climb back aboard the tube, they let the tube glide past and motioned for me to bring the boat closer. I idled up beside them and cut the engine. They clambered aboard so fast that for a moment I thought maybe they had seen a shark and I reached for a weapon with which to defend myself...I mean, them. Once aboard, the girls sat silently, obviously overcome with the thrill Semper Fish and I had just provided them. Then they both recovered and asked, simultaneously, in the way only twins can, "Why did you do that?"

I caught my breath and wiped the laughter tears from my eyes and gave my standard reply, "What?"

They had recovered enough to scowl at this point. One scowl is bad enough. Twin scowls will send even the most hardened man to the farthest room in the house, and I was stuck on a boat with them. Their tone switched from query to accusatory, "You did that on purpose!"

"Girls," I countered defensively, "when you skimmed out to the sides, you were hollering for me to 'go faster!'"

From the pretty little mouth of the love of my life, a mouth from which I can count on one hand the times I have heard any foul language in 30 years of marriage, came the reply: "We were yelling 'You bastard!'"

Well, see if Semper Fish and I take you out tubing again anytime soon!
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