June 27, 2013 by Manny Wordsmith
As summer begins to heat up and people rush out to their boats to enjoy the cool winds and bright sun, I would like to invite you to read about my first boating experience.
It was September 2006 and I was in New York with my Sister.
We were visiting my our favorite red-haired gal, Stefania, and her boyfriend (Now husband) Gus. Keep in mind that they were the ones who suggested we check out Central Park’s river system…by boat.
I had just survived a war in Iraq and I felt tough. Even though I had never touched a rowboat in my life. Something along the words of “Hell yeah!” or “Fuck yeah!” left my mouth after the idea was suggested. My poor sister went with it…unwillingly.
It was quiet, but shit, that rowing was hard. My sister was terrified most of the time, squeezing the sides of the boat for dear life. She didn’t like my rowing at all, but I had to finish. “There’s no ‘quit’ in ‘team’,” I thought. And even though my sister only made anxiety driven sounds and little screams, I believed that in her mind she was yelling out, “You can do it little bro! You can do anything!!” I was a war-hardened veteran, I didn’t think wood and a little water were scary enough things to stop me.
Girls, however, can.
I saw the two brunettes and I slowly began gravitating toward them. It had been awhile since I had roamed in the wild. Two weeks before that day, I was surrounded by girls with muscles and neck tattoos, girls that smelled like me and girls who kept their hair in perpetual ponytails. The pair I saw on the river looked pretty in a light, understated way. They both had their hair down and were smiling and giggling at one another. The rower had on a blue cardigan, while her friend wore a long-sleeve purple shirt. A bit bright for a fall afternoon but I dug it. I thought, “Let me just do a row by, strike a smile and get these girls to meet me up for coffee and paninis somewhere.”
Right until I got so close to their boat that our oars locked.
It was embarrassing. I went from a “Hi” to lots of “Whoa, whoa, whoa’s”.
The solution was easy. One of us needed to stop rowing so the other one could move. But her being a stubborn New Yorker, I assumed, and I being a soldier…a pig-headed, prideful solider, there was no compromise. So naturally, we both tried to strong-arm out of the lock.
“Oh shit I think we’re stuck.”
“Yeah we’re stuck.”
“Just let me, oh.”
“No I’ll just get it.”
“No, you have to stop so I can go.”
“I’ll go and you stop”
“What are you doing? JUST STOP!”
“I got this lady just wait a sec.”
After a little grunting and a few awkward facial expressions, I finally overpowered my oar out of the lock. I was proud for a second. And in that second I was a God, a triumphant savior, a young black Hercules, Carl Weathers in Action Jackson, Bruce fucking Lee! But after that second passed, I realized that my oar had swung up, splashing the young girl in the face with New York’s finest H2O.
I didn’t know an oar could hold so much water.
The girl was drenched. Her pretty long brown hair was smashed against her face. Her blue cardigan, ruined. And I’m pretty sure her mouth was open when it all went down.
I was so devastated that I could only mouth the words “sorry” as we flowed away for from each other.
Her friend, who was quiet during the ordeal, decided that I was worth freezing into a moment. So as we pushed away from one another, Miss Purple Shirt snapped a single picture of me looking sorrowful and beleaguered, so she may forever remember my amazing my boating skills.
My sister couldn’t contain her laughter at the end. In a way, knowing her younger brother was the smoothest ladykiller alive keep her mind off of the unsteadiness. I’m sure she snorted too. That felt like sort of a win to me.