It was going to be a nice day: breakfast of challah French toast topped with fresh picked strawberries, a trip to a warehouse full of shabby chic furniture, a pit stop at a garage sale that had fishing rods and tackle, and then renting a boat on a local reservoir so we could take our son out fishing, his new favorite pastime.
But there’s the description of the day and the reality of it. From the minute we got to the warehouse, my son kept saying, “Mommy, when are we going to the yard sale?” “Can we go to the yard sale now?” “Is it time to go to the yard sale yet?” “Mommy, it’s time to go now. Let’s go to the yard sale.”
We bought an old farm sink and headed over to the yard sale but found it wasn’t really a yard sale. It was a guy cleaning out his garage, and he had lined up all his old fishing rods and tackle by the roadside to see if he could get any nibbles, so to speak. We bit. Thirty dollars later, we had a freshwater rod, a new tackle box – we probably paid more for it than it would have cost at WalMart – and got a fishing lesson on how to set up a line with sinkers and fishing swivels. We then headed out to the reservoir to put our new knowledge and equipment to use.
On the way there, my husband said, “My cell phone is out of juice.”
“Do you have a charger?” I asked.
“In my car,” he said.
“Oh,” I said.
“Why?” he asked.
“Why? People should always travel with a charged cell phone,” I said.
“I have a charger in my car and one in the house,” he said, defensively.
“Fine, but that’s not what I asked,” I said. “I just wanted to know if you had a charger on you.”
“I usually charge it at home, but I couldn’t find my charger last night,” he said. “Remember, I asked you where my charger was?”
“Why are you getting so defensive?” I asked. “All I wanted to know was whether you had a car charger on you, so you could charge your phone right now, in the car.”
“Well, then why did you say, ‘People should have charged phones on them.’?”
“Because when I asked you if you had a charger on you, and said, ‘Why?’ So I answered,” I said.
“I didn’t ask you ‘Why?’ “ he said. “Why would I ask you, ‘Why?’ That doesn’t even make sense.”
“You’re kidding me, right?”
Our son was in the back seat as we argued. Sadly, he’s accustomed to it. Perhaps there was a time when he thought all the arguing and animosity was his fault, but by now, he probably understands his parents are just asinine and that in between all the discord, they sometimes like each other.
We arrived at the reservoir and rented a row boat for an hour. They handed us life jackets and sent us to boat #14. We walked down to the dock, and the three of us piled into the boat, along with our two fishing rods, a canvas bag filled with boxes of bait and tackle and a couple of long sleeve shirts that we clearly didn’t need as it was really hot. I like to be prepared for anything.
The oars were attached to the boat through metal rings that swiveled, though there seemed to be something tenuous about the way they were attached. Every time my husband rowed, the ring on the right side of the boat side would jam for a moment before moving forward, as if the ring was being forced to swivel in a direction it didn’t want to go.
“I want to try something,” I said, and reversed the oars, thinking maybe the last renter had put them in backwards. The swivel mechanism worked a little better initially but after a few strokes, it began to jam again. The problem wasn’t that the oars were inserted into the wrong holes. It was that the swivel mechanism was broken.
Despite the clunkiness of the oars, we made it out toward the center of the reservoir and began to fish. As time went on, my husband noticed how far we had drifted from the boat house, and he suggested we start rowing back.
“I’ll take care of it,” I said. “You fish.”
I tried to row the boat toward the boathouse but I couldn’t turn it around in the right direction. The broken swivel mechanism made it difficult to turn the boat back around toward shore, and every time the oar got stuck, the boat would turn back in the wrong direction. There was a light breeze making the boat drift farther from shore, and the longer it took me to turn the boat around, the farther we drifted.
Frustrated watching my efforts, my husband said, “Let me row.”
“I got it,” I said.
I continued to try to right the boat, to no avail.
“I don’t know why this is so hard,” I said.
I could feel my husband breathing down my back. “Fine. You do it,” I said, moving out of the way.
My husband handed me his fishing pole and tried to turn the boat around. He managed to row a couple of feet. I was watching so intently, I didn’t realize I wasn’t holding the fishing rod he’d handed me until the line snagged onto something in the water and as the boat moved forward, the rod quickly went overboard. We were so focused on getting back to shore, the loss of the rod went largely unnoticed.
With every row, the swivel on the oar continued to jam, and with the wind, we were barely making any headway. My husband gave a few strong heaves and suddenly, the metal ring snapped in two.
“Great,” he said. “Now we’re never going to get back.”
“Don’t say that!” I said. I was beginning to share my husband’s despair.
“Mommy, can I fish?” my son asked.
“We can’t use the oar like that?” I asked my husband.
“I was having trouble getting us back before, and now, we have a broken oar,” he said.
Realizing we were going back, my son said, “Mommy, I don’t wanna go back! I want to catch a fish!”
“Eddie, we’re trying to get back to shore,” I said. I was beginning to panic.
“But I don’t wanna go back to shore!” he said.
“We’re stuck out here,” my husband said, throwing in the towel.
“I wanna catch a fish!” my son said.
“Will you both shut up! Just shut up!” I said.
“Don’t talk to me like that!” my husband snapped.
We are clearly a family that handles stress with decorum and composure.
“I’m going to call the boat rental place,” I said, pulling my cell phone out of my pocket. The number was so clearly stamped on the inside of the boat, it made me wonder just how often these boats break.
“We’re stuck,” I told the man who answered the phone.
“Where are you?” he asked.
“I don’t know. The middle of the reservoir.”
“I’ll find you,” he said.
The man on the phone was soon approaching us in a motor boat. I waved my hands wildly to make sure he saw us. The man tied our little boat behind his, and as we headed toward the shore, I hung my head in shame as we passed the other boaters, because we were having to be towed back. But I also felt a little satisfied, knowing that no matter how defensive my husband got as we argued earlier in the car, my underlying point was right: people should always travel with a charged cell phone.