I have an obsession with sailboats. I had a house full of artwork and photographs and models of sailboats. Usually sailboats in treacherous waters for some reason. Someday I am sure I will have that psychoanalyzed, but I have a sneaky suspicion it has something to do with the phrase “any port in a storm”. Either that or it is my obsession with the Canadian dime as further proof I should be Canadian (See this memorable post.)
Despite my sailboat fetish, I have a crippling fear of drowning. My fear of water is likely traced back to when I was about 7 years old, and nearly drowned in my aunt’s pool before my cousin saved me. Up to that point my mother and sisters tried to teach me to swim and gave up when I frustrated the hell out of them with my freakishly long arms that threw off my coordination. After the drowning incident I gave up on the lessons, and figured drowning would at least be a peaceful death.
Even though I grew up in a shoreline town surrounded by a river and Long Island Sound, I rarely went to the beach unless it involved drinking and a bonfire at night. Once in high school I did go out on a friend’s boat across the Sound to Long Island. I had no fear of drowning that night, probably because there was alcohol involved. Enough alcohol that I decided to flash one of the guys with us. Thank Buddha there were no smartphones back then. The only down side to the trip was when I got drunk and climbed out of the boat to pee on a bluff up a small hill. However, being quite drunk, I lost my balance and rolled down a hill bare-assed like a Long Island tumbleweed until I landed on a fluffy bed of poison ivy punctuated by the occasional thorn in sensitive areas. Fortunately, I was quite drunk on cheap vodka, the drink of choice for teenagers, and stumbled back to the boat. I enjoyed the trip home sitting in a lawnchair, my head hanging overboard like a dog out a car window, and living the good life. Then we struck a sandbar, halting the boat and sending me and said lawnchair hurtling through the air. Fortunately I did not land overboard, because not wearing my traditional floaties and being with other drunk friends, I’m pretty sure I would have sunk as if I were wearing cement flip-flops. I made it home and passed out, just in time to wake up with my nether regions itching from a raging case of poison ivy. [Editor’s Note: Yes, it was poison ivy. I have the records to prove it.]
That was the end of my boating adventures. Now I restrict myself to watching yachting on television. Not just because I feel some weird connection to sailboats, but also because most professional sailors seem to have hot accents. (It always comes down to that. Bet money on it.)
It isn’t just about the water, though. As a teenager, before the dreaded addition of the college freshman 17, I would go to the beach occasionally with my friends. They quickly learned to stop inviting me, because after 20 minutes my A.D.D. would kick in and I’d be begging to leave. Of course, nowadays the sun is so hot, 20 minutes turns you into a well done Porterhouse. Needless to say, my top vacation destination is not Hawaii. Norway. Norway is my speed. Somewhere that requires wearing layers and it rains a lot.
I am grateful now that my inner vampire requires me to shun the sun similarly to the way the Amish shun argyle prints. I look at least five years younger than others my age because I don’t have sun damage other than one sun spot I claim is a birthmark. Of course in recent years, the increase in alcohol consumption is starting to show itself. That’s ok. I’d rather look like a less wrinkly alcoholic. I don’t quite understand people who are obsessed with tanning, particularly in the dead of winter. You aren’t fooling anyone. You don’t look like you winter in the Australian Outback. You look like the Heat Miser from the “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” holiday special. Which isn’t a good look on anyone other than a troll doll that has been scalded with a crème brulee cooking torch.