A kayak? This landlubber’s good on the dock, thanks
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/07/2022 (191 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
I was stretched out on the couch in the den the other morning when, suddenly and without warning, the dogs began barking at something on the other side of the living room window.
What with being a semi-retired crusading newspaper columnist, I bravely peered out the window, which is when I spotted a large cardboard box that had been deposited on our front porch.
“I wonder what that could be?” I muttered to the dogs, before wandering outside to retrieve the mysterious package, which I was hoping might contain something useful, like a year’s supply of frozen steaks for my barbecue.
Which is when my wife, She Who Must Not Be Named, arrived at the front door and began burbling — even though she is not normally a burbler — with excitement.
When she eyeballed the box, her eyes grew to the size of manhole covers and, with unfettered joy, she blurted: “OH GOODIE! MY KAYAK IS HERE!!! MY KAYAK IS HERE!!!”
What with being a highly trained journalist, I knew just what to say. “A kayak?!! What the (bad word) are you talking about, dear?” I grunted as my vision of free steaks landing on the doorstep began to fade.
Ripping the box out of my arms, my overly excited spouse chirped in explanation: “I used our Air Miles to order an inflatable 10-foot kayak!”
It would be difficult, using mere words, to explain how excited my wife was in this moment, but I will make a valiant attempt: she was very, very, very excited.
“I can’t believe it’s here,” she gushed, ripping open the box to ogle her new toy. “I’ve always wanted a kayak. And it’s inflatable so I can put it in the trunk and we won’t need to put a huge roof rack on top of the car.”
This seemed like a good moment to point out the obvious. “You know,” I told my wife, “that thing is never going to fit into our inflatable swimming pool in the back yard.”
Which is when my spouse gave me “The Look” — and all you veteran husbands know what I’m talking about — then laughed a cruel little laugh and replied: “Very funny, dear. I’m going to take it to the lake and kayak with my friends. Now I won’t have to borrow their husbands’ kayaks.”
For those of you who might not have read one of my informative and educational columns before, I should point out that I am not what you would call a kayaking kind of guy. When I retired from full-time column writing in December, I dreamed about doing a lot of things, but paddling a kayak wasn’t one of them.
Other than looking after our new granddaughter, my basic retirement goals include spending as much time on the couch as humanly possible while watching Star Trek reruns on the big-screen TV and eating Haagen-Dazs banana peanut butter chip ice-cream directly from the container.
In contrast, my outdoorsy wife, who retired about a month ago, takes a markedly different view of how to fill our so-called golden years, which explains how the three-metre inflatable kayak came to land on our doorstep.
Her first encounter with kayaking came years before we got married, when she was enrolled in Outward Bound’s mountaineering school in the B.C. interior, where her instructor and buddy was legendary climber Laurie Skreslet, the first Canadian to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
I personally have nothing against kayaks, but the problem is you are expected to use them in the outdoor environment, which (and I have this on good authority) is where the majority of things that can kill you — bears, mosquitoes, snakes, murder hornets, large ants and the majority of Winnipeg motorists — are located.
I just don’t think kayaking is for everyone. For example, I don’t think it’s a good idea for sane people. I tried explaining this to my wife as she dragged her new kayak outside and began inflating it with the little hand pump that was included in the box.
“I don’t expect you to go kayaking with me,” she said in the calm sort of voice you would use when explaining a complex concept to a house plant. “While I’m kayaking, you can just sit on the dock and read one of your books.”
It would be pointless for me to argue with my wife about being abandoned on a dock, because — and anyone who has seen me wandering the frozen food aisle at Safeway will know this to be true — I am not designed to fit into your standard kayak.
When it comes to pleasure boating, I am more comfortable with the European river cruise my wife and I hosted in 2016, an event wherein the most strenuous activity I engaged in was removing the corks from complimentary wine bottles.
Unlike my wife, I will not be paddling my way through the wind and waves of Manitoba’s rugged wilderness, but I am doing my best to get on board with the program.
In fact, right now, as she finishes inflating her kayak, I’m bravely heading out to get supplies for our first expedition — a couple of murder mysteries and about a dozen frozen steaks should do the trick.
Doug has held almost every job at the newspaper — reporter, city editor, night editor, tour guide, hand model — and his colleagues are confident he’ll eventually find something he is good at.