Wake Bard



A poetish- type person who gets long-winded

Wake Bard. Not to be confused with Wakeboard. On second thought, GO AHEAD and confuse them. Here’s why. It really is exhausting to think in metaphors all the time. I would blame the constant daydreaming and jumpy thoughts of late on the heat. We southerners just dipped our big toe into May. Already, a walk to the mailbox renders the coiffure a bucket-sized humidity victim. We are working with temps near the 90’s down here already. And it’s not just here. The Boston Marathoners of mid-April received a dire warning from race officials the week of the big day that essentially said “Heat Kills”. It is going to be a hot one, folks. Almost everywhere. Why did I leave Colorado again?

This kind of impending heat on the Tennessee summer horizon drives a girl who prefers snowcapped, dry mountain air to daydream. To stare out the window at those trippy diffraction waves emanating from the asphalt and daydream

 …of water.

Lots of water…lake-sized water. I am an Aquarian, after all. And if you give a girl a lake, she’ll dream of a wakeboard. And if you give a girl a wakeboard, she’ll twist it right into some metaphor for life. Just typical. 

I remember the first time my friend towed me behind her family’s boat. I was maybe 13 years old. End of 7th grade. At the age where you giggle over the word condiment at the Wendy’s for twenty minutes straight…and shoot hamburger out of your nose all because condiment sounds like a condom derivative? Teenagers.

This friend had the patience of Job as my lake chaperone. She properly buckled me into the life jacket. I hadn’t planned to buckle it. I tried to refuse. Kinda like kids don’t tie shoelaces these days. I stood there like a five-year-old getting screaming OWww to noone in particular with every yank n’ cinch on that harness/vest.

I remember being slightly frightened by the aluminum pole signage posted prominently on the lake bank. The one that announced how many people had drowned in the lake that year. I remember wishing they would reset that sign to zero each month. I don’t remember how many people had died the year I stepped off the dock onto that boat for the first time but it was awfully close to double digits for so early in the season. What is life without a bit of legitimate fear pumping through the veins though? It was pumping.

We started my inaugural wakeboard experience with a demo of how to strap yourself onto the board . Where the heck were we in life before velcro? This childhood  friend was of the go-big-or-go-home variety. And there I was…a likely victim of any and all triple dog dares between the ages of 12-16. Birds of a feather flock together. 

I am sure that the rest of this story will fall into the anti-climactic category. I did not go to the hospital. I did not lose a bikini bottom to the dredges of the lake floor. That was another year. Mostly, I remember having no use of my arms for the entire week following. I also vividly remember how tricky it was to get and stay above water behind that boat.

The boat driver slowly engages the throttle and a boiling white wake churns up a few yards in front of you. It buries the rope that is your only tether to the boat before the line goes taut too fast and tests the integrity of a couple of your shoulder sockets. Well, you only have a couple. You get the idea. 

A rider can not lean too far forward without ingesting a gallon of non-potable lake water. You can not lean too far back without more of the same. You have to hold on. Tight. The whiter the knuckles, the better. You must ignore the spray spitting daggers into your corneas and nostrils with a force of a firehose. You must be ok with NOT seeing more than one foot in front of your face until you have cleared the surface and hit the plateau above. That’s a lot to ask for a control freak like me. I like to see more than a foot in front of me. At all times. Truth be told, I like to see a whole year out whenever possible.

But once you’re up on the board, you’re up. Talk about riveting. It’s a nice way to see the world from back there slicing through some glassy water. There are some unexpected jolts and the occasional round of bumps from other boat wake. You just tighten your grip, try to make those bumps fun, maybe even grow the guts to toss a thumbs-up to the boat driver. The one that signals go faster… No faster. The only time cocky is kinda cute. 

And how about riding in a straight line? It becomes difficult to hold it on the linear road for an eternity. Eventually, you will wanna branch out. Tour some new territory. Change up the scenery. Eventually, you will want to test some turns out there because you are adventurous that way. Right? I hope so. It starts when you throw your weight a little bit left. Then a little bit right. See how a little leaning feels. And you’ll bite it a few times. Hard. And then there’s that boat wake. Scary as hell looking the first time you decide to cross it. From up close, it is the last big kahuna that Bodhi caught at the end of Point Break. But here’s the thing about that wake. If you creep up to it, it will eat you alive.

You can’t tiptoe up to the wake. It will not reciprocate the kindness. You have to take it straight on. Try to tackle the wake sideways and let us know how that goes. The wake will laugh at you. And then leave you like a bad habit, a sorry buoy rubbing your bruised hip, head and ego. Straight on. That’s how you take the wake. Point and go.

The first time I finally ditched the fear of the wake, I started having a little fun. 24 years later, I still remember this as the very first time that I realized hesitation is sometimes no good. Hesitation is the foe. Sounds familiar, huh. Seriously, metaphor. Go away!

Years later, these types of little childhood vignettes keep circling around like that boat to collect me and to shove the reminder in my face. Speaking of boat spray, who wants to go to the lake? Most of all, who wants to go catch some ….. air? 





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