“What is he doing with the radio?” Dale demanded.
I shrugged, not even bothering to look up. Well, down—I was gazing at the sky. “I dunno. Looking for music?”
“He stole it!” Dale pointed out.
I could have pointed out that Dale was in Skipper’s customary spot, but opted to stay out of this one. “Hey, it gets better reception down here,” Skipper pointed out, as he found an oldies song--"Hard Day's Night," to be specific.
“Keep it riiight there,” Dale told him as he fumbled for his phone. “I gotta get a video of this.”
I laughed—I knew exactly what he was talking about. I leaned back again to enjoy the eighty-degree day, wishing the water was a little warmer than the 32.5 degrees Fahrenheit it was currently at.
“See, this is why we like taking you out on the lake,” Dale told me as he finished his panoramic sweep of the boat.
I was feeling too lazy to even attempt to make the obvious joke about me buying gas. (I’d beaten Dale to the register earlier.) “Why’s that?”
“Because you get it,” Dale expounded.
“Just reliving the old days,” Skipper chimed in.
I did get it. We were on a 1956 Crestliner, powered by a ’63 Evinrude, listening to sixties swing on the transistor radio Noah probably had on his ark. The only really modern thing that was currently with us was Dale’s phone, and I figured we wouldn’t have that for much longer—if he kept gesturing with it, it was going to end up in the drink.
I stretched a little and took in the view. It was, admittedly, gorgeous. The leaves were just beginning to change, as benefited the norm for late September; the day was warm, which was decidedly not the norm, but I wasn’t going to complain. Also, we pretty much had the lake to ourselves.
We sat in mostly silence, punctuated by brief, half-hearted disputes about which station to listen to next and whether the AM stations needed the antenna or not. (They did.) After about a half an hour, Dale stretched.
“We should probably get in one last round of waterskiing,” he suggested. “This might be the last good day for it.”
I looked at the water. “You first,” I offered. Dale and I had each done a round before Skipper had joined us, and, while waterskiing was fun as always, the preliminary dunking of my kiester in cold water had elicited a shriek from me at an octave I didn’t know my vocal cords had been capable of making.
“Sure thing,” Dale agreed, making a weird hissing sound as he wrapped the still-freezing life jacket around his torso.
“Skipper, you should probably drive,” I added.
“You got it,” Skipper nodded, finally popping up off of the back bench seat. “Why, you don’t want to?”
“It would probably be easier for Dale to ski if I wasn’t driving,” I explained. “Last time, I forgot to check which direction the motor was pointing before throttling up. ‘Bout spun us in a circle.”
Skipper laughed as he took the wheel. “Yeah, I’ve done that a few times myself.”
“Remember, take off quick,” Dale ordered as he prepared to lower himself in.
“Basically, don’t let you sit around freezing?” I joked.
Dale glared at me. “Exactly. YAAH—that’s cold!”
I couldn’t help laughing as Dale hung half in and half out of the boat. “Want me to push you in?”
“Don’t you DARE,” Dale threatened me as he dropped the rest of the way. He took the cold water with more grace that I anticipated that I would. “Skipper, start it up!”
Skipper moved the boat forward; Dale had his ski on in record time and was waiting impatiently even before Skipper got the line tightened. “You ready?” Skipper yelled.
“SKI OR FLEE!” Dale yelled back.
I’d never seen him get out of the water that fast once the boat started moving. I think he defied physics.Skipper took the boat on a long looping course around the edge of the lake, where the water was calmest. Dale did pretty well until the rope somehow snagged on the engine. The ensuing jerk of it coming free took the rope out of Dale's hands. He handled that gracefully, sliding to a halt in the water while Skipper brought the boat back around to pick him up.
Surprisingly, Dale opted for the path of greatest frigidity and requested the rope back. After a few mishaps with miscommunication (Dale missed the rope the first time around), the skier was back up, the captain was dragging him around the lake, and the spotter in the copilot's chair was completely forgetting that he was supposed to be watching for mishaps out the back and was enjoying the lake scenery.
Fortunately, I wasn't so enamored with the view that I missed the big splash when Dale finally decided he was done.
"I think it was warmer where I wiped out!" Dale complained as I got the ladder set for him to climb back aboard. "You wanna go again?"
"Sure, but maybe we should go back to where it was warmer?" I suggested hopefully as I accepted the life jacket from him. A moment later, I squeaked a little. "Geez, didn't you warm this up at all?"
"There's probably not that much difference between there and here," Skipper pointed out. "Dale probably just got warmed up."
I shrugged and checked the skis, handing them to Dale. "Whichever, I suppose. I'm gonna freeze my kiester off again anyway. What the--dude, don't throw them in!"
Dale had automatically chucked the skis overboard for me. The slight wind set them on a leisurely drift towards the stern. He grinned. "Oops, guess you're gonna have to swim for it. Better get in quick."
"Ahh, shut it," I muttered, lowering my legs into the liquid ice and hissing at the cold. "You may have to push me in."
"Really?" Dale asked with entirely too much eagerness.
"No," I snorted. "You can just stay over there."
Dale reached out, probably to pat me on the head. I have a bit of a thing about people messing with my head, so I hurled myself backwards off the boat. "Get your flea-picking paws away from meeEEEEE!!!"
That last word scaled up to an octave I had no idea that I could produce, and definitely outside the range the human ear was designed to pick up. This was probably a good thing, because I dropped several expletives that I was really hoping the twins wouldn't pick up.
"Cold?" Dale asked, grinning.
I yanked the skis on my feet so fast I thought I gave myself a friction burn. "I GOT THE ROPE GET A MOVE ON HOLY *BLEEP* IS THIS COLD!!!!"
Skipper tightened the rope up. "Are you rea--"
"SKI OR FLEE ALREADY!!!!" I shrieked.
There was a helpful tip that Dale always told me: stay in the ball in the water until the boat was up to speed. Well, screw that. I popped up almost instantly, trusting the boat's motor to keep going. Fortunately, it did. Whew. I started doing a little victory jig and almost fell over.
I started zig-zagging back and forth across the wake again, pulling goofy stunts (like "Tebowing," the splits, and crouching so low I was almost sitting down) until Skipper put the boat into a turn. I tried to stay in its wake, before remembering something. Skipper was driving, and he liked turning hard. I flew out to the side. Whoops.
Fortunately, it wasn't too hard to recover, and I made it without wiping out. I managed to snag a leaf on the way to the next turn, holding it up for boat inspection and dropping it as Skipper made a hard left. I cut hard, trying to get behind and inside the boat, so when it turned hard, I'd be...able...to...
...okay, he took this one slower.
The rope got so slack, it hit the water. I slowed down; leaning back, I tried to keep the tips of my skis above the water. (I'd learned the hard way what would happen if I got them caught underwater. Think really fast faceplant.) Skipper throttled up, but fortunately not hard enough to yank the rope out of my hands...and a few seconds later, I was back up!
However, now I was tired, so I rode the wake back over to where Dale had wiped out earlier and bailed. What do you know--the water did seem warmer over here.
"Nice recovery," Skipper greeted me as he pulled the boat up.
"Yeah, did you see the rope hit the water?" I asked, kicking my skis off and passing them up to Dale.
"That's why I didn't take off too fast. I figured that'd help," Skipper explained.
"You wanna turn?" I suggested mischievously as I began boarding.
"I don't think he's gonna," Dale laughed.
"No swim trunks," Skipper explained with the cheerful air of one who would be keeping his kiester in a relatively unfrozen state.
"I could lend you mine," I joked.
Dale laughed. "Well, we should probably get back for dinner."
"Mind if we go cruising for a bit first?" Skipper asked.
"Hey, fine by me," I shrugged, grabbing a towel and trying to dry off.
Once Dale had the gear stowed, Skipper started the motor and we cruised out onto the middle of the lake. I couldn't help grinning. "I gotta get me a boat. Whaddaya think, Dale?"
"THIS IS THE LIFE!!!" Dale whooped.