Have you ever had a brush with greatness? I have. But my story will have to wait. Today I am going to tell you about The Kid’s brush with greatness. Except she was completely unaware of it. Why? Because it wasn’t Katy Perry or Joe Jonas.
It was about 4 or 5 years ago and we were kayaking with good friends. We were in a beautiful place and enjoying the beautiful weather. It was peaceful. Up until our daughter lost control of her boat. And was heading straight into another boat.
I’ve seen the man in this kayak before. He looked familiar, with his baby face and trademark cap. Wait. That guy looks like…could it be…Opie? Richie Cunningham? Yes. The Kid literally rammed head-on into no other than Ron Howard himself. Of course, it wasn’t done gracefully. Oar flailing, pigtails bobbing and lungs screaming. No, not embarrassing at all.
Between giggles she managed to get out an apology. At least she used her manners. Mr. Howard could not have been nicer. He very gently told her that it was okay and that she was doing a good job. The rest of us? We all sat with mouths gaping. In total disbelief that Ron Howard and his wife were out on a Saturday afternoon kayaking in our local stream. Well, his local stream too, it turns out.
People around us were whispering about the famous man in the cap. Of course, these people were middle age. Like us. They all grew up with Richie and Opie. Anyone there at that moment under the age of 35 had no idea who he was. It was like our own little secret.
I remember thinking suddenly how proud I was of our kid. She can’t paddle a kayak, but she sure knows how to strum up some excitement. It was the topic of conversation for weeks. It still comes up from time to time. Hmmm, I suddenly realize I should probably get something else to talk about. Or have The Kid run into someone new.
Life is a comedy. I say so all the time. What would I have to write about if Life didn’t occur? That’s why sometimes you shouldn’t fight the opportunity to go on an adventure. Even if all the signs are pointing in the opposite direction.
The sign-up sheet said that space was limited. So, when I called last minute to get my family and me on the list to go on a guided 3-hour kayak paddle in the biggest swamp in New York, I was a bit worried. But the nice woman who answered the phone said that as long as we had our own kayaks and $56, it wouldn’t be a problem. 56 dollars? Man, this is going to be good.
Or so I thought.
The day started with only one alarm going off…the one in my head. 10 minutes before we had to leave. We had 3 clocks set. Somehow they all malfunctioned. The ultimate “stay in bed” sign from above.
When our tour guide showed up late and exited her vehicle, I swore I heard banjo’s dueling in the forest. Could it have been the men’s bathing suit trunks she was sporting or the missing teeth? Her Nina Blackwood voice or the Cigarette Eau de toilette that fragranced her? I’m worried The Kid may have permanent damage from second hand smoke based on just the stench permeating from this woman’s skin.
Her side-kick, who wasn’t going on the paddle with us because she was about 6 foot 7 in flats and “couldn’t fit” into a kayak on a good day, pulled up in a mini-van packed solid with them. One sticking out of every orifice. I was reminded of an overstuffed cigar box on wheels.
The minute I realized that we may have just misspent nearly 60 bucks is when our Official Tour Guide (OTG) started blowing up her kayak with a bicycle pump. That realization was confirmed when she entered the water with half a paddle. Her side-kick referred to it as a “Q-tip.” I was not amused.
When asked of our OTG where the swamp led to, the answer was — in her scratchy, smokey man-voice — “I don’t know.” You don’t know? This swamp runs 60 miles and has about a billion fingers to explore. Kayakers have been known to get lost here. Again, a scene from “Deliverance.” I was expecting a mountain man to jump out at any moment.
Our 3-hour tour lasted an hour and a half. Why cut short? OTG’s rubber dingy got caught up on a beaver’s dam forcing us all to turn around. I should feel blessed. At least at that point, we had the possibility of getting out of there without being the breaking story on the evening news.
A good friend of mine who has an inspirational Facebook page (Soul~Full at https://www.facebook.com/pages/SoulFull/189755914434112?hc_location=stream) — posted the following this morning. And I couldn’t sum it up better myself.
Regrets? Absolutely not. That memory will stay with us forever. We got a lot of laughter mileage out of it. What could be better than that? Well, perhaps a refund. I really could use a new pair of jeans.