Wednesday, July 28, 2010


When we go to the beach, I really get into it.  I close my eyes and, listening to the waves crashing to shore, I’m transported to tropical locales like Hawaii or Tahiti or Fred’s Fake N’ Bake Tanning Emporium.  Surrounded by palm trees and the enchanting smell of fragrant flowers, or Febreeze South Pacific #6, I relax hugely. 

Such was the case recently on the beach in Penticton.  We had brought all our swim toys, and I was trying out our new big green inflatable chair, complete with headrest. 

It was heavenly.  It was nap time.  I thought I had put sunscreen on my face.

Off I went, splashing into the water, lying back in the chair.  Ahhhhhh.  I was instantly far, far away, lounging in a tropical pool, enjoying peeled grapes and drinks in coconut shells.  Knowing the attentive staff would alert me to any danger from sharks or predatory flip-flop salesmen, I fell asleep.    

The sun blazed.  My sleep deepened as the waves rocked me gently.   A small rivulet of drool dried and formed a crusty line across my cheek, reminiscent of a Prussian dueling scar.

I stayed close to shore at first, my loud snoring amusing my family who eventually tuned out the noise with the help of a change in wind direction.  This change in the breeze also steered me away from shore, my body and the large chair acting as an effective sail.

Head lolled back, mouth agape, eyeballs twitching REMily, I drifted out to lake.

Past the swim platform, beyond the line of white marker buoys, out I went into the commercial shipping lanes.  Well, the parasail boat and yahoos on jet ski lanes, anyway.

Boaters who sighted me consulted their nautical manuals, confused as to what a bright red-over-green marker buoy indicated.  I was a hazard to navigation they were unfamiliar with. 

Eventually, someone overcame the smell of burning flesh and approached.

“Hey Mister! Cough! Cough!” a young boater hailed, hand waving in front of him.  “You okay?  Wake up!”

I came to and, using my finely honed sense of self-awareness, determined something was amiss.  For one thing, my head was the size of a basketball.  I could barely open my eyes – my face had become ridiculously swollen from sunburn and imminent heatstroke. 
I looked up through puffy slits and thought how rare it was to see vultures circling in this region.  I pried them open further and saw several pleasure boats close by.

“Hewwo!” I said.  My mouth wasn’t working properly.  It too was swollen. 

 “I theem to be thuffering from inflation!” I quipped.  “My mouf feelth funny, and I fink I thunbunned my dung thumhow.  Thith doth not feel too goob.” 

“Do you hab any watta?” I croaked through parched, swollen lips. 

Covered in fire extinguisher powder from a helpful boater, I paddled slowly back to civilization, using the backwards heat stroke common to floaty-chair occupants.  My horrifying facial igneousness helped part the crowds of swimmers on my way back to the beach

Coming in to shore I could hear my wife as she hushed the kids.  “Don’t stare at the red Elephant Man,” she said.  “Some people are born that way...”

As I stumbled closer to our section of beach my wife looked alarmed.

“Please don’t hurt the children.  Oh!  It’s you, Dear!   What in the name of God happened to your head?”

You know, I don’t put much stock in the story of Ogopogo, the lake monster supposedly lurking in the deep water here.  But I have a pretty good idea how these legends get started. 

Please pass the aloe.

1 comment:

P Shane McAfee said...

Somehow I cannot escape the image of you putting aloe on your tongue.