Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lazy Sunday # 124: Telephone Road

backyard pool

Father's Day always gets you thinking of your own dad and sidetracks most of us into recalling the times when we were primarily "fathered".

Maybe it was that which inspired today's sermon. Maybe it was seeing a dour TV news report from rain drenched Saskatchewan about police cracking down on the dangerous sport of "Ditch Boarding", better known in some parts as White Trash Water Skiing.

The concept is about as simple as simple minds can devise. Find a flooded ditch. Strap on a snowboard, wakeboard, surfboard or set of skis, grab a tow line tied to the back of a pick-up truck and --- "Yee-haw".

ditch boarding

Yeah, it's a little dangerous and sometimes people even get killed. And while that's unfortunate, it's also a part of a lot of approved and organized sports as well as falling into the category of departure Bill Hicks described as "We're Missing a Moron".

My own Ditch Boarding adventures took place my last year of high school. After a too long winter cooped up in classroom and living in a city where 15" of annual precipitation (mostly in the form of snow) was the norm. You had to expect that the first hot day after torrential rains would cause some to see what could be made of all this exciting and unexplored standing water.

Inspired by Beach Boys records and too many Annette Funicello movies, some of us decided to replicate Malibu Beach at the edge of a lonely prairie road.

Unable to find anything to imitate a surf board, however, we ended up using a set of water skis, taking turns either skimming skillfully over the muddy water, scattering ducks and muskrats as we passed or getting dragged through thick black prairie topsoil.

An occasional vehicle would roll past, honking its horns or waving at the mud caked idiots charging through the ditch water. Then one car followed us for one of my runs and pulled over when we coasted to a stop. The driver got out. It was some guy none of us recognized. But I sure knew his passenger. It was my dad.

He'd been nearby when his car broke down and somebody had stopped to give him a ride back to the city. They'd noticed the odd activity on the side road as they passed and came back for a closer look.

I thought I was dead for sure.

My dad just stared at me tightly as we explained how the whole thing worked, doing all we could to deflect any possibility that it could be construed as dangerous, illegal or even just plain stupid. Neither he or the other guy said anything.

I knew I was looking at a grounded Prom night at best.

Then I noticed my dad kicking off his shoes and rolling up his pants.

"Let's give it a try."

We spent the next hour towing he and his Good Samaritan friend up and down the waters beside that lonely road. By the time they'd had enough they were just as muddy as we were, almost as sunburnt and grinning ear to ear.

As they got in the car, my dad reminded me that dinner was at six and I better have the mud washed off before I came home. Then he added, "One more thing. Don't tell your mother."

I believe that was the moment when I realized my father would no longer treat me as a kid.

Most of our memories of our fathers are tied up in the sweetness of our youth and one of my favorite songs about growing up (maybe because it so closely replicates the experiences of my own era) is Rodney Crowell's "Telephone Road". Oddly it also includes Ditch Boarding.

Have a Great Father's Day. And Enjoy your Sunday.


Anonymous said...

Great story, thank you for sharing it.

deborah Nathan said...

Being from the big city, we would do that on sleds down steep driveways. The idea was to wait for a car to be approaching and then go, seeing how close you could come to being hit. It's a wonder any of us survived into adulthood.