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Tuesday, September 05, 2006
 
"Let's Get It Up"

Some time ago I was chatting with a friend of mine who also happened to be an ex-girlfriend. The conversation had turned to relationships and how a person should behave while in one. Specifically we were talking about how important thoughtful acts - even small ones - can be in maintaining a rewarding and fulfilling love affair. Most of us have experienced the warmth that fills us when someone we care about does something that shows how well they know you.

At some point in this conversation I somehow managed to suggest that _I_ was particularly considerate in this respect. My ex responded with something like, "no your not. In all the time we dated I can't remember a particularly thoughtful thing you ever did for me."

I was stunned -- partially by my own stupidity. I mean, it's probably not the best idea to ask an ex (no matter how friendly you are with her) for a report card on your boyfriend-behavior. At the same time I had no way to refute her claim. My mind was sorta spinning. Like most people, I assumed I was an excellent parnter. What was worse: I was being criticized for being deficient in one of the areas I assumed I was particularly strong in.

I couldn't muster a response. My mind was totally blank. Maybe I WAS totally thoughtless. After some long, awkward, moments I managed to bring up a few counter-examples but they were quickly shot-down for one reason or another. I left the conversation feeling angry, hurt, and humiliated.

This sort of thing can happen though. Every now and then we come face-to-face with a version of ourselves that is totally opposite from the person we believe us to be -- Like some sort of bizzaro-world, evil-twin.

***

This weekend I spent some time north of the grapevine, south of Bakersfield, and kinda in the middle of nowhere at a waterski ranch. The Vittitoes - longtime family friends of mine - have a place to sleep and a ski-boat there, along with plenty of hospitality. Their daughter Danika (who's my age)was there, along with her boyfriend Matt, and college pal Alex. The Vittitoes youngest Chase was also around. It was a fun little group. Here's the cast:

Danika: Smart, likes to read law-books, enthusiastic and passionate, empathetic. I've known her my whole life.

Alex: Big. This was brought up over and over again. He also was totally amiable, down for anything, good natured kinda guy -- definitely the coolest Olympic discus thrower / bobsledder I have ever met.

Matt: Quick-witted and sarcastic. He smiles a lot, talks easily about most anything, and drove the boat. He is also something of a Bakersfield local and was able to show us a couple "hot spots" in town.

Chase: Chase hasn't washed his hair in like a month or something so I didn't get too close to him. Actually that's not true (about not getting too close I mean). Chase is the Vitittoe baby and the only one left in the nest (mostly). He's a die hard surfer, earnest, and a hell of a inner-tube rider.

Craig and Suzanne: Mom and Dad. The closest thing I have to a second set of parents. Their only annoying quality is that they refuse to let me help pay for stuff.

Before I continue I should say a word about the Waterski lake itself. It's a slightly strange place. Well...maybe not strange...but definitly unexpected. It reminds me a lil of a Japanese garden. Japanese gardens always seem to be about control. About humans taking something that is generally chaotic and unpredictable and forcing it into a particular and deliberate standard of beauty.

The waterski lake is like that. It's in the middle of the California desert. Surrounded by agriculture. There should be no bodies of water here. Yet...There it is. Electric blue water (some call it "toilet-bowl blue") laps up against shores adorned with carefully cropped lawns of neon green grass and big shady trees. It doesn't make much sense...But it's really quite pleasant.



We arrived on Saturday afternoon and I was really chompin at the bit to get in the water and do some skiing. While I used to do quite a bit of it in my youth, I rarely get the chance to now-a-days. Within a few hours of my arrival I was floating in "lake one" with a ski strapped to my feet and waiting for the boat to surge into action and lift me out of the water.

My first attempt was a no-go. I struggled against the pull of the boat for a moment or two before the rope left my hands.

"no big deal" I thought. Just a lil rusty. I'll get it the second time.

Only I didn't get it the second time. Or the third. Or the fourth. Or the fifth.

By the end the rope was just flying out of my hand the moment the boat started moving. Not only was I extremely frustrated...But I was suddenly THE cheesy metaphor for a viagra ad. I mean really...I could NOT get it up. Each time the motor roared to life, and the rope flew out of my hands I could hear an announcer say, "If you have a problem getting or keeping an erection, your sex life can suffer. So don't miss the boat on this special offer...Talk to your doctor today".

At one point, Craig drove the boat by and asked, "would you like to try two skis?" He was trying to be helpful...But inside I was furious. "I don't NEED two skis." I thought, "I'm GOOD at this". It was like having your lover you look at you - eyes filled with fake concern in an attempt to mask the shame - and say, "maybe we should just use the vibrator tonight".

I tried two skis anyway...It didn't help. I was face-to-face with a bizzaro me. A pathetic and weak evil twin who was an idiot out in the water.

The next day I streched out my forearms, pounded some advil, and made a second attempt. At first ilooked a lot like I did the previous day. But on the second pull I crammed my thumb down over my fingers, grit my teeth, and finally managed to get myself out of the water.

I wasn't so much happy as I was relieved. My triumph was short lived however. Whatever I had done wrong the first day (I suspect I had tried to start with my arms bent rather than straight which puts tremendous strain on them) had pretty much ruined me. The rope was constantly slipping away from me and I couldn't maintain a solid grip long enough to execute any turns.

Ah well. I ended up being able to handle some wakeboarding at least -- that's always fun. The highlight (in terms of watersports) for me ended up being the tubing which shredded my hands and demolished what was left of my ability to hold on to anything but was completely fun and totally worth it.

So despite my failure out in the water the weekend was a really a blast. I always love hangin' with the Vittitoes and Danika's friends were great. We played some cards, ate great food (including a family-style Basque place), played some tennis, got plenty of sun, and got to rock-out in Bakersfield. Pretty freakin great. I can't wait to go back.

(more pics here)

-E

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