When a person thinks of a good old ass-kicking, images of Brad Pitt and Edward Norton duking it out in Fight Club may come to mind. Or maybe Sly Stalone in any of the Rocky movies. (Having never seen any of the Rocky movies, I’m just guessing.) Or maybe anything with Steven Seagal or The Rock.
When I Googled (yes, I’m aware that’s not actually a verb) “ass kicking” images, a boot with the toe pointed at a donkey appeared. Yes. Apparently Google is as literal as my father. (“Oh. When I said 11:00 pm sharp, you thought I meant 11:03 pm? Well, when I say you’re grounded for two weeks, I mean you’re grounded for 14 days. Any questions?”)
Well, speaking from experience, I have had my ass kicked many times. In sixth grade, Robbie T. kicked my ass in the spelling bee. I was one word away from the win. Okay, so maybe I was one word away from the win in my row. And then Ms. Smith (really, her name was Ms. Smith) asked me to spell “Czechoslovakia.” (Really the word was “lamppost,” but “Czechoslovakia” sounds better.) I sadly was not generous enough with the number of consonants necessary for my word, and so Robbie T. kicked my ass. My ass has also been kicked: in a spin class in college, while attempting to tile my front porch, grilling competitions, paddling up the pass to King’s Landing at Wekiva, and once playing HORSE. (I tried adding farm animals, but that didn’t help.) Those of you who know me I’m sure will remind me of all the other times, but for now, let’s just go with that tidy little list.
In all my experiences of having my ass kicked, I’d not once had my ass kicked by a kayak. Sadly, that has changed.
I’d been in the market for a kayak for, oh, about a year now. I’m not usually one for waiting a whole year to ponder a purchase, but when the purchase weighs more than the dog I had growing up as a kid and it won’t fit nicely in the backseat, logistics become an issue.
Then, on a random Tuesday, I stumbled across the solution to the weight and space issue a traditional kayak comes with. A two-piece kayak. A snap together, Tinker Toy, Lincoln Log-like kayak that breaks apart to where even a nice girl with the strength of a 12 year old boy can carry it. Genius!
The Decision: I decided on the two piece kayak versus the standard, non-lego-like model out of necessity because: a) I don’t know anyone who owns a kayak who actually uses it on a regular basis and wants to go kayaking with me, b) my friends who would like to go kayaking on a regular basis can’t really afford it as a full-time hobby, and c) my friends who can afford kayaking on a regular basis would rather spend their time in the A/C watching poker tournaments or movies. I love my friends. I think I may need some new ones. Logically thinking, in the meantime, it made sense for me to get the two piece kayak because I wouldn’t have help transporting that big ol’ piece of plastic from the garage to the car and then from the car to the water and then back to the car and garage again. I’m kinda tired even just thinking about that.
The Purchase: I had my eye on two different ones, one from Store A (LL Bean) and one from Store B (Cabela’s). When I went to buy the kayak last week (I realized summer was passing me by and I better get on it), Store B’s was on sale *and* it seemed to have a better design with two cargo areas, a rod holder, etc. Plus it was yellow…which isn’t my first choice, but I’m a girl so I care about these things, and the LL Bean one was red, and red would probably stress me out…so yellow was better than red.
The Homecoming: So, one day when I came home from work, I found two big boxes on my front porch. I was super excited – as you know, I’ve been waiting a long time to get a kayak (over 365 days!), and it was exciting to finally have it sitting on my front porch.
I was *so* excited that I dragged the boxes inside and started breaking them open with a kitchen knife while I was still wearing my (super cute) wedges and pencil skirt for work. After awkwardly wrestling with the plastic-wrapped pieces trying to get them out of the boxes the size of five foot, hefty adolescent boys who will one day play football for the University of Florida, I finally got a clue to kick my shoes off. I put the two pieces of plastic boat on the carpet in the front room of our house and tried to put it together.
After a few seconds, I came to the conclusion that I’d better read the directions so as not to break the dang thing before I’d had the chance to use it. The directions, of course, were in pictures with minimal words. Great. (Think Ikea directions, but worse.)
I “threaded” the one side into the other, went to the back, lifted it up, and “Snap!” – it was attached. Awesome. The directions then said to tighten the connection, but not too tight because then something (I clearly forget what it’s called) would probably break. I tried to tighten it, but I’m not super strong and nothing happened. (Thoughts of, “I think it will still float…” and “It could be a good thing I enjoy swimming so much…” ran through my head at that point.)
My enthusiasm would not be dampened, though! I sat right down in my kayak in my front room on the floor with my bare feet and pencil skirt. I, of course, didn’t have a paddle yet, so I just sat there smiling. Looking directly at my roommate’s golf clubs. Which were firmly planted on land…Clearly not where a kayak fits in best.
(Meanwhile, my cat, who’d quickly disappeared when the box-wrestling was occurring, came around the corner, sniffed the kayak, crawled in with me, and positioned himself right where the fishing rod would go. If only he knew…)
After looking at my roommate’s clubs and realizing me sitting on the floor in my new kayak was ridiculous, I had a genius idea. I’d make sure it would float in the pond out front! (I use the word “pond” generously. If you mentally add the word “retention” in front of “pond,” you will have a good indication of what I’m working with.) I quickly changed out of my skirt and into some workout clothes…just in case the kayak sank and tried to take me down with it… I got back to the kayak and was about to pick it up when I thought, “No. This is the whole reason I got this kayak. I need to take it apart first, take the pieces outside by the water, and then put it back together again.”
The Awakening: That’s when my enthusiasm kicked the bucket. I looked down at the contraptions holding the two pieces together and fear took over. Maybe you think I’m kidding. No. I couldn’t figure out how to separate the two pieces, and I didn’t want to mess with it too much because it specifically said, “Don’t break the thingamajiggies.” (Or whatever they’re called.)
I sat on the floor and looked at the thingamajiggies. I stood up and opened the (tiny) owner’s manual to see if I could find directions to break the pieces apart. There were directions. The directions? “Follow the directions to assemble kayak, but in reverse order.” Great. Just great. So helpful in this scenario where we have a timid girl with the strength of a celery stick and strong aversion to breaking new toys on the first day of use. Sure, those directions sound logical, but… I sat on the coffee table, head in my hands, looking at this big yellow contraption on the floor, and I *might’ve* wanted to cry.
The whole point of the stupid kayak was so that I could take it out on the water myself, and I couldn’t even take the stupid thing apart in the front room of my house. Sad.
**One pulled pork sandwich and frosty beverage later**
We all walk in the front door, and there’s the kayak in all it’s put-together glory. My heart sinks again as I remember my disappointment earlier. My roommate stoops down, assesses the situation, fiddles with the things, looks at the picture-book posing as a manual, fiddles some more, and then finally breaks the thing apart. We practice about seven times. He’s pleased with the thing. I think I hate it.
The next day, alone, I fought silently with the kayak again. Well, silently is an exaggeration. Four curse words, two broken nails, and one slice of “How many college graduates does it take to dismantle a two-piece kayak?” pie later, the kayak had officially kicked my ass. For the record, I’ve now practiced the gentle skill of putting the kayak together and taking it apart about fifty-six times. I think I have it down pat.
And so, while we certainly had a rocky start, I think the kayak is here to stay. The big cardboard boxes it came in have found a sweet little corner in the garage just in case. With people, it’s different. You know you have a “keeper” when you take off all the fancy packaging, twirl them around, and read the instruction manual a few times. With boats, well, you just never know.
**Photos courtesy of Cabelas.com, wwe.com, flickr.com, brucesallen.com, thegrowingfoodie.com, and coolthings.com.