Three Hundred

There is one tale that shares this title about 300 Spartan warriors fighting an insurmountable horde to their death. This tale is nothing near that epic, or has anything to do with the number 300. There just happen to be 299 posts that have been published prior to this, meaning that this is number 300. Have you grasped the enormity of this occasion yet?


I was trying to think of what I could possibly write about that would be worthy of this milestone. I could just continue creating posts along a similar vein as I always have, or come up with something truly brilliant. This could be considered somewhere in the middle ground. It's an embarrassing story from my childhood! Then I'll wrap it up with a moral! How fun will that be?!?

This will go back about 20 years, when I was 8, maybe as old as 10. It was a day trip with my family on a beautiful summer day. The sun was beaming and the only clouds in the sky were tiny cotton balls floating by on the light breeze strolling through. The plan was to spend the day at a family friend's lake house swimming, sunning, and BBQing. A perfectly normal, Summer trip for a family that doesn't live by the ocean, right?

These friends of the family we were seeing were friends of my parents in college and, in my dad's case, high school. So, we were all pretty familiar with each other, although we didn't get together too often. A few of them had kids, but I was the oldest one. Remember that fact: me = oldest kid of the group. Got it?

The lake was man-made. Near the house there was a large deck and a sandy beach, but the rest of the lake's surroundings consisted of large-grade gravel. Think gravel with larger rocks. There was also shrubbery and sparse, short trees. Maybe they were just very spindly, long-limbed bushes. It's been 20 years, so minor details are not as crisp as they once were.

One of the highlights of the trip was getting to see a jet ski in action. Before that, I'd just seen them on TV. A few of the adults were taking it for a spin around the lake and a few would take their kids out with them. Nearly every boy had gone out and then one of them offered to take me out. My dad is a tall guy, for those who don't know, and he didn't want to get his dangling feet torn up by the speeding water. I was hesitant because even to this day I'm not a very strong swimmer. I can tread water and move toward shore if need be, but at an incredibly slow pace. I also have this fear of bodies of water that I can't see through clearly.

My dad, however, felt I was beyond just simply riding on some one's back while shooting across this large, murky puddle. He quickly piped up and assured everyone within earshot that I was mature enough (read: tall) to drive this jet ski and possibly pull off some tricks that we'd seen on TV. That last part isn't entirely true, but couldn't you see a father looking at his eldest son and seeing the potential to be anything and everything? Since I had yet to prove a true talent in anything physical, maybe mine would be jet skiing? Shit, Tiger Woods was gripping golf clubs in the crib! I was already 10 and losing my window of opportunity to be a sport prodigy.

Being hesitant about just going for a ride, you can imagine the thoughts swarming my young imagination. Many of them were admittedly kick ass beyond belief. I was pulling off those stunts I'd seen half a dozen times on TV. It looked so simple! Just how hard could this really be? As I began to get a crash course in the mechanics of this advanced piece of technology, I was starting to feel better about the idea of driving. Okay, the throttle makes you go. Got it. There's a kill switch in case you get into a situation that freaked you out too much, but I put that out of my mind quickly due to the thoughts of carnage it conjured. Then there's the "turbo" button. Fuck yeah! That's like showing a kid a sparkler and then the destructive force of an M-80. The sparkler's for those pussies who hold on to adults while riding jet skis. I'm M-80 material now. Bring on the fucking turbo!!

I begin to wade out toward the jet ski when someone suggested I put on a life vest. Adrenaline had warped my brain's common sense and I looked back at my source of confidence, Dad, with the classic kid, "Do I hafta?" look. A slow nod was what I was given, and I begrudgingly snapped it on. I climbed aboard and I know my dad yelled something to me, but I can't remember what the hell it was. Think of any bad-ass line from "Top Gun" and that will suffice. That's what I was feeling in my 10 year-old balls anyway. "I've got the need... for speed!" is what my balls were shouting to the rest of my vital organs. They all being drunk on adrenaline responded with a resounding, "Fuck yeah, we do!" My guts, have shit for brains. It took me a long time to figure that out though.

I get pointed out toward the middle of the lake and a vast runway for me to take off from. I awaited the countdown to launch from my flight crew and then torqued the throttle back as far as I could. I waited until I had put enough space between me and the shore before slamming my thumb on the turbo. It wasn't the boost that I was expecting, but it was sufficient for my roaring little testicles.

It took me less time than I anticipated to cross a majority of the lake. With the opposite shore approaching I began to turn. Except, the direction I was heading was not changing. I approached the driving technique as being similar to that used when steering a motorcycle. Not that I'd driven one, but the need to lean was what I had brought to the table. It was not until the shore was terrifyingly close that I realized that as I leaned, I was raising the rudder (or whatever it's called on a jet ski) out of the water. With my balls now shrieking like a two year-old girl, I was becoming frantic and quickly corrected my mistake and twisted the handlebars to turn me away from the shore as quickly as I could. I began my turn, but it was creating a wider arc than I needed.

I quickly hit the graveled shore. In my current state of fear, I had the handlebars in a death grip that I wasn't about to loosen. As I skimmed along the gravel, much of what I saw was a blur. A bush did make a brief and clear appearance in my eye line, though. Running over this bush - yes, I ran over a bush - must have knocked me back toward the water, because I suddenly began to experience a much less-rocky ride. Literally. I had somehow made it from water, to land, back to water without experiencing a scratch.

I had also gotten the hang of how to turn, but the rest of the crowd, who had been shouting since they noticed I wasn't turning initially, had not become aware of that. I was completely oblivious to their screams because the noise of the jet ski and then the jet ski hitting the rocks was much too loud for me to hear anything else. So as a joke, I headed toward the deck, which had an outcropping over the lake. As I came closer to the deck I could see many of the adults' faces and each face was telling me, "This insane little fucker is going to slam into this deck and kill himself if he doesn't hit the kill switch!!!" At the last second, I swerved, released the turbo and throttle, and then coasted to the spot where I started.

My parents grabbed me up and just held onto me, checking every inch of my body to make sure that their eyes were not lying to them. It didn't take too long for the horror to wear off. Then the whole incident then became a joke. The next day of course. I kept to myself during the reminder of our trip to the lake and I have no idea how much damage I did to that jet ski. It still ran, obviously, but I'm sure it had an insane number of dents and scratches on it, though. That bush wasn't growing back either.

So, I promised you a moral after this story. Did you pick up on it already? No, it's not that your guts have shit for brains. I would have kept that line for the end if that was my nugget of knowledge that I would by passing on to you. The true moral here is: Don't listen to your parents.

Yeah, I said it.

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