Katie McCarthy: 'Man chores,' a boat and lost keys

May 9, 2014 

Few things make my husband happier than "man chores."

It may go without saying, but these usually involve fixing things.

Last weekend, it was his boat. For months, it sat under our carport with "holes" in it. Not accidental holes, just some pump that needed to be replaced or something -- I don't know. When it comes to anything electrical or mechanical, I'm useless.

He explains it to me and I listen -- honest -- though I rarely retain.

Feeling happy that he'd finally got the thing fixed, of course he wanted to take me and our daughter out for a spin on the lake.

Sunday morning was perfect boating weather. There was a hint of a chill in the air that quickly dissipated as we embarked on the year's inaugural aquatic adventure -- our child's first ever.

This girl is ear-to-ear smiles when the wind blows in her face, so we were fairly certain a boat ride would be a hit.

She was decked out in a neon-yellow life jacket, star-shaped sunglasses (that she picked out herself, naturally) and a polka-dot sun hat.

I was happy just taking pictures.

But we all piled into the boat without any trouble and started off on our adventure.

My husband drove slowly at first, just to get the little one acquainted with what it felt like to be on the water.

She seemed to be taking to it well, so we went a little faster.

With the additional speed, she was less inclined to squirm.

Once we reached our destination -- you know, somewhere in the middle of the lake -- my husband dropped the trolling motor and got out his fishing poles.

He fished, we played.

Little girl would sit on my lap, then in the driver's seat, then walk around the few feet of open space. Repeat. At one point, she grabbed the keys from the ignition -- daddy said it was OK to play with them, so I let her.

We brought a few toys along, but she's at a stage where non-toy objects are much more enticing.

And then IT happened.

The sun was getting brighter and warmer, so I was digging out the sunblock. I looked up just in time to see five tiny fingers releasing a handful of metal into the water.

I reached out, but it was too late.

The keys to the boat were now at the bottom of the lake. Just like that.

Those little floater key chains, by the way, don't particularly float.

"She just threw your keys in the lake!"

"Mmm-hmm."

I expected yelling, but he was calm. Angry, yes, but very calm. His mind was already trying to figure out how to get us back to the dock without a motor.

When the hot-wiring didn't work, we found a fellow boater who kindly towed us back to the dock, admitting the same thing had happened to him before.

I felt terrible, my husband's pride was a little bruised, and our daughter -- you could tell the guilt was eating her up. She fell asleep.

Only a few hours later, we were able to laugh about the incident. Surely, we'll never forget our daughter's first boat ride -- and we learned a few things for next time as well, such as not to let her play with the keys (duh!), that we should always apply sunblock before leaving the dock, and that perhaps a pool noodle would be a better flotation device for those most essential items on a boat.

In a backwards way, my husband should almost be happy this happened. Now that an essential element to the boat's power is swimming with the fishes, he's got a new "man chore" to add to his list: replacing the vessel's ignition switch.

Katie McCarthy, kmccarthy@ledger-enquirer.com or 706-571-8515.

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