Saturday, November 28, 2009

Maiden voyage ends in disaster

This delightful truffle of fiction was written by my friend Jennie, the winner of the Blog Attic contest. "Oh, oh," you may complain, sounding like a Sweathog, "we were supposed to vote and she went over the word count." Boo-hoo all you want, Horshack, she's the sole entry. Plus, it's funny. So quit whining and get reading. And next time, enter the contest.

Neither of us wanted to invite Edgar. Our plan was six months in the making and Edgar is always a fly in the ointment, but the axle went out on my trailer and he’s the only other guy around who had one.

The story really starts last fall when we were out frogging on the river. Dave’s son got his first air rifle, so we wanted to help him break it in. It turns out that the kid is a terrible shot, and we had to get right on top of the frog before he could hit it. We were up in a grassy shallow when we saw it. It was completely submerged and in good condition. I’d heard my dad telling stories about the loggers riding scows up and down the river along with the logs, but I’d never seen one before. A scow is a flat-bottomed long boat. It almost looks like an upside down fishing dock, and as a matter of fact, that’s what I thought I was looking at when I first discovered it. It took me another couple of weeks before I could fish it out of the river and get it into my garage.

She’s about 16 feet long and three feet wide. That’s just wide enough for a lawn chair. Dave and I worked on it for most of the winter months. I didn’t see any holes, so we figured the old girl must have gotten waterlogged and gone to the bottom.

We outfitted her with a secondhand Johnson outboard and painted her new name on the front. The name is a point of contention, not because we couldn’t agree, but because Dave is an idiot. He’s got some talent with a paintbrush and decided he could do a fine job freehand, and I have to admit, what’s there looks good. Unfortunately, he didn’t leave enough room for the whole name. We called her The Dock, but since Dave is an idiot, he didn’t have room for the “k.”

Our goal was to get her on the water by Memorial Day.

When Egg showed up (that’s what everyone’s called Edgar since he was a kid), we learned that he had a few ideas of his own. Instead of trying The Doc out on the river, he wanted to head over to the lake. I wasn’t in love with that idea, since every vacationer and his brother would have a boat in the water, but Egg was adamant and he had the trailer. Egg found a wine fridge on someone’s curb and felt it would class up our operation. Dave said that we should leave the fridge and take the cooler instead, because the fridge wouldn’t keep the beer cold. But old Egg was a step ahead of him. He brought a 25 HP generator. Still a skeptic, Dave complained until he saw that Egg had already stocked the fridge. None of us is above drinking free beer. Egg threw in a couple bottles of wine, but he told us that we didn’t have to drink them, since he just put them in there for show.

We loaded up and prepared for the ride in Egg’s truck. The lake was only five minutes away, but 30 seconds in Egg’s truck is too long. Egg has a coon hound/German Shorthair mutt that goes everywhere with him. Like other men of his geography and social class, Egg has developed a taste for squirrel. Now Skinner is one helluva squirrel dog and that keeps Egg in squirrel sandwiches and his truck smelling like a doghouse.

We got the scow on the water with all of its gear, including the lawn chairs, fridge, and generator. Egg forgot to gas up the generator, so we had to siphon some gas out of the outboard. Dave lost the draw on that one, so he siphoned the gas. I should have done it myself, because he made a complete mess of it. He spit it all over the back of the scow and let it leak everywhere.

The outboard fired up after a couple of pulls and The Doc was moving across the water. The lake was busy with expensive pontoon boats, speedboats, and skiers. We made our way through a mess of jet-skis and idled her back to a nice cruising speed. I guess the trouble started when Egg plugged in the fridge. The plug end of the fridge was gone, so he took the exposed wires and fed them into the plug on the generator. That wasn’t a bright idea. The thing started snapping and sparking, so Egg dropped it pronto—right into the gas puddle that Dave made.

Now I’m not sure if it was the flames or the yelling and jumping around Egg was doing that drew attention, but one of those tricked out pontoons headed over in our direction to lend a hand. I didn’t put a fire extinguisher on the scow, so the fella from the pontoon gave us his.

He pulled up along side and was holding out the fire extinguisher when Skinner took a shining to the dog they had on their boat. I found out later that it was called a Pomeranian, but Skinner thought it was a squirrel. He made an impressive leap onto their boat and started shaking that Pomeranian with a passion. Fur was flying and women were screaming. Dave was the closest one to their boat, so he jumped on and flung Skinner into the drink. Unfortunately, he hadn’t considered that Skinner might not let go of the dog. Realizing his mistake, he jumped in after Skinner, but when he surfaced he was yelling, “my ear, my ear!”

I don’t want to say Dave is a vain man, but he lost the top half of his ear a few years ago in a badger accident. Not long after that, he took the money his wife had saved up for a family vacation and bought a prosthetic ear. That day we learned that prosthetic ears do not float.

Skinner was halfway to shore before the pontoon caught up with him. Luckily they recovered the Pomeranian and Egg avoided another round of community service. The Doc was still smoldering after Egg doused it with the fire extinguisher, but she was seaworthy. We picked up Dave who was trying to figure out how to tell his wife that he lost his vacation ear in the lake. We found Skinner waiting for us on shore, loaded up and headed home.

Our first outing was a disappointment, but Dave and I have agreed to hold off launching her again until my trailer is fixed. Our new goal is the Fourth of July. Dave and his brother went south and bought a whole mess of fireworks and I got a brand new fire extinguisher, so we’ll be ready for anything.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Blog Post Contest

Way back in October, through the magic of Google's Webmaster Tools, I discovered that my blog has an attic. Upon that day, I went to work, creating a crack team of highly analytical robo-monkeys to reveal the implications of this find.

For the record, that is why I have been unable to post for 16 days. Robo-monkeys. Not making excuses, but it was tougher than it sounds. I spent nearly four of those days trying to find an agri-business willing to sell me genetically modified,  non-corrosive bananas. But, modern science prevailed, and here's what my metallic minions have revealed:

"If, someday, tinycatpants becomes a multi-million hit site, you don't want to frustrate those poor souls perusing the comments with a link to nowhere. It only takes a moment of imaginative energy to understand that this could be the downfall of your credibility. 'I mean,' goes the cry of the people, 'if she can't deliver on a simple blog post, what else is she incapable of doing?' And there goes your opportunity at a writing career, or health care reform."

So action must be taken. These titles need content. While I would enjoy answering the call, I believe in sharing my treasure; thus, I invite you, good people, to participate.

How? So glad you asked. Two ways. First, you could a create a post for one of the two titles:

We Are Pariah of Dog Park, May 2005
Maiden Voyage Ends in Disaster, May 2005

Write your 800-words-or-less post, and include your pen name as you would like it to appear in this blog. Put all that in the body of an email, NO ATTACHMENTS and NO LINKS, and send it to [in]my{little}town@(gmail).com.  Delete all of the parentheses and brackets in that address, the r-m's have advised this method as a way to thwart spammers.

The programmable primates and I will pick our favorites, and then I'll post the semi-finalists here on my blog for the people's vote - readers can click the 'Winner' or 'Nice Try' response button. The entry with the most 'Winner' clicks will be, well, the winner.

Submission window closes on November 22nd (that's two weeks, people). Semi-finalists will be posted soon thereafter. Voting will close November 30th.

Winner receives a 'guest blogger' credit on the new, official post, as well as a featured spot on my sidebar.  The runner-up (winner of the other title) will receive 'guest blogger' credit on his or her link as well. All semi-finalist posts will include your nom de plume and individual links, making it easy for you to direct folks here to vote.

Helpful hints from the robo-monkeys:
1) They like to laugh.
2) They like details that tie-in to the title and other information available in the original post.
3) They were prototyped during a romantic comedy gorgefest and thus ask that you refrain from anything that smacks of Meg Ryan.