I’m not trying to brag or anything but I’ve been around more than a few of the various out-doorsy scenes around this town. The mountain bikers, road biker, rope climbers, boulderers, gym-rats, running people, tri-people, stoner-backpackers, kayakers – the list goes on. The rowing dock people though, are probably the most interesting (from a people perspective), the most diverse for sure. Old, young, fat, skinny, tall, short – take your pick. The old guys that run the dock are what imagine myself being like as an older cyclist – as knowledgeable as they are cranky. A fine example is Sommers. I don’t know if this is the guy’s first or last name, but he seems really cool until you screw something up (which no matter what you do, you will screw something up around this dude) after which his handlebar mustache just exudes dismay-for-the youth-of tomorrow. Once you get ‘the look’ you’re pretty much left with the options of running away, or drowning yourself in the lake in the hope that your death will at least give him hope for the world, as there will now be one less asshat screwing up his day.
Take yesterday. After spending the entire day recovering from Saturday night, I decide to go for a row. As I’m getting setup I glance up to see what looks like half the 15 to 17-year-old population of Austin, in sit-on-top kayaks heading my way. A part of some ill-conceived youth outing. I imagine it was a similar feeling to the Japanese at Guadalcanal, looking out over the pacific and seeing nothing but American ships and slowly contemplating how monumentally screwed they were. Thus, in my haste to get the hell out of dodge, I didn’t push off from the dock hard enough, while simultaneously some freak gale decided to fire down the lake at precisely the wrong moment.
The result was chaos: I got pushed into two other rowing shells, and passel of giggling high school girls who had less of a clue as to what to do than I did. Finally the trip leader for the kayak excursion essentially tugboated me out of the traffic snarl. Quite humiliating. As I’m getting pushed to freedom, there’s Sommers standing on the dock, staring directly at me – the cause of the wretched clusterfuck . He stands there perfectly still for a moment, while his mustache imperceptibly twitches. Then his mouth flattens into an underscore and he shakes his head ever so slightly, walking away, leaving me to pursue option one of the Sommers-scorn-avoidance plan.
Like I said. It’s an interesting scene.