Once a year, my fraternity embarks on a trip to a lake in Arizona for five days of nautical nonsense. Over the course of the trip, we drive houseboats to various beaches across the 100,000 square mile lake before setting up camp each night. On the third morning of our trip, I was woken up around dawn by heavy gusts of wind. Still extremely hungover, I tried my best to ignore the wind and go back to sleep. As soon as I found myself drifting back into a nice slumber, a crash of thunder shook me right back awake. Almost immediately, raindrops began pelting my tent, and I decided to take a look outside. Looking out into the canyon, I could barely see anything due to sand being blown all around the beach. In the distance, lightning bolts made contact with the water, two or three of them every second. It looked like something right out of the apocalypse.
After a minute of looking out at the storm, a thought shook me to my senses. Oh fuck, the boats.
I quickly took my tent apart and ran around the rock formation I had set up on the far side of, and the scene on the rest of the beach was total chaos. Many people were trying to save what they could of their tents and supplies, but it was all for naught. Tents, umbrellas, chairs, clothes, beach balls, and trash bags were all sent barreling into the desert, never to be seen again. After a few minutes of trying to salvage what people could, they tried to get into their respective boats, which was easier said than done. Several anchors had come out of the ground, and the boats were swaying violently back and forth, dangerously close to colliding with each other. When I finally got into my boat, I found that most of my crew was already holed up inside, their faces pale with worry. I sat down at my captain’s chair and attempted to dry off, when the radio suddenly crackled to life. It was our president, who was captain of the lead boat in our small armada.
“Well guys, this shit is pretty fucked. I’ve been listening to weather reports from the marina, and it looks like an even worse storm is coming in hot. If we want to keep these boats in one piece, we need to high-tail it the fuck out of here.”
After doing just that, we arrived safely in one of the larger channels in the lake, the storm finally having settled down a bit. I went over the roster to make sure everyone was accounted for, and we appeared to be missing one person. I turned toward my first mate.
“Hey, where’s Barry at? I haven’t seen him since last night.”
“Oh, he’s fine. He got really stressed out by the storm and polished off a fifth of Black Velvet. I think he’s passed out in the back.”
Jesus Christ. Black Velvet belongs to the ninth circle of Whiskey Hell, and the thought of someone downing an entire fifth of it so quickly made me cringe. Well, at least that would pacify Barry. He was one rowdy motherfucker, and having him asleep was going to make this journey a lot easier. That is, until he burst into the main cabin. He had found yet another bottle of whiskey, and his eyes peered headlong into a dimension unknown to you and I. He lumbered over to me and grunted something along the lines of, “Get closer to that boat so I can jump onto it.”
That sure as hell wasn’t going to happen. All four of our houseboats were moving briskly through 500 foot deep water, and there was no way I was letting anyone jump from one boat to the next. Besides, I knew that Barry couldn’t swim. I calmly told him to fuck off, but he kept arguing with me. My first mate came to my aid, trying to change the subject. No dice. Barry’s mind was set, and he ran out onto the front deck, determined to jump from our boat. He hoisted one leg over the railing, and was well on his way to jumping right off when eight brothers barreled out the door to stop him. Barry was a bigger guy, and it took all eight of them to restrain him. After fighting with them for several minutes, he finally calmed down enough to sit on the floor and cry. He then grabbed a wooden penguin statue that served as the mascot of our boat, and began to have a heart-to-heart with the thing. Many tears flowed, and after a while he came back into the cabin of the boat, saying, “That penguin saved my life, man. He knows.”
“What the fuck ever, Barry.” I rolled my eyes. Despite the fact that this guy had nearly jumped to his certain demise, I couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of it all. As we get closer to this year’s lake trip, I thank my lucky stars every single day that he went alum and won’t be coming with us anymore. Fuck you, Barry..