Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Time My Cousin Tried To Kill Me - Happy Birthday Bella

Today, July 7th is my first cousin and best friend Bella's birthday and to honor her special day I'm going to tell you about the time she tried to kill me. OK, perhaps that is an exaggeration. It wasn't premeditated murder. In a court of law it might not even be considered manslaughter, had the situation come to trial, which thankfully it did not. What happened is that Bella, in her zeal to remain alive, was willing to use me as bait; was willing then to let me die in her place when it came right down to it.

A few years ago, on a beautiful summer day, Bella and I found ourselves in a boat in the middle of the ocean with a bunch of cool people. Both of us, being highly neurotic individuals, did not want the cool people on the boat with us to know that neither of us were as cool as they were. At first things went well. Now I will tell you that both my cousin and I have a deathly terror of the sea. We both enjoy boats just fine when they are piddling down the Intracoastal. We like them even more when they are affixed to a track and gliding through animatronic pirates and dogs wagging keys in their robotic mouths. Both of us were a bit on edge that afternoon, on the big power boat, blazing through the surf, a fan-shaped fountain of spray erupting in our wake.

It was a hot day. Everyone wore bathing suits. I wore my prized pale yellow bikini with monkeys on it, which is now nine years old and needs to go in the garbage. I haven't worn it since this day, but I can't get rid of it for some reason. Where will I ever find a bathing suit with monkeys on it ever again? I keep thinking I'll find a use for it, like maybe one day I'll get into quilting, learn to sew, and make a giant, waterproof throw. A pool throw perhaps, for when the water's cold. Because that could work, right? And it could be patched together with squares from all the pilled-up seats of all my old bathing suits.

But yes, we were all wearing bathing suits and mine was already well past its prime. As I said, it was a really hot summer day. We decided to stop the boat in the middle of the ocean, literally miles from the shoreline, above a thousand feet (at the very least) of opaque blue water, in four foot swells, which didn't look very large from the deck of the forty foot boat until it stopped and then all of a sudden the stomach-roiling rocking began. Internally, I began to panic. A million terrible images bubbled into my mind: seasickness, sharks, man o wars, barracudas, cellulite, drifting to Bimini and perhaps the biggest terrible thing of all - not looking cool around cool people. Half of the cool people wanted to (gulp) jump off the boat and into the water. The other cool people wanted to sit on the boat and have cocktails.

I weighed my options. Bella weighed her options. It is a well known fact that the cool girls are adventurous. They go rock climbing and bungee jumping. They can drive stick and love upside down roller coasters. Cool girls are fearless risk takers. Well, I'm not a fearless risk taker and neither is Bella, in spite of what she'll tell you about how much she loves the Sky Coaster. When it comes to the ocean, both of us are wary. My theory on this is that in a past life we died together in a terrible shipwreck, but who knows. Although we are afraid of the ocean, both of us really wanted to be the cool girls.

Too often I am labeled as the party-pooping pain in the ass who can't have a good time and who is scared of everything. This day, I just didn't want to be that. I wanted to be that bungee jumping, motorcycle riding without a helmet kind of girl for once. I wanted to jump off of that boat into the blue abyss and so did Bella. We had to do it. We had to conquer our fear and save face.

Bella went first because she is a tad braver than I am. Then, because she did it I had absolutely no choice but to hold my breath and jump in. The water was freezing miles from shore. God only knows what sea predators were swimming beside me and beneath me. The water was so dark, there was no way I'd ever know until I was crammed halfway down the maw of a starving Tiger Shark. I was already seeing my own reenactment on a Shark Week documentary about Florida attacks and I hoped they'd at least get a skinny actress to play the dying me flailing around in the red water.

To make matters worse, those four foot swells created eight foot wells. From the boat, the chop only served to make one mildly queasy. From above, the waves didn't look like much. That all changed once you were actually in the water, with nothing to hold onto and nowhere to stand up. I was treading for dear life and so was Bella but I wasn't even thinking about her. Naturally we were with a bunch of boys who thought nothing of any of this and were practically playing Marco Polo while I half drowned.

When I jumped in the water, I was too panicked to realize that the sheer force of my jump, combined with the waves and current, had all conspired to rip my bathing suit bottoms clean off of my body. I only wear tie bottoms, because these, I've concluded squish the hips the least, thereby making one look less fat in them. Somehow both sides of my tie bottoms came untied at once. The current was strong that day. It felt like we'd managed to stop right in the middle of the Gulf Stream itself and now it was quickly carrying away my bikini bottom with the monkeys on it. I was completely bare assed and panicking and going to die in the ocean and they were going to find my body naked from the waist down, in South Carolina, since that was where the Gulf Stream would probably carry me.

I was South of the boat and the current was pulling my bathing suit bottoms toward, but actually past, the boat. Frantically I dog paddled, half naked, my big white ass shining in the sun for everyone on the boat to see quite clearly, to try to catch my bottom half. Everyone on the boat shouted and pointed. Finally, out of breath, I made it to the boat's swim ladder, where I tried to hold on for a second. I thought if I could hold on, maybe I could get stable and maybe the bottoms would float by again and I could lunge out and get them if I could just get one of the long strings. There wasn't a lot of logic in this thinking, but I had just exposed myself to several people and was floundering in a thousand feet of salt water which was violently tossing me around and washing over my head.

At the same time, Bella was having her own crisis. Wrapped up in her own terror, Bella failed to notice my bare ass and saw only my screaming and desperate race to get to the boat ladder. In her mind this could only mean one thing. There was a Great White Shark. We were its appetizer sampler platter, much like the one at the Olive Garden that comes with fried raviolis AND mozzarella sticks. Bella was going to be a Great White's fried ravioli!!!! She was going to die!!!

Bella's mind went blank. Her fight or flight kicked in and she practically flew up out of the water like a sailfish, running across those four foot swells to get back to that boat ladder to climb to safety. She thought of nothing else but her escape from the non-existent shark that she assumed I was screaming about. She didn't see my bathing sut bottoms bobbing away and she entirely missed my gigantic bare ass looming before her on the boat ladder. Bella was in survival mode and I was in her way.

My tiny cousin, who I tower almost a full seven inches over, literally grabbed me by the hair and jerked me back. Then, she slammed both of her hands against my chest, hurling me back into the waves, this time face up, so everyone who had now already seen my behind, could get a nice detailed shot of my crotch. Once I was out of the way, having become Bella's human shield to an imaginary shark, she scrambled up the ladder and back into the boat. That's when she looked down and saw that I was half naked and by now in hysterics.

At this point in the story, the boat's captain had retrieved my bikini bottoms with a gaff hook, and everyone found this wildly amusing. Except me. I was still stuck bare assed in the ocean being laughed at. I had to hang on to the edge of the boat until Bella could come with a beach towel to shield everyone from another gratuitous crotch shot. That did nothing, by the way, to block the view of my ass to the boys who were still in the water.

So much for trying to be the cool girls. The whole ride back in we had to listen to recountings of Bella's mad scramble up the ladder and descriptions of not just my face when I realized my bottoms were off, but also how my butt looked tossed around in the waves. No one knew Bella had such strength in such a little body. No one knew she'd be willing to sacrifice her dear cousin to sharks in order to save her own ass.

Bella it is for stories like these that I love you so much. Happy 29th Birthday!


Anonymous said...

I was there and it's all true....Happy Birthday Bella!

Last Minute Lyn said...

Before I found your blog I thought things like that only happened to me

Amanda said...

I literally laughed out loud reading that. Happy Birthday Bella! As I have grown older I have also grown to hate bathing suits more. I used to wear two pieces, now I feel too self-concious in them. I must have a long torso because the one pieces give me a major wedgie. And I feel like tankinis look like I am wearing a tank top and underwear in the water. Men have it so easy.

Kirsten B. said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for a belly laugh to go alongside my morning tea.

Albany Jane said...

Haha, being so far out in choppy water does sound a little nerve wracking!

Consultant Calamities said...

this is why I would NEVER, EVER go on a boat in the ocean. Much less in a bikini. Much less with a bunch of cool people! :-O

Thanks for posting my link!

Maria said...

OMG I read Elyse Sewell's livejournal too! =D

Melanie said...

I'm not supposed to be laughing at work! But thanks so much for the hilarious story!

G.H. said...

Wow! Brilliant.

Happy birthday Bella.


Lady Jane said...

With friends like that..who needs enemies! J/K...I love those kind of stories

JoeinVegas said...

Hmmm, makes me want to buy a boat. And a video camera. Or just read other people's stories and imagine.

Eric said...

"I was already seeing my own reenactment on a Shark Week documentary about Florida attacks.."
My god I laughed out loud at that line.

Monda said...

Clearly, you must make the bikini-bottom crazy quilt.

Gummilion said...

"I was completely bare assed and panicking and going to die in the ocean and they were going to find my body naked from the waist down, in South Carolina, since that was where the Gulf Stream would probably carry me."

This was where I lost it. Laughed so hard, I cried! And I'm at WORK! Thank you thank you thank you.

mcgrimus said...

You really paint a vivid picture. The part about flying out of the water like a sailfish got me going! Glad it didn't come down to Great White Shark vs. Great White Ass.

Lydia said...

that was AWESOME.
you just made my night.
thanks for the laughs - it's a gift!

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