Readers write in for guidance from the Paddler.
My son is addicted to the internet pornography and my daughter is addicted to sweets, but I think they take that from their mother. The question I have is requires some context. I started out with a 9.5 foot Spongecraft™ Lemming but it was just good for plunking in, so I switched to an 11 foot Spongecraft™ Otter. The Otter was good for playing around but I wanted something that was truly suited to the ocean so I bought a 20 foot sit-on-top Chumbucket™ Shark Cruiser. That Shark was kind of a lemon so I upgraded to a Shark Tiger and later a Shark Megalodon which as you probably know is top of the Shark line, though a pretty old design. I was satisfied, but my wife but had started complaining. Our car, a Saab Story, had been forced from the garage so that I could store my Lemming, Otter and all my Sharks. (I am a little reluctant to get rid of boats.) Everything can be solved with money so I built an annex to our garage with room for several more canoes and kayaks, parked the Saab in the original garage and picked up a Reynolds™ touring Deliverance kayak (with extra-big hatch in the back), a Duckie™ Duckweed fishing sit-on-top, and a Nutley™ Nutcase kayak expressly designed solely for rollover practice sessions – built with a spindle on each end for attaching to the sides of a swimming pool. I think you are beginning to catch my drift. The wife kept complaining. I joined a group of Dragon Boat paddlers and agreed to store the boat, a specially designed stretched aluminum canoe that accommodated twenty two. Later I joined a larger Dragon Boat group and agreed to store their boat accommodating fifty, not counting drummers and the dragon. I am condensing this story because along the way of course I found and purchased some other boats. To stop the wife’s complaining I bought the house next door and stored many of the boats there in a building out back I had constructed, and am able to use the house as a sort of paddlers’ club and opium den, storing boats in there too. I believe now have a medium-level commitment to the paddling hobby. I will not go into the variety of paddles I have obtained, suited to different densities and colors of water. Nor will I touch upon PFDs, carts for carrying vessels, roof racks and trailers, waterproof hats, UV-protective-space-age-fabric long sleeve shirts, paddling sandals and night vision paddling gear for the combination of this hobby with my hobby of astronomy. The hobby of astronomy is a fascinating hobby but demands specialized equipment, varying almost according to the quality of each night’s darkness. The combination of the hobbies involved me in boat mounted telescopes and associated electronic boat dashboard consoles not to mention my extensive smattering of good old fashioned brass astrolabes. I very much enjoy astronomy and whitewater paddling. But to the point.
I have a friend who is very involved with his own hobby and it involves recreational blimps. I had not flown before, but only tended to float on the water, and I’ve found floating in blimps to be intoxicating. To engage in the hobby one must have one or a number of blimp hangers – the blimps store quite easily deflated in the surface area of a five car garage but while gassing them up to full size one might easily need a hanger about the length of a city block. And that’s if you will only inflate one blimp at a time; most blimp collectors keep several. Blimp collectors tend to take their blimps out all at once, in the context of a party, fly to Phoenix and so forth. My wife threw up her hands some time ago, in the era of the Megalodon and so I have not discussed this new pursuit of mine with her. But I did broach the subject with my very aged father-in-law, who is confined to a senior living center and hustles other inmates at baccarat all day. In his time he was quite a gambler, but also an eminent therapist affecting a German accent. I’ve never known his real name so I call him “Leon”, one of his aliases. Leon says I have an Outmoded Mode of Transportation Addiction – he says I am overly fascinated with archaic modes of transportation, and it is causing problems in my marriage and my life. For a while this seemed to offer insight. I really had no idea my wife did not share my interest in archaic modes of transportation, I merely thought I had said something that offended her some years ago and she then went quiet. In all fairness I think I don’t really have a problem to the extent that it is unacceptably out of control. That is, when we were on vacation in Ohio we rode on a canal boat and I thought that was cool but I didn’t set about bringing functioning canal boats into the picture immediately. I mean, I thought a bit about how, in terms of family togetherness, we could dig a canal and build or buy a canal boat and pole along in it or tow it with mules, my son in the cabin with his laptop, my daughter in her closet with Bit-O-Honeys (which I too find irresistible), my wife in a specially built white wine cellar, not drinking white wine, she gave that up I believe, but smoking her quasi-medical marijuana. I imagined we could all be happy in that context but I nixed it. I didn’t go heavily into canal boats. I also refrained from becoming involved with some fellows I met who have great fun chipping wheels out from immense slabs of stone to install on rustic carts. That is, if I had an Addiction to Outmoded Modes of Transportation why am I not right now piloting canal boats or shaping stone wheels? I think I would be. Do you think I should take up Canal Boats, Paddler? – Eagerly Up in the Air in Bellaire
Dear Bell-Eagered: The Paddler thinks your case is joyous, profligate and narcissistic, but not at all uncommon. This sounds to me not like an Addiction to Outmoded Modes of Transportation (which is serious, but almost always culminates in chipping stone wheels), but like the less serious Occasional Buoyancy Mania, which is just coming to be diagnosed. If I were you I wouldn’t get on board with canal boats but continue to coalesce with kayaks and hang with blimps. All your hobbies involve buying property (building hangars and so forth) - fostering employment which is good for the economy. All of them also involve you with others, not so much your family perhaps, but with fellow hobbyists, contractors and sales persons and, in the case of building blimp hangars, city council and the personnel of the local courts. But I think you shouldn’t mess with mules. Mules are the worst. Plus, you have your interest in astronomy. Though that’s really best pursued my means of an observatory and a radio telescope. - The Paddler