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HomeNL-2018-04 Ask the Paddler

Ask the Paddler

Readers write in for guidance from the Paddler

Dear Paddler, I go on these big group floats. They last several days, as much as a week counting the shuttles. Why don’t the men bathe or shave during all that time? I mean, we’re near water practically always. - Downwind Donna

Dear Downwind-
I think most men would say they forget to bring their soap and razors.
Presuming this ruse is easily penetrated, remember that men share 85% of their genetic material with Musk Oxen. Each Musk Ox savors or even glories in its own smell. And Musk Oxen are known for not shaving. Perhaps eons ago a Musk Oxen did shave, but cut itself, or those that shaved were culled by natural selection.

Dear Paddler, I go on these big group floats. We’re in campgrounds beforehand. Lots of stuff has to be moved around, including the boats. Sometimes huge picnic tables have to be relocated. Why do the men pick these things up by themselves, heavy objects, even though there are other people available to help? – Rosie, Riveted

Dear Rosie-
I think most men would say that the object is not very heavy, and they’re used to doing things by themselves.

Dear Paddler: Same question, again. – Rosie, Riveted

Dear Rosie,
I expect most men would say that if they can’t carry their own boat, or picnic table, then they should not be in the sport.

Dear Paddler: Come on! – Rosie, Riveted

Dear Rosie,
I expect the men say that no-one was nearby, so they went ahead and did it.

It could also be that there were women in the landscape.

Dear Paddler: I go on these paddling trips with only men. Some men offer to help others carry their boats, but the offer is always turned down. Young or old, always the same, but particularly the young, and the old. What goes on here? - Sam the Sensitive Instrument

Dear Instrument -
Accepting help carrying one’s boat is an admission that you are not strong or capable and that your body is subject to infirmities. This is a different explanation than the explanation for not accepting help when women are present, which relates to men sharing 80% of their genetic material with peacocks.

Dear Paddler: I go on long river trips and certain men must be the lead boat. They are never found in someone else’s wake. There are other men who hang back for the chance to save someone. Lurking, lurking, with throw-bag, paddle and camera, ready to save someone. What is this about? – Wondering Wenonah

Dear Wenonah –
Certain persons need to go where no one has ever gone before. This even occurs on Buffalo Bayou and other highly trafficked waterways. Others exist to remove other persons from danger. They know this by very faint bar-coding appearing on their insteps, or at some other place about their bodies. It is perhaps the case that we are fortunate to have these ‘vanguard’ paddlers and ‘water rescue’ paddlers strewn about. No paddling trip can proceed without a boat in front, and even in solo paddling efforts there is one paddler primarily responsible for the rescue.

Dear Paddler: What’s the attraction of going on a big difficult expedition without your family? What’s the attraction of doing something perilous in the freezing cold, or the sweltering hot, something just too damn difficult? - Snug Life Jacqueline

Dear Life Jackie -
For certain persons, their deep connection with others, even their family, is not their notion of success. Those persons have to undergo some very difficult test to feel successful. Observe that marathoners feel heroic, even though their lives are scarcely at risk – your tag while running a marathon may indicate you are one among several thousand. Your supporters line the sidelines. The most hugely terrifying tests (play-boating Niagara Falls, jogging to the North Pole, spelunking an active volcano) offer their takers a win-win situation. Living to tell of the extremes is a success and dying while trying to do those things is a success also. Neither contains inadequacy – both positions are invulnerable. Of course it’s not that simple. Perhaps more interesting are all the souls walking around disappointed that they aren’t confronted with extreme tests. To the Paddler, this explains some of the resistance to gun control among men.

Hey Paddler,
The answer above seems descriptive only of men. Do you realize you’re trapped in your toxic masculinity, expressing that every boy and man wants to be strong and respected, but leaving out connectedness, and thus many girls and women? - Perception Essence 16

Dear Essence-
If I were trapped in toxic masculinity, I would be reacting in angry aggression, or withdrawing. GET THE HELL OUT OF MY COLUMN!

I guess the point Jackie was making is that the flagellant does self-punishment for himself - the devil take his loved ones. And you are saying men are likelier to seek these ‘tests of self’ as their existential assurances, where women will often choose to feel alive by doing good works for others.

Dear Paddler,
Why does my favorite meal always taste so good when I come home from a long hard paddling and camping trip? - Ravenous Ralph

Dear Ralph-
You were hungry. But don’t forget to wash first. Incidentally, I’d refrain from eating mushrooms (67% shared DNA - basically, a cousin). Try to choose instead bananas (less than 50%) or gravel (0%).