My Mom’s brother and his family have lived in Arizona for years. When you live in a state like that, there’s not much use for inner-tubes. (At least not like there is in Northern Michigan!) For one particular summer, though, they found out just how important inner-tubes are for making things interesting at the beach.
One of my cousins–Heather was her name–was about eight months older than me. So as cousins go, we were relatively close as a result. She and one of her girlfriends came with my Aunt and Uncle to our family cabin with us one summer when I was around fifteen. As you can imagine, that was exciting for me on multiple levels. Being a testosterone-ravaged teenager, I was keenly aware of Heather’s girlfriend (her name was Marian). Oh, yeah, and I got to be with my cousin, too.
Do you remember the stories involving the family cabin on Carp Lake in northern Michigan? Well, in the boathouse down by the lake there were always a couple of smaller inner-tubes. My brother and I used them as kids to float along the shoreline and look for interesting rocks. As we got older and sometime prior to the Arizona family coming up, Dad decided to get us all our own inner-tubes. Big ones for my brother and I and an absolutely huge one for he and Mom. Mine was slightly larger than my brother’s (being the older brother, I dictated that the larger one was mine). We eventually discovered something intoxicatingly fun, though. We could stack all five of these inner-tubes on top of each other and have it look something like this:
We’d create this inner-tube mountain, attempt to climb to the top of it and then balance long enough to stand. Once there, the other brother would try to disrupt the inner-tubes enough to dethrone the occupant at the top of the mountain. This, of course, would send the self-imposed dictator toppling down the mountain or sailing through the air. Either way, it was a good five feet to the water below. Sometimes, though, the trip down was through the middle of the inner-tubes. This usually resulted in the inner-tube nozzles raking across the rib cage as the dethroned fell to his demise. As entertaining as this was, however, it just wasn’t as adventurous as we had imagined it would be. So we found the excitement we were really after with these inner-tubes was located on Lake Michigan (about ten miles from the cabin).
(Stage Left): Enter the Arizona crew.
We loaded up all of the inner-tubes and all drove out to the Big Lake. On this particular day, the wind had the waves at a perfect height of a foot or so. Getting out into chest-high water, pulling a mountain of inner-tubes to climb, with waves a foot high tossing them about….now that’s adventure!
So we did that for a while, ate lunch, laid out on the beach and eventually found ourselves doing our own thing. My Uncle and Marian were playing catch with a water-soaked Nerf football in water that wasn’t quite chest-high depth. I was laying on the monster inner-tube relatively close to Marian as I lazily watched this game of catch unfold.
It might be important to note that in my observations of Marian, I had noticed that she was fairly competitive when we played games of any sort. So as she and my Uncle tossed the football back and forth, things got more and more interesting. My Uncle kept getting further away from Marian and throwing the ball a little harder as he did so. Now, Lake Michigan water is typically on the cold side. When there’s any kind of wind, the water feels warmer if you just stay in it. So Marian was crouching down in the water whenever she didn’t have the football. As a result, this made it appear that she was in water up to her shoulders.
It was during one of these many throws and catches between my Uncle and Marian that shock and awe ensued. My Uncle lobbed a long throw with that heavy, water-soaked Nerf football. In Marian’s crouching position, it was going to sail well over her head. So without thinking much about it, she launched herself out of the water and into the air to get that ball. Did I mention that Marian had a tube-top bikini on that day? Actually, to be accurate, at this point she was suddenly wearing only half of it. She went up and her tube-top went down. And I got a Howard Cosell play-by-play close-up of the action since I was only five feet from her when this happened.
As you can imagine, she immediately went for cover. By that point, however, I had turned my head the other way for a few seconds to give her time to do just that. I was laughing about it as I turned my head back around to where she was (thankfully, she was too). She handled it very well, considering what had just happened. She slowly came up out of the water with everything where it should be and asked, “So, did you like the free show?”
As a teen-age boy, I couldn’t deny that this had been a rather interesting situation. But I was far more focused on something far more important: My “flesh” definitely wanted to keep looking at what it suddenly had an opportunity to look at; but the work God had been doing in me even to that point of my life meant that I knew that the right thing to do was to look away. And I did that! It’s a good feeling when you see yourself do something that’s right without even thinking about it.
Marian and my Uncle continued to play catch, but she no longer crouched in the water. Wise move on her part……