McKeithan Column|Boat deal sunk by stupidity

Published 7:29 am Friday, July 17, 2009

Associate Publisher

Area waterways no longer safe
After two decades of working for “the man,” I have amassed a sizable nest egg. Crown Royal bags full of coins — hidden discretely on the top of my dresser — attest to sacrifice, hard work and a nifty packaging gimmick for whiskey.
(I do not drink Crown Royal. I do, however, seem to have quite the collection of purple velvet pouches with gold stitching and tie string.)
Several people heard the jingling sound of “success” as I dropped the bags on my way to the coin machine at the grocery store. My dramatic entrance through the automatic doors, arms loaded down with coin pouches, announced to the world: “I have arrived!”
Not one to act on frivolous buying impulses, I was inspired recently (after watching Gilligan’s Island) to make a shrewd investment that will bring years of fun for the family. Recession be darned!
It was time to buy a boat.
No longer would I have to bear the indignity of making the following phone call to dear friends:
Hey, Hood. What are you up to today? It’s a great day to be out on the river!
“Oh, Roy … it’s you.”
It’s ‘Ray.’ You’re such a kidder.
“Whatever, Roy … look, I’ve got to go.”
But wait! I thought maybe we could take your boat out today and have lunch on Ocracoke. I’ll even give you $10 for gas this time — if you’ll take care of lunch at Howard’s Pub … I’m bringing my family.
“Uh, we’ve got other plans today.”
No problem. Can WE take your boat out then? I made a copy of your key last time we used it. I promise not to play chicken with the crab pots anymore … OK?
After cashing in my coins for currency at Piggly Wiggly, I had the bank give me one-dollar bills for my largesse. I grabbed my beautiful wife and we went shopping for boats!
On our way, I explained to my beautiful wife our negotiation strategy: Let ME do all the talking! I knew she was down with the plan; she made no comment and continued to stare out the side window with an expressionless (though beautiful) face partially obscured by her flaxen hair.
I made yet another grand entrance, this time at the local boat dealership. I wanted everyone there to know that a real “player” had arrived: “I’ve got five HUNDRED dollars that ain’t doin’ nothin’ … I want me a boat!” I screamed as I proudly struck my best superhero pose with one arm held high and waving a fistful of one-dollar bills fanned-out like a card hand.
As I walked to the larger boats, the salesman grabbed me by the arm and led me to a craft that looked very similar to the kiddie boats at county fairs. You know the ones; they’re attached by a spoke to a hub and go around in a cement trough of water about a foot deep. The steering wheels go ’round but aren’t connected to anything.
My beautiful wife looked at the salesman and said, “Ray didn’t grow up around water and he knows nothing about boats.” In other words, she was really saying — in boat talk — “my husband’s an idiot. Please disregard anything he says and for Heaven’s sake: DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT!”
I was not deterred. I began asking probing questions:
“Why do you call that a 20 ‘foot’ boat? Don’t you know proper grammar, dude? You should say that boat is 20 ‘FOOTS’ long. It’s plural, Einstein. I looked at my beautiful wife and said, “Who’s the idiot NOW?”
I was on a roll.
“Tell me something else, Cap’n Crunch … when I buy my boat, does the ‘For Sale’ sign come with it? ’Cause every boat owner I know seems to have one.”
The salesman ignored me and my beautiful wife once again stared out the window of the boat dealership with her expressionless (though beautiful) face.
After a long silence, the salesman turned and walked to his office. My wife, head down, shuffled out the door.
No more words were spoken.
I stood — alone — basking in the self-satisfaction of knowing I had left them both speechless.
A player, indeed.
Postscript: After this column originally ran in 2008, Captain McKeithan did indeed purchase a boat — four ‘foots’ long — and has never once been “pulled over” by authorities while paddling around the downtown waterfront.
Ray McKeithan is associate publisher of the Washington Daily News. Your negative comments about him or his writing may be sent directly to his email address: