Thursday, September 2, 2010

Boat People

Rebellious Palpitations - Spinnerette (mp3)
Red Wine & Whiskey - Katrina & the Waves (mp3)

At a shindig with several other couples, I recently made a comment about Boat People. I said people who weekended frequently on their boats in the lake seemed like their own unique and freaky sub-culture.

There's something about daisy-chaining your living quarters right up next to seven or eight other boats you might or might not know. That's weird, dude. It's like going to an RV park and happily connecting your RV up to a bunch of other RVs so everyone could hop back and forth between RVs whenever anyone got the notion. Maybe RV People do that. I don't know. RV People are freaky enough without the daisy-chain thing.

Anyway, my wife and I have had only a couple of random days and nights on the lake in the company of Boat People, and we always left with strange vibes even though nothing blatantly off-key occurred. We felt a little bit like Fox and Scully, like there was something lurking in the shadows that we just couldn't see.

The reaction I got from my comment was unequivocal. The two women who were sitting with us on the deck, smoking like chimneys, totally backed my theory. They both shared stories of going to boat parties and seeing weird things. Words like "sex swing" and "group sex" and "doing drugs off other guys' wives' bellies." Not them, mind you. Other people at these parties. The Boat People.

The following week at work, two coworkers are talking, and a man's name is mentioned, and it just so happens his name was brought up in the Boat People talk of the weekend. That inspires me to have a conversation one of them about Boat People where I express my theory, and my coworker enthusiastically nods.

"My ex was a Boat Person," she says. "I remember waking up one night, everyone was drunk -- everyone was always drunk on these boats -- and I had to go to the bathroom, and he had these friends who were older and very overweight, and I walked out of the bedroom, and they were just sitting there in the floor doing it doggy style."

My eyebrows naturally raised.

"I think I let out a little bit of a frightened squeak, but they didn't care. It was pretty gross. They just kept going at it," she said. "And my ex just told me that wasn't anything compared to the stuff that goes on some nights." At least those two were married to one another, was his general point.

Apparently, Boat People have two lives. On land, they're just like the rest of us. They work. They drive. They eat. They sleep. But on the water, they unleash these secret lives of lurid and verboten activity. Drug dabbling. Sexcapades. God knows what else, perhaps cat juggling or other such heinous crimes.

And I'm left to speculate: do they go to the water to unleash this hidden mutant form of themselves, or does being out on the water mutate them over time?

Meanwhile, another coworker talked over lunch about her friendship with a very promiscuous gay man who lives in her building. He claims to have sex with, on average, four or five different men each week. He has a separate email address used specifically to communicate in some kind of way with other men just wanting to get laid.

"Many more than half" of this guy's partners are married men, she said. He goes to their offices late at night. Or he meets them in one of several semi-secretive public locations.

My coworker said all of this has left her neighbor - brace yourself for this one - jaded about things. He's seen so many secret lives and revealed lies and shattered illusions that he can't help but start wondering if there's anything about the world we pretend we're living in that actually has any truth to it.

Are we all boat people? Is there, above the water, this gorgeous collection of rooms and seats, a well-tended bow and stern, polished and gleaming in the sun? Is there, meanwhile, hidden beneath the surface, the ugly mildewed hull and the propeller that actually moves us and motivates us, churning away in the water without those around us ever actually paying attention? Are there piranhas in the water, in 3-D?

Would we be better off if we acknowledged the entire boat instead of just the part above the water's surface? Or did we try that, and it was called the '70s, and it was horrifying?

I don't know. I just know it's getting harder and harder to act shocked - shocked! - that all of this happens so frequently right under our noses. Maybe we're just happier being a Culture of Gilligans: ignorant, naive, kinda sorta happy, and if that means running our boat into the rocks, so be it.

Perhaps it is the inevitable nature of a boat that some unseen vital portion of it must sit under the surface, out of sight but essential to keep us afloat. Cue the Jaws theme.

All aboard the drunk express
Bottles of wine in excess
Lines of gold to fill your holes
Holes so deep
Well no one knows

              -- Rebellious Paliptations, Spinnerette

8 comments:

troutking said...

You seem to have more interesting conversations at lunch than I do. Sometimes, though, as REO Speedwagon said so insightfully, "I Do'wanna Know."

I actually just won a $500 bet for using insightfully and REO Speedwagon in the same sentence.

John said...

I was witness to a conversation between two chaperoning parents on one of my daughter's school trips last year. After exhausting a boatload of politically conservative topics, somehow they ended up talking about the swingers' culture that exists in their upscale subdivision, speaking of it so casually that the message was that it was a non-issue since EVERYONE knows about it. I didn't know about it, though, and like Troutking, I wish I hadn't.

I think they have boats, come to think of it.

Bob said...

So if the boat is rockin', it may not be from the waves?

rodle said...

Hey John...what subdivision are you talking about?

John said...

Randy, why do you want to know? You thinking of a move?!

troutking said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Billy said...

@troutking - Seeing that our local intrepid TV reporter just Tweeted that "the song of the summer" is a song called "F**K You," I shouldn't be as hypersensitive to accurate names as I am, but please just for the sake of the illusion of semi-anonymity, refrain from using names specific to certain educational institutions. Help us keep pretending we're safe on BOYG.

@John - Who wants to move there? It's much better to just have your car accidentally break down there one night, and you just need to borrow a phone because yours isn't getting a signal (although it still takes nice pictures).

@Bob - Chickamauga Lake doesn't have waves. Not on the water, in any case.

TommyD said...

I thought boat people were from Vietnam.