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Bob O’Connor: The great outdoors isn’t all that great

A friend of mine had a “lifetime” membership to a place called Rainbow Lake down in East Otto; I think it is now called Enchanted Mountains. Several years ago, he invited me and the family to spend the day there.

We have seven kids between us (separately, not together) and they had a great time, but I was out of my element. I have never been a fan of trees, the sun, mosquitoes and all the other stuff you find outdoors. I brought a book to read.

My host would have none of it and insisted that we go boating on the lake. Honestly, I would rather donate bone marrow than go floating on one of those little aluminum numbers. If I go out on a body of water, I want something more substantial under me than half an inch of the same material I wrap leftovers in.

When we got to the area generously referred to as the marina, I was offered the choice of a boat or something called a pedal boat. This thing is a park bench strapped to a couple of oil drums. It has two sets of pedals and a big paddle wheel in back and is powered by the fools who rented it. I didn’t want to look like something from a Dr. Seuss book, so I opted for the aluminum death trap.

“Mike,” I told my friend, “I am totally clueless when it comes to boating. I don’t know my aft from my elbow!”

“Nothing to worry about,” he assured me. “I’ve been doing this for years.”

So we were given a couple of oars and life jackets and the kid from the boat shop walked us out to the dock.

“Pick any one you want,” he said seriously as we looked over a dozen identical boats.

“I’d like the one with a bathroom, a kitchen, GPS and ship-to-shore radio,” I said.

I chose boat 13, since it seemed appropriate, and climbed aboard clutching my life jacket like it really was going to be a lifesaver. Mike then attempted to get in the boat by stepping on the side. The boat tipped and began to take on water while my old buddy grabbed a piling while trying to pull the boat out of the water with his foot. Rental boy ran over and pulled Mike onto the pier as I slowly sank to my watery grave.

While my friend was laughing hysterically, the poor kid from the marina looked like he was going to spit up. I was now up to my waist in water and just sort of floated away as the boat dropped out of sight. I figured I could survive by doing a back float until help arrived. Although I can’t swim a stroke, God made me extremely buoyant. Michael Phelps may have a 6½-foot wingspan, but I have a rear end the Kardashians would envy.

I then stood up and realized the water was only 3 feet deep and I was sinking into the black, icky lake bottom. With as much dignity as I could muster, I tried to walk to shore, still clutching my life preserver. My sneaker got stuck in the mud when I tried to walk. I pulled my foot up and the sneaker stayed behind. I then turned and the second sneaker decided to stay in the muck. I was in the La Brea tar pits.

It occurred to me later, as we dried out the contents of my wallet, that archeologists will someday discover my sneakers and footprints and conclude that I must have been part of some sacrificial rite. I will go down in history as Rainbow Man, the guy who inexplicably backed into the lake and drowned, leaving only his footwear behind.