by Cindy Wiggins-Tapia

On one of those days when there was shiny yellow in the black on the lake,  we came close to becoming nom noms for giant catfish…

One of the things that didn’t get it with me at the lake was the drink situation. They never skimped on food. Coffee, biscuits and sausage or bacon and pancakes at breakfast. Sandwiches for lunch and dinner and on rare Saturday nights pork chops. But, we girls were allowed only a certain number of cans of Coke per day while Mama and Daddy sat around quaffing tallboy Budweisers. No matter how much they drank it was never enough, and there was never enough money to buy more. So, a light bulb went off in Mama’s head, as it did every decade or so. She ditched the Real Thing and bought a case of several flavors of the bitter-tasting canned counterfeit swill.

When we camped alone or with the wrong kind of friends, they would get sick-drunk, and the safety of my baby sisters hinged on me. I didn’t mind. I was old in the womb.

It was a different situ when the good folks were around. You couldn’t find better people than their close friends and our family. One Sunday we were pooting around the Dam with Tony and Jalaine Smith when we surfed up on a rogue wave and almost capsized.  Daddy somehow kept us afloat, denying the giant catfish below a tasty sweet tater Cindy nom nom.

Mama and Daddy thereafter were reluctant to take the boat out among the jam of cabin cruisers and houseboats and scoundrel combers. That  September, Daddy traded the V-hull for a W at Kelly’s Marina boat dealership between Flowery Branch and Buford Hwy. The boat had a white hull, baby-blue interior, Evinrude kicker, and a wee locker which Daddy was delirious about. How  they pulled that it off on a the a Sunday in that pre-electronic era is disgusting, but the paperwork was a done-deal by 6 pm they loaded up their new toy and off we went.

Night fell. It turned cold. We got lost. Naturally. Daddy went zipping in and out of coves, trying to find the dock where our car was parked. He would slip alongside houseboats.

“Ahoy there!” he’d shout and ask for directions.

One captain looked at him as if he were crazy.  I was so embarrassed I wanted to jump into Daddy’s prized locker and slam the hatch. The temp went from cold to frosty, and Mama made we girls drink Schlitz Malt licker to keep warm  Daddy finally found the right cove, but lake weeds got tangled in the propeller. Doo wat ditty ditty. He had to jump overboard and free it up.

They were so thrilled with the new boat that they dumped the tent and bought a spanking brand new tow camper trailer so I could be miserable in style.

What really fries my grits even today is the fact they couldn’t figure out why I hated the lake so much.

“Most kids would give their eyeteeth for just a single campout.” Daddy would admonish me.

La dee da.

I am persuaded they were too wrapped up in their pleasure to see what they were doing to us.

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