Ron the Boat Guy



I want to tell you about Ron the Boat Guy

Ron, I should explain by way of background, is a boat guy. He walks, talks, eats, drinks, and breathes boats; and this, we think, probably explains his recent weight loss - boats have lots of fiber, but not a whole lot in the way of calories or vitamins. But I digress. Ron, you must understand, is a boat guy and this sometimes makes him just a little bit hard take in large doses if you are a member of either one of two, mutually exclusive, groups of people: (1) Boat Guys; or (2) Anyone Else.

Now, before the women take offense, I use the term 'guy' in this article as gender-neutral. It is a limitation of the current language that we don't have a corresponding female or inclusive term precisely corresponding to 'guy.' I briefly considered 'guyess' or 'dudette' or even 'gal' but decided that these smacked of condescention - and as we all know condescention encourages rot. But I digress.

Ron, as often happens, has a new boat and, as endlessly happens, he wanted to talk about it the other day. Apparently it was a very exciting boat because, as Ron so concisely phrased it: I'm very excited about this boat. The boat, I should explain on background, is yellow.

Now, it is a plain fact that some people like yellow more than others. Myself, I'm kind of neutral about yellow - I think it's a terrific color for lemons but not so good for cucumbers; everything in its place, in other words, and as regards boats I regard yellow as one of those colors which only Ron would regard as exciting. Some boats, and I freely grant this point, are yellow; and most of the others probably aren't but again, it all depends. Yellow kayaks are fine, but yellow aircraft carriers are probably a bad idea; don't even talk to me about submarines - there was man who sailed to sea in the town where I was born and he could just yak your ear off about them, don't even get me started. But I digress. On background, I should probably explain that the yellow boat had a nicked gun'l.

But here I find myself guilty of an ambiguity. For my British friends, I should explain that in this case, 'nicked' does not mean stolen or arrested. For my American friends, I should explain that in Britain, 'nick' means to steal or to arrest, or a police station or a prison or the devil or somebody you know well who happens to be named Nicholas. Actually, the Nicholas thing works stateside also. But here in this case I mean simply that the gun'l was slightly damaged, deeply scratched or marred but not structurally compromised; there was a small chunk missing from the gun'l, which was yellow - the gun'l was yellow, I mean, although presumably the missing gun'l shard was yellow on one side, though we cannot be sure because Ron didn't have the shard. I should explain on background that this nicked yellow gun'l was not really the part that excited Ron about the boat, but even so, it was a matter which weighed upon his mind and that is very important because none of us is real sure how much weight that particular structural element can really bear, you know, push come to shove, this being Ron and all.

So there we were, all focussed on the nick in the yellow gun'l, all us boat guys and Ron, the boat guy. The thing of it was, Ron explained, that this nick is really an unimportant detail - the boat overall was fine he said except for a few minor details, among which the nick was neither the biggest nor the smallest. Yet it seemed somehow that this one nick on the yellow gun'l on the yellow boat was of special concern to Ron, and so we all became interested by it. What, we all wondered, would Ron do about it; and how, we all wondered, would he make it worse? Ron, I should explain on background, has a nearly unbroken streak of breaking things he tries to fix - a streak which, true to form, he sometimes breaks, albeit rarely. But I digress.

The gun'l is wood, although the boat is mainly fiberglass. There was some discussion about what kind of wood it might be, but Ron held up his hand, palm out, with the index finger and middle fingers raised while the thumb wrapped around over the two smallest fingernails in a gesture often depicted in traditional images of Jesus or the Buddha; perhaps you know the gesture - it is an ancient symbol of spiritual generosity; and yet when Ron so gestured it meant something more limited and earthbound. When Ron raised his hand, somewhat frantically I recall thinking, he communicated only this: Be quiet fellas this; after all he was being very generous in sharing his knowledge and, perhaps, a bit of his inner being and his deepest self, such as it is in Ron's case. After all, Ron is by religion a Boat Guy and the boon he wished to bestow was a boat boon, which I think I should spell boatb'n or perhaps even b'tb'n, for this is the sense in which he seemed to be bestowing it. Ron, I should explain on background, might be described in precise psychological terms as 'shoal,' but I digress.

The kind of wood in the nicked yellow gun'l on the yellow fiberglass boat was, Ron solemnly informed us, half-round.

Well, we all agreed, that seemed reasonable, even if some of us wondered privately whether it should therefore more properly be called a rubrail, or rubr'l, or maybe rubble. Others wondered privately if a dab of yellow paint wouldn't fix the whole big deal just like that, while still others wondered privately if they could think of a credible excuse to leave the conversation, and I suspect that thoughts of killing Ron fleetingly fleeted through the fleet of boat guys surrounding, if no longer intently listening to, Ron. I found myself wondering if the boat was yel'w, which oughta tell you something; but I digress.

Well, Ron had a problem, all righty. If it was, in the final analysis, a rubrail then its basic function was to rub, and in so doing might it not be nicked in the normal course of things? Perhaps, Ron offered, it was just as well that the gun'l (or rubr'l, we never really decided) was already nicked - he'd've felt just horrible marring an unmarred whatever-it-was. Somehow it never bothered him to further mar an already marred almost-anything, which is strange when you come to think about it, isn't it? Yet if he didn't fix it, it could admit moisture and we know that a piece of wood on a boat should have a coating that admits nothing.

But I digress.

Lew Clayman