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#43. I once went whitewater rafting.

Actually, I'd like to go again. I know several people who raft all the time, so maybe I can sneak my way into one their trips again. The first time was fun, though the main source of adventure had little to do with the rapids.

My wife and I took the trip about six or seven years ago. It was a group outing with a bunch of people from her department at work. Most of us had never been rafting before, so we took on a fairly tame bit of river with just a few series of rapids. I ended up in a raft with my wife and a couple of girls from her lab. One of which was, um, rather large. I wouldn't normally mention such a thing, but it turns out to be important. So bear with me.

So, we get through the first couple of rapids okay, and we take a break. There are maybe six boats and a couple of kayaks on this trip, and we've probably been in the boats for an hour or so. At this point, the guides sent a couple of people ahead to spot us on the next stretch of whitewater, and to take pictures as we go past. So, the remaining experts gather us around and prep us -- you want to stay left here, and then paddle around the rock to the right there, and then head for the left fork, and we'll meet up at the end. Fine.

So we take off -- our boat's near the back of the pack, and we watch some of our friends skitter to the left, and then toward the rock on the right, and then it's our turn. Well. We paddle to the left, and into the rapid, where we get jostled around a bit. More than a bit, actually. For a few seconds, it's quite a chore to hold onto the paddle and stay in the boat. And apparently too great a chore for our, um, big-boned friend, who falls over into the water. I catch it out of the corner of my eye, and lean back to help. It seems that she's not quite all the way in the water; she's tumbled forward, but her legs -- and ass -- are still in the boat. Meanwhile, we're still running through this little bit of whitewater. Perfect.

So, not wanting her to do a faceplant into an onrushing rock or anything, I help her back into the boat. Or rather, I try to help her back into the boat. Unfortunately, with the slippery raft and an oar in one hand and the water whooshing by, I can't manage to do much more than grab the belt loop on the back of her jeans and lift her out of the water. Not onto the raft, you understand. Just out of the water. Mostly.

By now, we're pretty much out of the rocky area, and heading toward the rock on the right. Which we'd be doing whether we wanted to or not, since this girl is now acting as both a rudder and an anchor on the right side of the boat. So luckily, going to the right was in the plan already. Bit of luck, that. But now, the rest of us in the boat have just a few seconds to get her back in before we hit the next fast stretch, just on the other side of the rock. So my wife comes over to help, while the other girl tries to keep us on course. I finally manage to grab both a belt loop and a hand of the girl who's still half-overboard, and pull her back toward the boat. My wife pushes her from behind, and the girl gets a grip on the raft, and between the three of us, we heave her back into the boat. Face-first. And on top of me. Naturally.

This, of course, is when the guide decides to snap the picture of our boat.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. By comparison, anyway. But when we got back to the base, we saw that the pictures had already been developed and posted for us to see. Most of them had three or four smiling, happy faces. Some, taken in calmer water, even showed people waving or giving thumbs up to the camera. Real Kodak moments.

And ours? Well, way over on one side of the boat is a grim-faced girl with a paddle, trying desperately to control the raft. On the other side, you can see my wife's back and flailing arms, as she pushes on our friend coming back into the boat. As for the friend, all you can really see is her ass flying back into the raft, with her legs splayed and gyrating as she topples forward. And then there's me. You can just see my terrified, wide-eyed face over the girl's ass, as I realize that she's about to crash directly down onto me. I look like the guy in The Scream. It's quite a photo, let me tell you.

And yet, I'd go back. I'd love to go back, actually. It was really a lot of fun, despite the flailing and the splashing and the near-disaster. I just think I'll have to pick and choose who to go with a little more carefully. Medium-sized people. Strong, but wiry. That's what I'm looking for. See, if I knew that I could stay in the boat myself, then I'd go after little itty-bitty people, to make it easier to help them. But given that mine might be the next fat ass that needs hauling out of the water, I think I'd better have at least a little muscle on board. Maybe that way, I'll at least be back in the boat when the picture's snapped. I think we see quite enough of my ass as it is. Don't need it on film, thanks just the same.

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