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If you can get on the thing, paddleboarding is pretty great

By Tracy Curtis
Tracy Lee Curtis
Tracy Lee Curtis is a humorist, writer and speaker. She writes family humor for the Charlotte Observer. Her column appears each Sunday.

Okay, I’m back from vacation. Can you believe I’ve been paddleboarding this whole time? No I haven’t. But I did try it. That’s the cool thing about summer.

They won’t let me come back to Camp Greystone – something about an age limit. But they can’t stop me from trying new activities during my summer.

So – SUP. When I first see this printed on my paddleboard, I think it’s a question and I look right at it and say, “I’ll tell you sup, it’s ME. On top of this board in about five minutes, that’s what’s SUP!”

Turns out it stands for Stand Up Paddling. And I need more than five minutes. This thing’s not stable. I should have practiced on something. Like maybe an ironing board, laid over a bed of marbles.

I figure crawling onto it is the way to go. But if you put your right hand and right knee down, you tip over to the right. Both hands down, tips you forward. Both knees, tips you back. You really need to put one hand and the opposite knee down at the same time, but I left the Twister mat back at the house. So I just lie down and hump onto it like a seal.

If my paddle weren’t trapped under me I wouldn’t stand up. But seeing as how there’s a 42-foot yacht anchored ahead, I scramble to all fours. And hope I drift into it in time for happy hour.

My kids paddle by and remind me this is a sport, not a water park ride. So I shake and quiver up to standing, as a couple whizzes by in a paddleboat, rippling the water beneath me. Now I know why this is such a great workout. When you’re fighting to stay mounted to a piece of slippery plastic by white-knuckling with your toes, you’re gonna use a few muscles. I’ve never been so happy to have a hammer toe.

And then it’s fun. Once my muscles relax and my toes uncurl, it’s actually pretty awesome. It’s scenic and quiet, and it’s a unique sensation because it’s like you’re walking across water. And your children can’t touch you.

But you can’t touch them either. So when my son falls off his board, I’m helpless. Thankfully, he pops right back up. And all I can think is: No way I’ll be able to hook my hammer toe around this board tight enough to pull myself back on if I have to go in after somebody.

And then time is up, and I paddle slowly back to the dock. I take a different tack on my dismount – I figure best to just slam right into the dock and jump. Works great, just hold your paddle low so it doesn’t hit people in the teeth.

Now about that happy hour …

tcurtis@charlotteobserver.com
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