Nine girls soaking wet, a submerged boat, a dislocated thumb and a trip to the hospital.
A Cornish proverb runs, “He who will not be ruled by the rudder must be ruled by the rock.”
It had all started out well enough as most disasters do.
The sky was clear, mostly. The lake was flat, for the most part. The coach in the Boston Whaler powered by a 70-horse Johnson outboard was certainly experienced and the boat more than adequate to accompany the crew in the old wooden shell, all 62 feet of it – six inches more if you count the rudder.
Having grown up on the lake and knowing how things can change I said “I wouldn’t go north,” jerking my thumb upward in a southerly direction.
The dark, ominous looking cloud approaching from the south – given the directional breeze indicated by the flag – was worth more than a passing thought.
The coach glanced at the sky.
And took the team north.
A mile-and-a-half warm-up row and they’d reached the northern end of the lake, turned around, and that’s when the coach saw it coming.
The sky was growing dark, much darker than when they’d begun their early morning row. The breeze was becoming a blow, the flat water turning ferocious. In just a very few minutes, seconds really, the approaching white-caps would begin licking at the gunnels.
They tried to row it home but they made little progress against the wind, made even more difficult given the sluggishness of the shell in the water – filling as it was with every crashing wave, sinking lower and lower.
They weren’t going to make it.
Turning to the nearest shore they became broadside to the angry water that in turn delivered broadside after broadside with every smashing wave.
They weren’t going to make shore either.
In an attempt to save the old wooden eight, all nine rowers – including the coxswain – were ordered overboard. All then counted off and all nine noses were accounted for.
Swimming awkwardly alongside, one white-knuckled hand grasping whatever was available – oar, rigger or shell – the other hand flailing about, gulping air and spewing water, the nine kicked, swore, and tugged the boat-turned-beast eventually to shore, staggering upright and dragging as much of the old – and now much heavier – waterlogged and once-proud product of an even older craftsman’s hands.
Having shepherded her flock to safety, the coach ill-advisedly – as she would admit very shortly – attempted to moor the 17’ Whaler by approaching the nearest dock downwind. That’s when her thumb got caught between dock and Whaler and the wail of pain could be heard plainly even above the wind.
Towels and blankets were already on their way down the slopping lawn from the home above whose resident had watched the scene unfold, and all – with the exception of the coach who would be taken to emergency – were returned to where the adventure had begun what seemed so long ago.
In a somewhat similar analogy, given last night’s on-stage antics at the MTV Video Music Awards, Lady Gaga is rudderless; has ignored ill-fated winds; and like other used and discarded celebrities will find herself one day, most likely sooner than later, having abandoned ship, if not tossed overboard, and nearing the rock-strewn has-been celebrity graveyard shore.
“Move over, Madonna. Look out, Lady Gaga. Miley Cyrus has arrived, and the 20-year-old underwear-wearing, strip-act-strutting musical maven has brought shock performance to a new level.”
There was no mention, in this “Washington Times” review by Cheryl K. Chumley, as to whether that “new level” was up or down.
But given the “cringe-worthy” and “raunch fest” descriptions of the Times and other publications, chances are down, way down, is the direction of travel that viewers have in mind.
In a two-part series on Marilyn Monroe this past June – in which the trajectories of Brittany Spears, Anna-Nicole Smith, Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox and more are traced in flame-out status – “The Vigilant Citizen” suggests there’s a similar pattern to a falling star.
Glamorous sex symbols all, “why do the most iconic figures in our pop culture often end up living tragic lives? Is it because there is something terribly wrong in the entertainment industry?”
Here’s how “most recognizable sex symbol of all times” summed it up:
“Hollywood is a place where they pay you 50,000 dollars for a kiss and 50 cents for your soul” – Marilyn Monroe.