Snap! That’s the nineteenth photo album I’ve invaded today!
That’s right, nineteen! And the day is young. There’s a whole train of yahoo’s unloading as we speak, and as the river is between them and their lunch, I am bound to end up in a few more. And it’s only Monday!
My photo awaits inside photo albums on coffee tables all over the county. Maybe I’ve even gone international!
If you paddle rivers in tourist zones, or rivers that share space with hiking, biking, walking, and picnicking, it’s a sure bet that you have had your picture taken by strangers. They are especially fond of
roosting on bridges, where they can not only point their lens at your
dome, but also shout questions at you like:
“Can you do an eskimo roll!”
“Don’t you get wet?”
“What IS that thing?”
“Where are your legs?”
“How come you only have one oar?”
“Where’s the motor go?”
“Aren’t you cold”
“Are you wearing a wetsuit?”
“What’s that smell?”
One day an elderly lady was taking pictures of my father and I as we were playing in the play hole by the Nantahala Outdoor Center. After getting her shot, she screamed down at me, “Why?!” When I asked her
“why what?” She said, “Why does he go back in there every time he
manages to escape?” I thought a minute and then said, “I don’t know!”
Non-boaters, or as I like to call them, “dry siders”, have a certain fascination with what we as whitewater boaters do. It’s not that most of them would like to trade places with us. In fact, it’s usually the
opposite. They are in utter shock that anyone would purposefully allow
river water to touch them and their clothing. I’ll admit, I have a
weird fondness for the stink of river gear that dry siders don’t.
The way I see it, there are three ways to act when your spider sense tingles and you realize someone you don’t know is taking your picture.
1: Act natural. Essentially, be so cool, you don’t need to acknowledge there is a camera pointed at you. Perhaps this is what the dry sider wants anyway. They are trying to snap a picture of the wild
beast in its natural habitat after all, not some simulated play park.
2: Perform. So what if the water is 48 degrees? These people want a show gosh darn it! So you pretend that they came around just as you were conveniently planning on throwing a massive bow stall into a cold
water face plant finished by what every dry sider truly desires to
see….an eskimo roll. ”Golly Paw, he did that flip around thingy just
like ‘dem es-skee-moes on that national geographic show!”
3: Sabotage. For some, the thought of being in yet another photo they will never see is too much. So, they do what others do whenever someone tries to take an unwanted photo. Ruin it.
“Oop, sorry! Didn’t see you taking my picture or I would never have chosen that moment to blow this two foot snot rocket. But, a boaters got to do what a boaters got to do.”
“Huh? Yes, I always scratch my arm pits when traveling through rapids.”
“Nah. I em nut schticking meh tongue et you. I em airing meh tongue out.”
“What face? That’s just how I look when I concentrate”
“Is that a bear behind you!” <when they look away, roll> “Sorry, I can’t possibly do that more than once a day or my life jacket will shrink.”
“I wasn’t picking…I had an itch.”
So next time you see someone on shore, remember that you have choices. It is up to you to decide whether or not you will humor or horrify. For many, you will forever recirculate in someone else’s