Real friends fall in Lake Merritt together

>> Sunday, August 15, 2010

Oakland’s Lake Merritt is one of my favorite places in the world. I have great childhood memories of Childrens Fairyland, Festival at the Lake, and just walking with my mom. (I also remember falling in the lake back in the late 80s. Maybe I'll tell you that story some day)

Today, over two decades later, I fell in the lake again. Uggh.

Sometime this afternoon, I got the urge to go rowing at the Lake Merritt Boathouse. My usual rowing partner, Caps, was busy packing for his move back to DC. So I hit up my dearest Saba the G. She was down.

Cool. I ride my Deebo (see, bike) to the Lake. As I wait for Saba, I see my Geography professor from Merritt College. We chop it up a bit about Kemet (Egypt). She asks if I used any geography while out there. Not really, but I was aware of the environment.

When Saba arrives, we make the reservation. We decide to get the Double Kayak. I’ve often kayaked by myself, but it’s been a minute since I did a double kayak.

After switching vests (I grabbed the XL while she grabbed the 2XL), we call the women over for our double kayak. We ask for another paddle since only one was near the boat.

We climb down to the lower platform. Saba gets in first, up front, I later sit down in back. As we hop into the kayak, Saba asks, “Does this ever tip over?” The woman says something about it being unlikely, or whatever.

While paddling out of the alcove, Saba keeps complaining about her little paddle. I’m looking at it, thinking it’s the same size, but I keep paddling.

We decide to switch paddles. Saba swiftly lifts hers over her head, and hands it back to me. I grab the paddle, and hand her mines.

“Much better,” she says.

Other possible titles for this blog post:
  • How Reginald James fell in Lake Merritt (again)
  • Ain't that a b*tch, I fell in the Lake
  • Don't go swimming in Lake Merritt (I did)
  • I know what Lake Merritt tastes like
Meanwhile, I’m in the back dripping water on myself due to the midget paddle. (No offense to my Ding people).

“Let’s go back and get a bigger paddle. I can’t kayak with this little ass kid’s paddle,” I say. We turn around and head back. When we ask for a paddle, they say they have no more.

I suddenly realize that the grip edges had been adjusted. I push it outwards and, “Whoop there it is!” I have enough room to paddle. We quickly begin turning left, as we had already moved back towards the boathouse platform/walkway. As we turned we kept gaining speed. We both paddled on the right side, turn ourselves left and moving forward. We quickly approached the boats on the side.

As we paddled to push ourselves left, suddenly we tipped over.


We in the water. Dirty-ass-Lake-Merritt-water.. Ugghh!

“OMG” Saba yells, laughing. “Ugggh.” We fell in Lake Merritt. Get me out this water.”

Mind you, I've been fasting for Ramadan. No food or water (among other things) in the daytime. But now, I got nasty Oakland pond water in my mouth. Fortunately, I didn't swallow any. For health's sake, and my fast.

We quickly grab our now capsized kayak. I flap my soaked tennis shoe-flippers towards the edge and pull myself up. After I climb out onto the ledge, I help Saba out the water. I notice her purse, slightly open. I pull it out the water too, as she lays on the platform. Her upper body from her waist laid on the platform, while she held her legs and feet above the water.

“Damn, my cell phone,” I think. Suddenly, I feel the phone vibrating in my pocket non-stop. I pull it out my pocket. The screen was all white. Damn, this the second phone this week. I quickly pull the battery out. The woman who set us up, I mean, helped us get in the kayak takes our phones and goes to dry them off.

As we sit on the platform soaking, Saba pouring water out her shoes, she starts cracking up.

“At least I ain’t have a perm.” Wow. What a sport! A real G.

The guy working on the dock, trying to console us, says, “I fell in last week.” Uh huh.

We walk back to take off our life vests. Looking down at our soaked clothes. I say, “Pedal boats?”

“Hell naw. I’m going home.” She said. “Did you take the bus here?” Damn. I can only imagine what I'd look (smell) like taking AC Transit home.

“No, I rode my bike,” I respond.

“I’m taking you home,” she said, taking off towards the parking lot. I walk back to the office to get my ID (and refund). Mind you, I used to go rowing weekly, so I know my face is familiar.

As soon as I walk in, the woman behind the counter slowly looks up. Suddenly, she starts cracking up. “I tried to keep a straight face,” she said. “You wasn’t even out there for five minutes.”

They give me my ID, and my money back. I’ve seen similar incidents, people don’t usually get they money back.

I walk back to the car. Saba’s white t-shirt drenched. “I look like I won a wet tee shirt contest.”

Saba’s Blackberry was tripping. Plus, he digital camera wasn’t working. On the ride back home, Saba says, “Man, I can’t even tweet about it.”

Once Sista Africa gives me a ride home, I take off my seat belt and look at her.

“You ain’t getting no hug she says!” Hahaha. My mystic, mind-reading sister. I reach over and hug her close. Allowing the duck poop and toxic sewage to marinate between us.

I go inside. Take off all the wet clothes and throw them washer and shower up. Dry off and go outside. I still have to get my bike.

I was late for the bus. Luckily, AC Transit runs late on weekends. As soon as I come out the house, I see the bus down the block. I sprint to the bus stop on 5th and Lincoln. When I get there, I see a brother standing outside the L-I-Q (corner store). He says, “You still got it!” I laugh, lightly winded. “It’s good to be in shape,” he says, pulling out a Black and Mild.

I take the bus downtown and walk back to the boathouse. I go back to the bike rack. Before I grab my bike, the lady inside looks at me and laughs again.

How I fell in Lake Merritt in 1987
One day, I was at Lake Merritt with my mom. We were feeding bread crumbs to the ducks. Well, all the big ducks crowded near the lake's edge and were taking all the crumbs. According to my mom, "the first was when you were 5 trying to lean over the edge so the 'little ducks get some food,' AFTER I told you to not lean so close to the edge." I'd leaned towards to edge to throw the crumbs out further to the little ducks in the back. I leaned too close. I fell in the lake. Fortunately, I'm one of the 4 out of 10 Black children who could swim. I doggy-paddled to the edge, towards my mother's roaring laughter.
“I had to come back to get my bike,” I said. “Don’t worry, we’ll be back again.”

As I reflect on this experience, I have to smile about my growing friendship. Many women would have been flashing hella hard, crying and carrying old. Not only did Saba soldier up, but she was laughing about it too. Now, if she had that perm that might not have been the case.

They say real friends stick with you through thick and thin. Me and Sista Africa fell in the lake together. And I bet she's down to go back.

I hope everything works out with her phone and camera. Right now, I’m trying some “Put your wet phone in rice” method I saw on You Tube. Nonetheless, there is no one else I’d rather have fallen in the lake with.

I just hope that we don't mutate.



Amirah A. August 17, 2010 at 5:19 AM  

:) This is a nice story of your lake merritt experience, Reginald. Good laugh!
I just hope you all went to the doctor afterward! :)
P.East & Love,
Amirah A.

Mike August 17, 2010 at 12:08 PM  

Great read, I didn't know you had a blog but I got it in my RSS reader now. Glad u and sis came out of it mutation free & with smiles.

MaxAllstadt August 17, 2010 at 12:12 PM  

Get a tetanus booster, Reginald. Seriously.

Karen,  August 17, 2010 at 2:53 PM  

This story is all wet! How did Saba's camera turn out? I dropped my phone & camera in Arroyo Viejo Creek - the phone works fine now, but my camera screen is dead. Oh well, it's all water under the bridge.

Reginald James August 18, 2010 at 12:12 PM  

Thanks, y'all. I prayed on it and have a clean bill of health.

As for Saba's camera, Karen, I'll find out when we link up this week. I think the card works, though.

Feisty Femme February 8, 2011 at 7:37 PM  

just stumbled on this. Good read and made me smile! Thanks for blogging

Reginald James February 8, 2011 at 10:27 PM  

Thanks, Feisty.

Good News! Saba's phone and camera both work. My phone later started working, but both a phone between that time.

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Insight into my daily regimen. Obviously of a different specimen. Me, myself & I. So fly. Welcome to the Daily Regiment.

This blog is an outlet for me to write about my life experiences. While there will be consistent themes in my writing -- because I am what I project in written form -- the topics will vary from day to day, and post to post.

If you are interested in my formal news reporting, you can visit The Reginald James Report or The Black Hour.

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