Everybody had arrived at the lake separately, but as soon as we’d all gotten there, we made our way down to the beach as one big group. Dan and Megan had invited us all to come to check out their new jet boat, and we’d decided to make a day of it, so everyone had brought food and games and any other fun beach activity they thought we might enjoy.
We ate as soon as everybody’s food was done cooking, though some of us had been better about waiting than others. When I finally sat down to start eating, I looked over at my friend Greg’s plate to find that his food was already almost gone. He just grinned at me and continued shoveling food into his mouth. I couldn’t exactly blame him because it all looked really good, so I quickly followed his example.
By the time everyone had finished, Dan had already announced that we’d be playing a little beach volleyball next. It only took us a few minutes to decide on teams, and then we were all taking our places in the sand. Dan was captaining one team, and I was head of the other, and we’re both pretty competitive, so it was guaranteed to be a pretty lively match.
The ball flew back and forth, up and down, over and under the net, both teams sweating form the efforts of keeping it aloft until it had crossed the net. It was hard won, but in the end, my team came out on top. Dan, ever the sore loser, challenged us to a rematch almost immediately. I looked to my team to see if they were up for another game, and when it was decided that they were, we all settled back into position.
By the time the second game got underway, there was actually a fair amount of people that had begun to show up on the beach around us. As we batted the ball back and forth, many of the other visitors started crowding around us and cheering for one team or the other. If we’d been playing hard before, the new audience participation drove us to up our games even more. The second game ended up lasting almost twice as long as the first, but amazingly enough, my team was able to pull ahead and claim the victory again. Dan still didn’t look too pleased, but he had to admit we won each game fair and square. I tried to offer him a good-natured handshake, but he merely pulled me under his arm and dragged me along as he led the rest of the group down to the boat.
And what a beautiful boat it was. Streamlined for speed and decked out with some pretty nice new features, it looked like a dream floating there on the water, and all of us were eager to test it out. Apparently, I was a little too eager, because I didn’t notice Dan slipping away from my side. I remained completely oblivious to his actions as he snuck around behind me and forcefully planted both hands into my back, sending me flying off the edge of the dock.
Suddenly, my world was upside down and very, very wet. There was water in my mouth and up my nose, and everywhere I looked. I kicked hard and finally managed to make it to the surface, spluttering and gasping when I got there. And the first thing I heard once I’d shaken all the water from my ears was the sound of Dan’s howling laughter. I spotted him on the dock, doubled over with his hands on his knees, eyes filling with tears. Megan was throwing me an apologetic glance as she smacked her boyfriend on the shoulder and told him to help me back up. It took him a second to catch his breath, but he finally climbed down onto the boat and helped pull me aboard.
Once everyone else had boarded the boat, Dan fired up the engine and began steering us out and around the lake. Being the showoff that he was, he gunned it so that the boat was flying close to top speed and the wind was blasting through everyone’s hair. Megan even lost her hat, earning Dan another smack on the shoulder. Before long, someone was suggesting we put someone out on the water skis piled in the front of the boat. I was aware that Dan and I were the only ones who could drive the boat, so I decided to see if I couldn’t get a little revenge on my dear friend for the little dip he’d given me earlier.
“Dan,” I called to him, “Why don’t you show us how it’s done?”
Never one to back down from a challenge, Dan puffed out his chest and nodded his head, eager to put his skills on display. He tethered the skis to the bar on the boat and strapped his feet in before sliding out of the boat to hang off its rear with his feet in the water. I took my place behind the wheel, and when he gave me the thumbs up, I gently eased the boat along at a steady speed.
I let it cruise along like that for a little while, making sure Dan felt perfectly comfortable with that speed and the pretty straight path we were carving through the water. Then, as soon as I saw him take one hand off the tether to wave at all of us in the boat, I yanked the wheel into a hard right turn and absolutely gunned it. The look of sheer terror on Dan’s face before he went plunging into the water was enough to get me laughing just as hard as he had earlier. When his head popped back up above the water, I only had one thing to say to him.
“Now we’re even, pal!”