I Missed the Boat
– by Ben Keefe
I am at an age where I feel like I’ve missed the boat. I’m not even 25 years old. Part of the reason for this feeling is that I’ve recently encountered a splash of depression. Just a splash, like a nice cool lemonade on an ideal beach day. But instead of lemonade, I feel like I’ve wasted my 20s doing nothing and I’ll spend the rest of my life regretting the opportunities I passed up. So I guess that’s more like Ginger Ale.
The good thing about having a splish-splash of depression is that over time you’ll come out on the other end, grateful for the true happiness that life does offer. I’m a firm believer that life should be AMAZING and that everyone ought to be bursting at the seems with joy and making out with each other. Without depression though, I wouldn’t be able to express these thoughts and feelings that are going through my “Popular Science” body (as opposed to a “Men’s Fitness” body, which I do not have). So I’m going to try and cram all this poop in here before I get happy.
Before we talk about the phrase “Miss the Boat”, and what it means, let’s talk about boats.
Boats are expensive. You need a place to put them. If you do an amazon.com search for boats, you get a selection of inflatable boats, because you’re not responsible enough to have a real one.
These aren’t the type of boats you want either. The boats you can buy on amazon are the boats used to rescue drunk party-goers in the middle of a lake. If you don’t mind some one throwing up necklaces and fancy car keys (the things boat people are made of) behind you as you drive them to shore, this is the boat for you!
The closest I’ve come to owning my own boat was during my cousin’s wedding. My two sisters, and a few other cousins of mine, were seated around a table during the after-wedding-whatever. One of the cousins had the wonderful idea to start passing around a flask. I drank my share, felt dizzy, then drank more. The nautical connection is that during this time I was wearing boat shoes. Drinking on land gave me the sense of power that a boat owner would have, and the ceremony became – in my mind- a celebration of another successful voyage. I did it when you all thought I couldn’t, you fuckers!
Okay, back to the phrase in question. Missing the Boat implies that there was an opportunity, and you did not take it. Some Boats are okay to pass up on, especially the ones filled with naughty rule breakers. This includes folks who give personal training services at the Y, but are not employed by the gym. Stop fucking things up! But most Boats are filled with fun, experience, opportunity and surprises. You want to ride those boats. You want to be an explorer who is so full of life that they would never even question going on the Boat. In fact these people are so adventurous that they are the Boat themselves.
You cannot Miss the Boat if you are the Boat.
Unless you commit suicide, I guess.
I’ve recently begun to think that what I’ve accomplished in life does not qualify as Catching the Boat. I’ve studied abroad, graduated college, started and maintained my first relationship, and pursued my dream career of being in comedy. That looks good written down, but inside, it doesn’t feel like anything special. Part of this is because none of that is particularly flashy or alluring. They’re important, they define who I am, but I don’t have anything to show for it.
Part of Catching the Boat is that you want to have something to show for it.
Like a real boat, you want to have a physical object that says something about you, ideally to others. If you have a girlfriend, it helps to show her off in ways that say “Ahh, look at that ass! It’s so toned it could kill me!” If you have a job you want to be able to buy things that say “Ahh, look at her ass! It looks so good with that thing I bought for it!” It’s no coincidence that you can show off all these things on an actual boat. You can even yell out “Ahh, look in that ass!” to absolutely no one, and it’s fine, because you’re on a boat.
We’re all given a certain set of skills that, through hard work, can turn into a career. My greatest skill is anxiety.
I can make it happen any time at any place. It is my magic, the way Matt Lauer’s legs are his. Anxiety can build mental walls in your head that can prevent you from doing basic things. At a certain point in my life, anxiety prevented me from reaching my potential as a sociable young-person. I over-thought friendships, ended potential relationships, and stayed indoors far too often. I stayed inside so much one summer, that I crept into that year’s school picture of myself, and didn’t come out till September.
Anxiety is like having a committee of concerned parents in your head at all times. If you’re about to do something the committee doesn’t approve of, those mom and dads get rowdy. They claw at your face and kick you in the stomach. They’re angry because they never had a full life, and they certainly don’t want you to. Are they afraid of Boats? You’re goddamn right they are.
In recent years, I’ve become much better at managing my anxiety, so I’m now curious as to how one Catches the Boat. Based on my research, I’ve concluded the following. First off, it helps to have a tan.
A tan can mean many things. It can say “I’m a healthy, athletic individual that enjoys making a family with my genitals.” It can also say “I’m a sly sociopath that hides my alcoholism through my confident outward appearance.”
For each of these examples, a nice tan is a building block towards bigger and better things. Once you have a tan, you’ll want to have some money too.
Money is acquired by doing things other people expect you to do, and is used mainly to purchase Reese’s Puffs cereal. Finally, in order to board the Boat, you need to not care about others. This requires a lot of pushing, so get those arm muscles nice and toned. You’re going to be pushing over all kinds of people en route to the Boat, so you’ll need some practice.
A great way to hone this skill is to head to your nearest Ferris wheel and push everyone on your way to the line’s front. Be sure to bring your family, so they can see what a strong, noble leader you are. Once you’re safe on board, you’ll be able to make racist comments towards other passengers, while in the company of loved ones.
As I don’t have the means to Catch the Boat, I’m now left to figure out what my next step is. Don’t think because I’m not interested in Boats, that I won’t do anything. I’m not planning on spending my life in a dark living room, day after day, until I look like a Civil War veteran. I want to do what interests me and what makes me happy. I want to learn about stuff. I want to play baseball on top of a mountain. I want to get so old and curmudgeonly that my body looks like the word “lousy”. I want to spend summers listening to Creedence with friends, as we talk about friend things, like apples and throwing knives. I’ll do all of this on my own terms.
Eventually, I’ll forget that Boats even exist, and I’ll be all the happier for it.
One last thing, if you think I have a poor attitude and that it can be cured by a trip on a “real” boat, please don’t waste your time.
I’m terrified of drowning and I’m equally scared to be on a boat with someone who says things like “This is life changing, isn’t it?” No it’s not, and your shorts are dumb.