There were probably about ten of us, gathered amiably around the table, enjoying supper, conversation and each other’s company. I was seated near the end of the table with about four others in close proximity. Directly above us, a full-sized boat was suspended from the ceiling. It had been on my mind ever since we sat down.
I waited for someone to mention it. No one did, so during dessert, I asked, “Is anyone worried about that boat? Has anyone else been wondering what would happen if the cables suddenly failed? If the boat or part of the boat came crashing down?“
Several sets of eyes turned to me simultaneously. “Boat? What boat?”
“The one up there. Above us, hanging from the ceiling,” I said, pointing with my spoon. Everyone looked up.
“Oh, that boat. I didn’t even know it was there.”
“Nope, it’s not bothering me,” said another.
“Really, you’re not thinking about what might happen if it hasn’t been engineered properly? How the boat or part of the boat might come crashing down? You’re not thinking about what if the engineer had a fight with her husband the morning she reviewed the specs, and how she might have missed the fact that the beam could not support the weight of the boat for an extended period of time? Or how maybe the person who installed it didn’t tighten the bolts properly? You haven’t thought of how the entire roof might cave in? How it might land? You haven’t thought about how it would kind of have a splash effect and how we’d be in the middle of the splash and not have the time to move out of the way because we’d be caught up in the table and chairs, but about how everyone in this section would rise as one and how chairs would be overturned and maybe, tables, too? And you haven’t thought about the clatter of dishes and the screaming and the noise? And you haven’t thought about the location of the waitress when this happened and whether or not she would be carrying a tray at that exact moment? “
All forks, all coffee cups, all conversation stopped in a moment of suspended animation. It was as if someone had pressed the “pause” button on a YouTube video: eyes bugged, mouths open, all staring at me.
Someone broke the silence with a single syllable. “Nope,” and just as quickly, animation resumed and we continued to consume the Orgasmic Chocolate Fudge Brownie Sundaes.
“Really? No one?”
Everyone shook her head. They looked at me sympathetically. “You really are weird, you know that?” someone said, kindly.
“But what if it happened? What if it happened, even right now, while we’re talking about it?”
“Sue, it is not going to happen…”
“I’m not worried, but ‘what if’?”
“You just have too much imagination.”
“Not really. People think I have an imagination, but I’m not a bit creative. I’m just saying what might happen, how we probably wouldn’t even see it coming until it was too late.”
She shook her head sadly, “You’re weird.” No one contested that opinion.
That’s when it occurred to me that maybe my take on things isn’t quite as normal as I thought it was. But seriously, if there’s a boat hanging over your head, don’t you start to estimate things like weight and velocity and trajectory, and can’t you just see what might happen? Doesn’t it play like a little movie in your head, and can’t you go back and change itsy-bitsy parts so different things happen? Is that weird?
- © 2013 Sue Farrell Holler