by Ane Mulligan
When I think February, I think Valentine’s Day. When I think of Valentine’s Day, I think of lovers. When I think of lovers-stay with me here, I do have a point to this-I think of romantic heroes from books. But where do these amorous men come from? Don’t try to tell me real life. So, do they all come from our imaginations? Maybe the better word would be our fantasies-but I won’t go there for obvious reasons.
Borrowing a term from the late Kristy Dykes, my “hero husband” is a Brit. But don’t conjure up images of Hugh Grant. Believe me … not all Brits are romantic like him. I know. Don’t get me wrong; my Brit tries, but somehow he’s not the model for a novel hero.
What? You think I’m mean? No way. I’m just realistic. You want proof you say? All right … here’s what happened when my dear husband tried to plan a romantic Valentine’s Day.
He decided we’d take our boat out for a Valentine’s Day cruise. The Aney Lea (okay, I’ll give him that one; it was romantic to name the boat after me) bordered on small craft but was a respectable 25-foot and slept six. We had a lovely time as long as he stood with his eyes on the horizon to avoid getting seasick.
Don’t even ask why a man who gets seasick owned a boat. But as I was saying, we had a lovely time … that is until we came back.
At the end of a cruise, my job as first mate was to climb over the side of the bow rail and perch on the edge of the bow, hanging on to the railing. As we approached the dock, I’d wait until we were about three feet away then push off, leaping backwards onto the dock and keep us from crashing into it. The channel where our slip resided had a good current-a good strong current. That ran at a 45-degree angle to the dock, necessitating stellar mariner skills.
That evening as we pulled into the slip, the current was a bit stronger than normal. A storm was gathering in the Pacific, churning up the waters in between Catalina and Long Beach Harbor, where we kept our boat. An unexpected surge in the current caught the boat threw it in a swift collision course with the side of the dock.
To avoid a crash and possible hole in the side of the boat, my husband threw the boat into reverse.
Just as I made my leap.
I missed the dock.
Making a frantic grab for the railing, I managed by the grace of God to catch it. I hung there, legs swinging in a blind search for solid ground-the dock-and connecting with nothing but air and a little water.
Seeing my hands firmly welded to the bow rail, and because the present danger had been averted, my dear husband laughed himself silly. Are you beginning to see my point?
Fortunately for my Brit’s sake, a gentleman strolling along the dock and obviously not a Brit, saw my dilemma. Heroically-I’m sure his hair was blowing provocatively in the wind—he managed to reach my ankles and pulled me, and the boat, to safe mooring. All the time my husband’s laughter could be heard coming from the fly deck.
With my feet back on terra firma, I seriously entertained thoughts of murder and mayhem.
So you see, my dear husband is not the romantic hero of novels … unless perhaps, you wrote murder mysteries.
Oh, and just in case any of you are worried about the state of our marriage, this was, to ease your minds, four decades ago. My Brit still breathes.
Very carefully if we’re around boats.
Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. She’s a novelist, playwright, and humor columnist. Her debut book, Chapel Springs Revival, comes out in 2014. She lives in Suwanee, GA, with her husband and two very large dogs.