IN SEARCH OF BIG SHIPS
AND BIG GAMES
About ten years ago, when my daughters were 14 and
15 years old, I dragged them kicking and screaming to the Mill Valley
Memorial Day Parade.
Their little brothers were thrilled to be going,
but the teenage girls were having a bit of a problem with it. I couldnít
understand why they wouldnít want to spend the day bonding with their
As we watched the 27th antique fire
truck rumble by, the 14-year-old turned to me, and said, "Dad, look
I assumed she had finally seen something that had
peaked her interest. I knew the girls would come around to my way of
thinking. Everyone loves a parade.
She swept her hand along the entire crowd line and
Iíll never forget her simple words. "Try and find one other teenager
besides us who is watching the parade with their parents."
She was actually being benevolent. When I looked
around, I couldnít find a teenager at all, with or without parents. I
guess everyone except teenagers loves a parade.
So I changed my ways after that little epiphany. I
realized that at some point kids grow up and no longer want to hang out with
their parents on family outings.
I was a changed man. Sort of. I still dragged the
teenagers to family outings, but I now completely understood why they were
kicking and screaming.
I was thinking about all this last Sunday when I dragged
my teenage boys kicking and screaming to go see the Queen Mary II as it
steamed under the Golden Gate Bridge.
"No way," cried the 16-year-old, "The
Super Bowl is on. Iím not missing the start of the Super Bowl to go see
some stupid boat."
"It happens to be the largest ship to ever pass
through the Golden Gate," I replied. "And itís coming through at
3:00. The Super Bowl starts at 3:25. Weíll be back just in time."
We are fortunate enough to live on San Francisco Bay with
a boat dock and a small boat. Thatís why we could go have a quick look at
the Queen Mary II and be back for kickoff.
Even my wife was enthused. Sheís not fond of boats, but
sheís even less fond of football. Given the choice, sheíd go see a
seven-foot dinghy rather than watch the Super Bowl.
It was a beautiful afternoon, and San Francisco Bay was
as calm as it gets. We motored past Sausalito and turned the corner at
precisely 2:52 p.m., some of us anxious to get our first glimpse of the
beautiful Queen Mary II as it approached the Golden Gate exactly on
Instead, we saw nothing. "I canít believe
it," I cried. "Itís late. Theyíre British. They canít be
"Letís go home," said one of the boys,
a touch of panic in his voice. "You did TIVO the game, didnít
I ignored him, primarily because I didnít
want to get thrown overboard in a mutiny attempt. "Theyíre
British," I numbly repeated. "Itís not right."
"He didnít tape the game," one
brother said to the other. "Letís kill him."
"I want to see the Queen Mary,"
announced my wife. "Weíre not rushing back to see some stupid
We had a problem. I scanned the horizon and
saw a tiny speck that was probably the Queen Mary II. It had a long way to
go before it became big. I had to make a choice, and I did. I put the boat
at full throttle and headed out the Golden Gate.
"NOOOOOO!" cried just about everyone in
the boat. "Weíre all going to die."
"Iím the captain and Iíve made a decision.
Weíre going to find the Queen Mary and look at her. And then weíre going
to speed home and catch most of the Super Bowl. Iím making everyone
Clearly, I was making nobody happy, including
myself, but thatís what family gatherings are all about. Bouncing over
large swells, we headed five miles out to sea and found the slow-moving,
irresponsible British ship. It didnít look big at all, but maybe thatís
because it was surrounded by thousands of miles of ocean.
We all took one good look and then headed back to
sweet, sweet land. We got home just in time for the second quarter. My wife
was upset that she didnít get to see the Queen Mary II go through the
Golden Gate and the boys were upset they missed the most exciting quarter of
the Super Bowl.
All in all, another perfect family day to be