I’m watching college football, and just saw a Geico commercial. You know, the one with the gecko. He’s in a remote-control toy boat, being spun around by a little kid, and he’s kind of freaking out because he can’t get off the boat.

Getting off the boat wasn’t an option at Magic Mountain what I was 10, either. Buccaneer was one of those rides shaped like a huge boat, that swung back and forth for no good reason. That’s what it looked like to me, anyway, standing in line with my friends, none of who even remotely remained in my ecosystem down the road.They’d just survived an hour’s long wait and were finally climbing into their seats. Which meant I was, too, albeit reluctantly. The ride didn’t look that fun, and likely to make me sick. But I didn’t know yet that one of life’s happiness secrets was to do most things when everyone else wasn’t doing them. This would later apply to freeway driving, surfing, investing in real estate, and taking a vacation.

So I settled onto the padding and the lap bar was already cranked across my bony lap, the boat shuddering forward, before the thought occurred to me.

I can’t get off this boat.

This, more than the actual ride, terrified me. Which I survived, of course, but not without a cross-my-heart-hope-to-die, early tween parlance promise to myself to avoid that kind of helplessness at all costs, right when the boat was at its apex and I was about to lose my churro.

There’s no lap bar holding me down anymore, no mechanical momentum throwing me into drops I didn’t choose.I can get off the boat.

I can turn off the TV, walk outside, hang out with the horses.

In a minute.

Game’s back on.

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