Issue: April 2001
Miss Lonesome

To every thing there is a season.

If so, this must be the season of lonely-heart boatyard wives. I know you don't think of it this way. You think of it as spring, complete with exclamation marks jumping all over the page and a little smiley face over the i. You think of it as the season of days grown longer, breezes grown softer, the kiss of summer and the flap of flip-flops right around the corner. And of the joy of the Travel-lift rumbling purposefully over to your boat, which has patiently endured the ignominy of sleet and the plastic tackiness of shrink wrap, and which now (you imagine) practically wriggles with delight at the thought of the lift's slings wrapping around her body, raising her ever so gently, then dipping her with a soft plop into the Bay.

I understand this. I, too, quiver for the day when my boat splashes for the summer. But even more than that, I'd really, really like to be able to remember exactly what my husband looks like. Being married to a boatyard owner in spring is a lot like being single again, when you were embroiled in one of those long-distance love affairs. Every now and then you catch each other on the phone and exchange some passionate lament of loneliness. If you're lucky, you might snag some actual face time on a weekend evening in that brief lull between getting the kids to bed and fallumphing, like a wheezy old accordion, into bed. But most of the time, if I want to see my husband in spring I strap on a respirator and carry air lines for him while he shoots some Awlgrip. Or maybe I bring over a pizza for dinner on the tailgate. Truth be told, as pretty as the Annapolis waterfront is by spring's limpid twilight, there is little romance in a Dominos pizza box, and less in linear polyurethane paints, Tyvek suits or even the sexiest new Binks HVLP gun.

Boatyard wives actually pray for rainy weekends in spring. That's the only way we might see him on a Sunday afternoon. It's diabolical, because nothing's worse for the boatyard owner than a rainy spring. His nails are chewed ragged waiting for dry weather, but on that single, sunny, 70-degree, window-of-boatwork-opportunity day, he's flooded with a tidal wave of boatowners who are punching redial on their cell phones, wanting to know is the boat ready yet and whaddya mean have I noticed the weather-it's sunny and 70 degrees, why isn't my boat in the water?! You know what I mean-come clean. You've done it. You can't help yourself. One of spring's dubiously enchanting qualities is its delirious effect on otherwise understanding and level-headed boatowners. I've done it, and he's my husband.

So I don't hold it against you. But as long as you have him on the phone, would you mind saying hello for me?