When I heard about a riverboat getting stuck on a sandbar my first thought was, It could be worse. Sure, I doubt it was a pleasant experience but they were always within sight of land and it seems to have been a pretty easy rescue. And I had a worse experience on a riverboat once. I was with my cousin Kevin.
I wanted to like Kevin, really. We weren’t that far apart in age and we both liked science fiction and I was pretty easygoing and could find something positive about most people, but Kevin complained about everything, and he had no filter. We hadn’t seen each other for a couple of years and when my aunt and uncle and cousins came to visit the first thing Kevin said to me when I went up to say hello he said, “Wow, you’ve really grown. The last time I saw you you were a short, dumpy little kid. I hope you’re not as annoying as you used to be.” So our visit was off to a terrific start. Then he complained about lunch, that the tuna fish didn’t have relish in it, that we had corn chips instead of tortilla chips. He complained that there was nothing to do in my neighborhood. He complained that I stayed up too late and got up too early, except for the night when I went to bed early and then he complained about that. We went to a pizza place I liked. He took one bite of the pizza and told me there was a pizza place where he lived that was better, but I knew that if we’d visited him and gone to that pizza place he’d find something to complain about. The only thing that did make him happy was that we had an Intellivision game console and he and I actually spent some happy time together playing video games, but my parents put strict time limits on the game use and he complained about that. Not to my parents, though. I was the lucky one who got to hear all his complaints. Then, a little over halfway through the visit, although it seemed longer, the Intellivision broke and if you guessed that he complained about that give yourself ten bonus points.
I suggested we go see Gremlins which was out that summer. He told me he’d read the book and it was “really stupid” so he had no interest in seeing the movie.
“Maybe the movie’s different,” I suggested, trying really hard to sound cheerful.
“The movie’s exactly like the book,” he said. Then he had to complain that we only had crunchy peanut butter and he liked the creamy kind. I had a new pocketknife at the time and I seriously thought about jabbing it into his neck but the only thing that stopped me is I didn’t want to damage it.
My parents had booked a ride on the General Jackson riverboat and, as far as I know, my aunt and uncle enjoyed it, and I got a kick out of it too. There wasn’t much for kids to do but I had fun just walking around and exploring it. Or I would have if Kevin hadn’t followed me around the entire time complaining about how boring it was and the river looked terrible and there was a small waterfall off the starboard side that I thought looked pretty cool but he wouldn’t shut up about how pathetic it was. I was seriously tempted to throw him overboard but I knew getting away from him wouldn’t be that easy and I didn’t want to listen to him complain about the rescue.