The Little Black Dress Takes “The Test”

Sep 9, 2009 by

A pre-marital test of sorts; roughly 15 years ago this Labor Day weekend.

We had dated briefly in high school, but at the time of “The Test,” we hadn’t seen each other in 10 years. How we got back in touch is a sage until itself, but we did.

After a few weeks of long distance chit-chat, I pull the trigger and invite her to my parent’s lake house for Labor Day. She had sent photos, so I knew I was safe on that end.  Very.

She picks me up at the airport. And I’m watching all the guys watching her walk toward me. Life is good.

We head to the lake, meet the parents and all that. And I suggest we go sailing the next day.

Herein lies the test. It involves a 16-foot Hobie Cat catamaran and a trapeze/harness contraption. 

Fortunately, the next day we have a nice breeze and the Little Black Dress is wearing a Little Black Bikini and life is really, really good.

I get the sails up and everything rigged, and then hand the LBD a small diaper-looking thing with a metal hook.

“And this is,” she asks?

“It’s a harness, just slip it on like a pair of shorts,” I reply.

So she does, and we set out. And we have a great breeze. And of course I have to tell the LBD she needs to sit closer to me so the front pontoon won’t go under and we flip.

At the mention of “flip” my desired wish comes true, as she quickly slides closer. By this time, the breeze really is kicking up – we’re sailing along on one pontoon, which means we are really at an angle. And on a catamaran, going up on an angle means you are getting fairly high up in the air.

There are different types of sailing. A catamaran is like racing the Grand Prix, whereas a regular sailboat – baring a hurricane – is pretty much the Sunday drive in the station wagon.

“I need you to stand up,” I say.


“Um, see that hook on the end of those diaper-looking things you’re wearing?”

“Yes” She’s not saying a lot right now.

“Well, um, I need you to put that hook through this ring.”

And to her credit she does. And I’m having to hold her pretty tight to help her keep her balance as we’re really moving along and hitting the waves pretty well. So, you know, I have to hold her real tight.

So she gets the hook in the metal ring and then I tell her to just lean out over the edge.

And I get that look. It’s one of those “I really do like you, but we haven’t seen each other in 10 years and I’m really not into sailing but I’m doing this for you but are you out of your friggin mind?” kinda looks.

Somehow I convince her to lean out, keep her legs spread apart about shoulder width and let the harness hold her.

Quick lesson: The harness is attached to the metal ring, which in turn is attached to a wire running from the side of the boat up to about three-quarters of the way up the mast. In a nutshell, the idea is to lean out with nothing but this little hook holding you. That in turn helps keep the catamaran from flipping; you’re basically using your weight to help keep it level, or only slightly at an angle.

Now a 16-foot catamaran is about eight to 10 feet wide. So, when you’re leaning over the side on this harness and the catamaran is sailing on one pontoon, your head can be about 15-feet above the water.

It’s a blast. For some.

And then I tell her to lean her head back as far as she can and just let go of the handle on this wire. This means the only thing holding her from falling about 15 feet is the tension from the hook in her harness.

And she gives me the “I’m not THAT into you” look, but there must have been a “yet” at the end of her look, because she actually lets go.

And she’s actually having fun. I think.

And then the wave hits us.

And it knocks her feet out from under her, and she literally starts swinging around me.  And I’m trying to grab her, but she’s already flown past me, past the sail and is on the other side of the friggin catamaran. Think circus trapeze. And I’m trying to let out sails and turn into the wind, anything to slow us down.

And, unfortunately, I’m also laughing, because she’s literally just flying back and forth on this little wire. So I finally get the catamaran slowed down enough and she literally flies right back into my arms.

And knocks me over. At this point the tension is off so she somehow slips off the harness and falls into the water.  And I realize I’d better dump the laugh pretty quick because she might be hurt.

But she soon pops out of the water.

“Are you okay,” I ask. And I will say my ability to not laugh while asking that question deserves some type of award.

“Is my makeup messed up.”

And there you have it. I’m worried she’s hurt, but laughing at the same time because it really was funny and she asks about her makeup.

And it had completely smeared and she looked like a raccoon.

“Um, no, you look great. And you handled that really well and …” I don’t remember much after that.

So she passed the catamaran test. And we got married.

Funny how we do stuff for certain people we wouldn’t normally do. And that’s okay, provided you want to do whatever it is for that person because they are important to you.

The key is to not just do something so you can fit in, impress or suck up. It’s real when it comes from the heart. It’s just weak when it comes from any other emotion.

And no, she’s never sailed a catamaran with me since.

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  1. Ken Kendall

    So true. The heart is everything.

    I just started a new blog on marriage and how men can better love their wives. I would love it if you would take a look and give me your comments and feedback.


    • thanks for commenting Ken.
      Enjoyed your blog post about “waiting on her” – story of my life with the LBD.
      we now have a deal. We leave engagements 45 minutes later than I want to, and 45 minutes before she wants to. Somehow her “45” minutes turns into an hour and a half a lot.

  2. that was fantastic – a great story, and great memories! I really enjoyed it. I don’t particularly like my Sunfish sailboat being lumped in with the station wagons, though!

    • I actually have two Sunfishes. Great for teaching the Sons of Thunder basics of sailing, although the youngest two have yet accept my bribes to get them out on them.

      Usually have to take the oldest out on the Sunfish first to get him back “into the groove” before he’ll take the race car, er, Hobie, out with me.

      Sometimes a leisurely day on a Sunfish is a good day.

  3. Suzanne Yack

    Oh my sides. That is so LBD. Thanks for the memories. LBD is such a piece of work, and you are such a handful, what a perfect match.

    • Great to hear from you. The LBD wants everyone to know she did suffer quite a rather extensive (and quite long she says) cut from the wire slicing her up. She claims it’s still there, although I’ve yet to find it despite extensive searching – quite extensive

  4. Great story! Having raced catamarans (Nacra 5.2) in high school, I can totally relate.
    Aloha, Eric


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