"Competition of the Week" story # 5

Pine River, Michigan           September 14, 2001

The Pine River had its tricky parts to kayak, such as where the current played me as a pin-ball between two logs.
     Meanwhile, Bill Hatch, fresh off a shore duel with Tonto, slapped his fun noodle against the water challengingly from across the river.
     I freed myself. I accepted Bill's challenge.
     The shore duel, of course, is one of the most artistic forms of the Kayak-Fun Noodle-River Joust, with as many strategies as there are pasta dishes. Vato has a strong, steady advance, forcing his opponent eventually off-shore into the deep, cold water, where he usually falls and is beaten. Tonto flails his scrawny limbs and fun noodle in confusing, spastic arcs that call to mind Renaissance expressionism. Bill Hatch uses a near-impenetrable left-arm defense system.
     Those three strategies had already made me their victims on the day. The most humiliating moment had come from a vicious right-ear shot, landed by Bill Hatch, that caused me to hear bells for fifty seconds. In that fight, I'd only been spared because Tonto and Vato rushed up behind Bill, pulling off a sneaky forest ambush, and aided me with a triple-team.
     This time, I was alone. I employed my strategies, desperate for a shore duel victory.
     Noodle Recipe # 1: Using my right arm, I swung the entire fun noodle in a wide, ten-foot arc that added strength and sting. The disadvantages were that it was inaccurate, fatiguing, and predictable. Bill's left arm blocked the face shots, and my hits to his side didn't inflict the pain I was looking for.
     Noodle Recipe # 2: Folding the noodle into a horseshoe, I held both ends and pummeled Bill's head with quick, forceful strokes. Unfortunately, I could come at Bill from only one angle using this strategy. Bill's thick forearm held up against my assault in unprecendented fashion.
     Noodle Recipe # 3: Using again the horseshoe shape, I this time held on with both hands in the middle. I hit him with both ends rapidly to double my hit efforts. This attack, usually a sure-winner though low on force, was amazingly stymied by the left-arm defense tactic. I was out of ideas.
     It was time to develop a strategy I'd never used before. I got it! Here: MODERN ODDYSEUS' GUIDE TO ALWAYS WINNING # 3 - Hit 'em below the belt.
     No, no, no. That's something Tonto would do! I'm not a dirty fighter, so I instead came up with: MODERN ODDYSEUS' GUIDE TO ALWAYS WINNING # 3 - Jab 'em hard - HARD! - right between the eyes.
     Noodle Recipe # 4 (Macaroni and Sliced Bill): Holding near the noodle's three-quarters point, I repeatedly shoved its blunt end into Bill's face. His arm managed to block only a fraction of my jab attempts. I hit him over and over and over again. It was great. His face turned red, he was stunned to make a counter-attack, and I even think he forgot where he was for a second. Woohoo! Victory!
     Bill Hatch had taken a serious pounding on-shore, but he managed to race into the water and tip my and Tonto's kayaks during the get-away. Bill Hatch climbed the "Competition of the Week" 3 standings, while I plummeted. I was next sunk by Brandon, who withstood the noodles-to-the-face I assauged him with and merely pressed on the front of my kayak and waved me good-bye.
     "The fun noodles have become obsolete," I said, before falling again to Brandon in the exact same fashion once more.
     A rule was made prohibiting us from touching each other's kayaks. This would make further knock-ins a near impossibility. Brandon, with five knock-ins, had just taken the lead from Chris.
     I couldn't go down this easily. I was a crazy kayraqi; I had to get crafty if I was going to stay undefeated. At a river bend with a heavy network of logs, I got out of my kayak and plotted. I climbed onto the largest log, which extended deep into the river, and lurked beneath a tree branch.
     Brandon passed next. I raised my fun noodle for the surprise. Unfortunately, Brandon caught on to my scheme at about the same time that the small log I'm moved onto started to float away downstream. I fell onto it, but I couldn't give up the attack. I began riding the log like a kayak after Brandon. It was a classic race. But, it became apparent that I couldn't catch him using my hands to paddle, so I gave up the chase.
     "Man the torpedoes!" I yelled, shooting this fifteen-foot log like a death missile straight into my brother's kayak. He rocked back-and-forth uneasily, but it didn't get the knock-in I needed.
     After this, everyone pretty much gave up on the jousting and concentrated on the kayaking. Everyone, that is, except one persistently annoying little punk who paddled around poking everyone, even when it became clear they had no desire to fight, in the cheeks and ears and face. That was me who did that. It was fun, and I got an especially good hit on Chris's eye that made his vision temporarily fuzzy.
     A series of shallow, rocky, rapid rapids made up the last leg of the kayaking. The only real development in the joust was that Brandon, in a brainless move, ran into a log, unprovoked from attack, and tipped his kayak. He lost the lead there.
     And so, the "Competition of the Week" 3 winner: Chris! ... with a record of two knock-ins and only one fall.
     I may not be undefeated anymore. Heck, the only person I finished ahead of in the whole contest was Sergei! But, I'll always remember sticking the stubby end of my noodle in Bill Hatch's face over and over ... and in Chris's defenseless face after he'd finished jousting ... and in Tonto's as he whined for me to stop ... and Vato's ... and ...

later, Modern Oddyseus (2-1)

Add'l stats. Noodle-shots to the face: (a selfishly honest estimate)
Bill Hatch: 32
Tonto: 17
Brandon: 15
Vato: 12
Chris: 5
Sergei: 3
me: 80

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