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The next Huck Finn: New sport of tubbing

Last Wednesday, I ran into a local Pamida on a very specific errand. I wasn't in there to purchase anything that one would expect a good-for-nothing teenage boy like me to get; a tasteless CD, new clothes that look old, or some new-fangled electrical gadget. No, I was looking for something much different: a large plastic tub.

Let me explain.

During a mid-afternoon swim two summers ago, it occurred to me that if I were to take one of the storage tubs lying in our shed and place it in the water and then sit in it, knees to the floor, I could use my hands for propulsion and potentially create an entirely new form of water transportation.

Excited, I dumped the contents of an appropriately sized tub upon the shed's floor (my mom hates it when I do that), ran with it out to the end of our dock, and placed the plastic tub in the water, long side parallel to the edge of the pier. So far, so good.

I eased myself into the tub, knees to the floor, pushed off from the dock, and immediately capsized. My oldest brother looked at me pityingly, and then glanced at his watch, as if to remind himself that every minute passed was one minute closer to my leaving for college.

True, my first attempt at riding the tub had ended in failure, but that was only because of a lack of balance on my part, and not in the least a negative reflection on my new sport or hobby or whatever-you-want-to-call-it in itself. I was morally sure of it.

I practiced with the tub on a daily basis, and, not to toot my own horn, eventually became quite proficient with it. I called my new hobby "tubbing," and worked tirelessly to become a master "tuber." I initially focused on tipping over less, but after I had mastered that, invented drills (as I was certainly not going to find any online) to perfect the finer points of operating a tub: accelerating, turning and even braking.

Towards the end of the summer, but before the advent of the Cold Months, I managed to tub all the way across "my bay" and back. At the time, I considered that accomplishment to be the pinnacle of my short life, and it took a few days for my bloated head to return to its original size.

That winter seemed even crueler than usual, as I was not only eternally cold but also deprived of what was then the passion of my life, but summer eventually came, and with it, the start of another season of tubbing.

Last summer I perfected my sport, and, much to my dismay, my oldest brother (the one who had originally thought I was crazy) took it up as well. "This is my hobby, man; go invent your own sport" I wanted very badly to tell him.

Eventually, though, I came to realize that if my hobby were to ever attract a following, I would need to share the love and allow the rest of the world to partake of what has to be one of life's most rewarding experiences. I even checked the Internet to see if anybody had thought of anything even remotely related to tubbing before me. Nobody had, far as I could tell.

Oh, and one more thing: sometime between the end of last summer and the beginning of this one, my favorite tub was misplaced, or, as I believe, stolen. I simply could not find her when, early last week, I was about to take my beloved tub on an early season's ride around the bay.

This saddened me greatly, but life goes on, so last Wednesday found at me at Pamida, checking out the tub selection and trying to find a perfect fit for me. I wanted something a little bigger than my previous tub, as I had been very close to outgrowing my missing tub last year, when I had ridden her last.

I pulled various tubs off the shelves and simulated a typical tub ride in the middle of the aisle, hands paddling and everything. A lady passed by the aisle I was test-riding tubs in and, after looking at me with an expression of grave concern, hurried on.

I eventually found one that seemed about the right size, and proceeded to the checkout aisle. I asked the cashier if it would be cheaper for me to buy it without the lid (which is, as you will discover if you ever decide to take up tubbing, totally unnecessary), but she informed me that the lid was part of the package.

I had some trouble fitting it into the sedan my mom was driving, but we managed and I went home to try her out. Though she will never completely replace my first tub, my new tub works very well and, at 45 gallons, will hopefully serve me for many seasons to come.

In fact, I will most likely not have outgrown my current beast of a tub when I am grown and have children of my own, to whom I can demonstrate the fruits of a misspent youth.

Nathan Kitzmann will be a sophomore at Detroit Lakes High School this fall.