The Attack At the Lake

Or One Of Our Fun Little Day Trips That We Took Whilst Visiting Family In Russia…

The city we were staying in is called Nalchik and, at the time, it didn’t have a crazy, bustling city feel, so I wasn’t intimidated by getting around it. It’s built rather like Manhattan, with a Central Park and the city all around it. The park was a bit of a mystery. Even people who grew up there didn’t know every part of it. There were no maps of it. Most days we would wander around and eventually find an exit. It was a way to pass time. At one point we found a small amusement park and a cafe which no one had ever heard of.

To break up the days a bit, we took a few little day trips and a side trip. This day trip was to a lake known for its fish. I don’t fish, never have, so I didn’t really care but they said there would be fun things for me to do too. I went along for the hell of it. I figured that I could maybe try to commune with nature or something or, if all else failed, I was sure D would do something stupid I could laugh at.

Now….Russian cars. Back in ’92 there were like five brands of cars available in Russia. At least that’s all we saw where we were. We spent most of our drives being shuttled around in a jeep. It had like no shocks. Every bump would jolt through your spine and, if a trip was long enough, I’d have a lovely migraine by the end of it. Couple that with having to hold my boobs down or wear a sports bra… Trips made me cranky. D had it worse. If we hit a particularly rough bump his head would slam into the ceiling of the jeep. I’d hear his jaw clack together from the impact and wince. We would both slouch as low as we could in our seats. Oh, yeah, and there were no seat belts. So imagine flying down a bumpy road, sometimes on the wrong side of the road, way over the speed limit because no one follows them anyway, no shocks on the jeep, bouncing all over the place because there are no seat belts. We did that for about an hour and a half before getting to the lake.

The older people suggested that D, A, and I take the row boat out onto the lake for a bit. They were setting out a fish trap and said it would be a bit before we could eat. We thought that it might be fun so we took off. At first, I tried rowing, but that was a disaster. My left arm is so much weaker than my right from breaking it when I was little that it took two strokes to catch up to every one stroke from my right arm. D and I switched places and I sat in the front of the boat, half turned to face both D and A. A was all of the way back, sitting on top of the back of the boat instead of on a seat.

I warned D that the lake was really more like a pond, it was super shallow. He needed to be careful with his rowing. He, of course, ignored me anyway and took an oar to the chest, almost tossing him out of the boat. I gave him my smuggest “I told you so” look which he pretended to ignore while he rubbed his chest and nearly lost the oar in the water. Luckily, we both caught it in time.

We rowed on for a while. Everything was calm until we got near the middle when something started hitting the boat and knocking it off course. I looked over the side and saw tons of huge fish just ramming the boat, left and right. I began to get a little freaked out. It was almost like a Hitchcock film. I told D to row faster and get us out of there and he sounded just as nervous as I did when he said he had been trying. The fish were slowing our progress!

Then they started leaping at the boat and ramming it. Now I was freaked out. Was this some new breed of Russian piranha fish? What the hell? And I saw something flying out of the corner of my eye at A. A fish, at least a foot and a half long, jumped out of the water and landed on his lap. He screamed and threw it back into the water. Still not comprehending what was happening, I started to scream too. D, who had no idea what was going on, joined in on the screaming.

Eventually, as they always do for some strange reason, my screams turned to laughter and then I couldn’t stop laughing. A had a huge wet spot across his lap and he still looked freaked out and it was the funniest thing in the world to me at that moment. D was screaming, “What’s happening?” repeatedly but I couldn’t catch my breath to answer. Everyone on the shore was laughing at us.

Eventually I did explain what happened to D and then I had to tell the story again for everyone on the shore at lunch, which was, of course, fish. We all laughed again. And I finally found out why the fish attacked us. Too many fish in too small a space. They encourage people to fish freely there to keep the population down because the fish are so huge and there are so many of them. So, no… No, Russian piranha fish. Though I did tease A, “In Russia, fish fishes for you.” He didn’t laugh.

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