Fall. Senior year of college. Fall break. A week dismissed from academia. Read: go do something awesome with your best buddies.
Five of you lash two canoes to two station wagon roofs and head for a deep lake, at the northwestern end of which sits a campsite that one has been to before. The supplies are, to use the word that you adopted then for its cliché, absurdity and appropriateness, “fratty”: twice as much bacon and eggs and potatoes as is necessary, a large bag of Cajun trail mix, other various bars and backpacking foods and two glass gallon jugs of Carlo Rossi wine, which has come to be one of several signature drinks of the college fishing club, of which you are all very, very important members of.
The second night around the campfire. The remaining jug is passed around, and around, and around, until its location and existence is forgotten. And then, disaster. Where is the Carlo?!
How can you lose, misplace a glass gallon jug of wine in a 20’ wide circle? Did it walk off, to take a piss in the bushes and forget its way back? Did it evaporate, the same way the last two days did? Did someone hide it, as a joke, and then have their memory of its location disappear like all the answers to the midterms you all just took? Was it burned? Five stumbling, mumbling, jumbling college kids, on top of the world, cannot find the wine, and it is a serious problem.
One guy looks in the tent. One guy looks in the canoes. One guy looks so far away from the campfire that it’s a joke. One guy doesn’t get up, just looks behind his stump seat.
The last, the one sitting only a few feet from the lake’s edge, yells. Everyone looks. Reaching into the lake, as if grabbing a fresh born baby, as if landing a giant trout, as if pulling a piece of bacon that fell into the fire and that shouldn’t have, as if finding a single piece of agate on a gravel bar a quarter-mile long, he has the jug of wine in both hands and raises it above his head, yelling, “I got it!!” By some absurd chance, the jug has rolled and fallen into the lake in just the perfect way that the opening landed perfectly downward so that the air inside the jug has held the wine inside, lake water creating a seal preventing any from draining. No one can remember how much was in it when it was lost, but there is enough left that it’s enough for the rest of the night and also just the most recent of countless, tiny but unbelievable events that happened that make this trip story-worthy.
Your hangover the next day makes you wish, slightly, that you never found the jug again. But, what a story. Can you believe that?