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No Canoe Can Hold Me

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No Canoe Can Hold Me

Care to take a relaxing, uneventful canoe trip down the lazy river, the sights and sounds of nature soothing you? Want the warm midday sun to bronze your shoulders as you calmly drift across the water?

Well, you'd better call someone else to join you. Because when Dennis Puttkamer steps into a canoe, there's going to be trouble.

They have yet to build a canoe that can contain Dennis Puttkamer, Canoe Tipper Extraordinaire. No matter the brand or make—Grumman Double-Ender, Michi-Craft T-17, Pelican Dare Devil—give me enough time, and I'll find a way out of it. Whether I'm recklessly standing up to scout for potential dangers ahead, or throwing all my weight unexpectedly over to one side after seeing what I believe to be a beaver, I will upset the canoe's delicate balance.

Not even the Alcatraz of canoes, the impregnable Old Town, can hold me within. I am a modern-day Harry Houdini. When it comes to canoes.

For instance, I've been known to decide, mid-voyage, that I'm feeling a little "seasick," and need, urgently, to switch places in the canoe. Using my patented "Not- Thinking-Things-Through" technique, I will then begin stumbling toward the bow before you have a chance to react, toppling us both into the freezing river water below. You won't know what hit you, although if past experience is any indication, it will probably be my paddle.

You can put me in a canoe all right, but you can't keep me in a canoe. And if you try, I promise you this: I will escape, most likely after dropping my paddle in the water and reaching out precariously to retrieve it, though it obviously sits well outside my meager reach. And when I do, believe you me, everything you hold dear—camping supplies, fishing poles, beer cooler—will get what's coming to them.

Come hell or high water, although it's usually the latter, I will emerge victorious. There's no rock too far out in the distance that I, in wholly unfounded desperation, won't violently steer away from, crashing into an unseen piece of driftwood just feet to my left in the process.

Yes. I'm that good.

And it's not just canoes, either. Same goes for foot-powered paddle boats. And kayaks. Especially kayaks.

Think I'm lying? Why don't you try asking the picnic basket my lovely wife packed for our anniversary outing last year? It has an answer for you—300 feet below the surface of Sebago Lake!

How many people can say that they're on a first-name basis with emergency rescue crews from three different neighboring towns? Besides me, and possibly my fishing partner Dale, no one.

The life-jacket industry would crumble if it weren't for Dennis Puttkamer.

And I'm not talking about raging rapids or dangerous waters here, people. I'm talking canoes on calm, ripple-free waters. Waters as flat as a goddamn sheet of glass. Hell, even my grandmother would panic and tip the canoe if she was caught in fierce, swirling currents.

Canoe builders, listen closely: If you want any chance of imprisoning me, you're going to have to try a lot harder. For starters, how about widening and lengthening the frame by 18 to 20 feet so my weight is more evenly distributed. Next, go get yourself a clue, then come back and raise the sides about eight feet. Finally, stop crying about what failures you are, and start erecting some sort of closed structure at the top, maybe out of—I dunno—high-grade steel?

Once you're done, take a step back and behold your creation. It's what is commonly referred to as a "boat!" Because, you see, you cannot, by definition, build a canoe that can hold me!

Long live Dennis Puttkamer!

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