The temperature was supposed to climb to a hundred degrees, so I unfolded my two
inner tubes, inflated them, and headed for the river. Along the highway I spotted a hitchhiker, his thumb extended like a valve stem.
“Hop in, where are you headed?”
“I’m headed north, where my girlfriend lives.”
“Ah” I said, winking, “so you’re in a hurry.”
“Not really, she dumped me last week. I just want to see what the other guy looks like.”
“So, technically she’s not your girlfriend?”
“Nope, you’re right, she’s my ex-girlfriend.”
“It might be instructive for you to take a run with me down the rapids in one of those inner tubes?”
I gestured with my own thumb toward the bed of the pickup. He eyed my plan but declined. Water made him nervous. At the spot where I usually launch, I pulled off.
“This is where I float.”
He watched me from the road while I lashed my tubes together, slathered sun block on my skin and climbed down the bank to the water.
“Last chance” I called up to him, “If you die your ex-girlfriend will feel real bad.”
I know he wanted to jump in but his pack hung from one hand like an anchor.
“An inner tube is as safe as a condom” I shouted.
I pushed off and he watched me drift away from the bank, out into the current, ignoring a dozen possible rides, his thumb half-cocked, pointing toward his shoes.