Saturday, September 22, 2007


It drives my wife crazy – no matter where we go I end up on a gondola.
Any time we’re in New York City I have to visit Andres Garcia on the lake in Central Park, and when in Boston, I must drop by the gondolas on the Charles River;

I consulted for them in 2001 and have been a fan ever since.
This year we’re vacationing in South Florida, and I’m planning on rowing with Mike Novack at Stork’s Bakery in Ft. Lauderdale.
Rowing with Joe Gibbons in Boston.
Central Park gondolier Andres Garcia explains the history of the famous Bethesda Fountain.

My wife will say to me, “Hey Honey, do you want to go to Omaha, Nebraska?”

My answer: “Ooh, yeah, there’s a gondola operation there that I’d like to visit!”
Pick any location on the map and I’ll come up with a gondola or similar boat operation either in the city or a short drive away – one that I must visit.
My wife, as if on cue, rolls her eyes.
On a recent trip through Denver we went out of our way to visit with a punting operation. We swapped stories, took turns pushing a pole off the river bottom,

and I kissed my wife under every bridge. It was a great time.
If you’re reading this with the attitude of, “Wow, this guy knows all the gondolas”,

then you’re reading it wrong.
The truth is that I’ve got one of the worst cases of “gondola fever” the world has ever seen. My wife, God bless her, has learned to tolerate it.
Gondola Fever is easy to diagnose. If you are travelling in a car or train and see a waterway (ocean, lake, river, water hazard on a golf course, or even a drainage ditch) and think to yourself, “Hey, I could row a gondola on that”, then you may have the Fever.

If you find yourself looking down at the earth from your window seat on an airplane, saying the same thing about everything from irrigation aqueducts to the Great Salt Lake, and if you can’t stop looking down throughout the flight, you’re likely infected. When you notice that the last five times you’ve left town have all involved gondolas in one way or another, you’ve got Gondola Fever.
There is no known cure. Fortunately most of the side effects are positive; a good sense of balance, relaxed disposition, slight suntan, and good physical fitness level are all results of this syndrome. Sure, you’ll get unusual calluses on your hands and your right calf will be bigger than your left one, but who needs symmetric calves anyway?
Social gatherings often lead to awkward feelings such as being the only one in the room who knows (or cares, for that matter) what a trasto da prua is. You find yourself becoming a sort of “gondola geek”. You’re the outsider when the guys are watching football and you’d rather watch a regatta.
But then it all comes back to a head when someone needs to propose or celebrate something. Now, all of a sudden, you’re like that one guy in the dorms who has a pick-up truck on moving day.
Guys ask you for advice on how to be more romantic; girls ask you how to get their guys to be more romantic. Heck, in fewer than five minutes you can go from “gondola geek” to “Cupid in a striped shirt”!
Like I said, there is no known cure, so just learn to accept the fact that you’re different and enjoy the times when it’s to your advantage.
Oh, and if anyone reading this has found a cure, don’t tell me; there are worse things I could be obsessed with.

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