Yesterday a few people were fiddling around on the ladder at the edge of pier as we were returning from our second dive. They’re not gonna let us out, I thought. I might have to fight my way through. And I will. Will do it for king and country, for divers the world over, for the pretty girls on the beach who are just waiting to watch an old, out-of-shape fifty-plus year-old get out of the water with full scuba gear. Indeed. I will not be defeated by the forces of pier occupation. At least until I know what the heck they are doing. Or I’ll just ask nicely and presuppose my neighborly questioning with the unfact that a barracuda the size of a go-kart just tried to attack me at forty feet below the surface–but I was saved in the last second before her charge by a grouper the size of a VW Bug that had two sharp buck teeth protruding from huge, fishy lips.
It was a good dive except for the cramps I started to get in my legs at about thirty-five minutes in. Yesterday’s dive #2 was full of same old same old–except for the cramps. Stuff you have to love if you love diving. Whenever I’m in the water there’s really only three things I think about. And please do not heed this as advice. In fact, steer clear from anything I say regarding pseudo-techniques in scuba diving.
The first thing I think of is what’s on the opposite side of the coral reef I am swimming. Yesterday I was swimming north against a slight current, the reef on my right. It was just a casual reef dive. We were not gonna exceed twenty meters or fifty minutes. Good enough. The only problem is, to the left is the one thing I adore most about life on this planet And the reason I love scuba. The abyss of the ocean. Look right and you’re in your own personal life-size aquarium where you never have to worry if you gave the goldfish too much food. But on my left was the everything I’m still living for. I adore floating in my special space suit with aqua-lung in the ocean knowing that if I were to let out all the air from my BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) and float down I would eventually find the meaning of life. Because down there, way down there, dear worst-reader, is the EVERYTHING this planet has to offer. I just know it. And even if some scientist comes around to prove me wrong. I don’t care. The abyss of this earth’s oceans is the most beautiful stuff I can think of. And I love her.
The second thing I think about while diving is the play-along–that distracts me from the first thing I think about– which is probably a good thing. Obviously I play-along while diving. As you know, there is no such thing as diving alone. I’m with a group of people or at the minimum my diving partner. The task at hand, though, is going about the business of getting ones money’s worth before all the air runs out–or your cash runs out. And so. Everybody is looking for this special fish or that unique polyp cluster or whatever in the waters feeding the reefs. One of my favorite fish is the scorpion fish. It is a butt-ugly animal with a nero-toxin in its dorsal fin that could kill a man if she gets it in you and it’s not treated. These fish blend-in perfectly with the coral rocks that is their home and unless they’re moving around it’s hard to see them. Hence most humans killed by this fish accidentally step on it while it’s in shallow water. Like a hyper-dermic needle the fish injects poison into whatever threatens it. Yesterday one swam right underneath me between coral polyps. Although I’ve seen them move before, this was the first time I got a good look at it while it was swimming. The only thing not corroded by the animals camouflage were the inner parts of its pectoral fins. The one I saw had the most beautiful black and gold/yellow coloring on its fins and I wonder, like a clown, or a costume, if the outer covering that so brilliantly hides this animal from predators and at the same time makes it so aesthetically unappealing were removed, would I fall over it with love because of its beauty? Of the seventy-five or so dives I’ve done, at least sixty of which were on reefs in Bali, Thailand, The Red Sea and Curacao, I’ve never seen such colored fins on a scorpion fish.
The third thing I think about while diving is my partner. With that in mind, never dive alone. Make sure you’re skills are up-to-date. Check your equipment and double check it with your buddy. Once the dive is over and you’ve done all the equipment washing and other care, get a deco-beer. That’s short for Decompression Beer. I usually enjoy that beer while staring out at the waters that I just swam in wondering how all that wondrous depth is doing with out me. (Btw, that’s also a pretty philosophy for life. Or maybe not. Nomatter.)
Enough good samaritan bullshit. Which brings me to #3. The third thing I think about while scuba-diving is if I’m still able to do it. Am I physically fit to actually do this krapp anymore? It’s not that don’t want to, it’s just that I want less to start working out again or taking better care of my body. Fuck all that bullshit. I worked out enough when I was young. In fact, I’m sure the only thing that’s keeping me from meeting the fate of many fifty-plus-year-olds is the fact that I trained the shit out of my heart before I was thirty. After that, fuck it. It was about good sex, the battle with females and trying not to drink myself into a stupor. So I guess I’m not in the worst shape but I was feeling yesterday that I could improve on some things. Hence the cramps. At about thirty-five minutes into the dive when we were on our return route and heading for a five meter deco-swimm both my legs started to cramp up. What you’re supposed to do when that happens is try to stretch out your legs but I was even having a hard time doing that. The whole ill-motion, physical effort, was horrendously painful. Holy-krapp, I thought. How am I gonna get out of this? And then I turned to my partner, who happens to be my better half, and I realized there really are some benefits to being in a long-term, committed relationship. She immediately understood my anguish and assumed the role of underwater doctor/hot-nurse. She unzipped the top of her wet suit revealing that other abyss I love so much, aka cleavage, and proceeded to give me one of the best massages of my life. After a few hard hand stokes my legs were whole again. In fact, just worst-writing about it makes me want to melt in her arms. Yes! Even melt into her more than that beautiful (other) abyss.
Last but not least. When we reached the pier and the ladder at the end of it which would be the finale of dive #2, a small group of people, one with a huge underwater camera, were fiddling about. The woman with the camera was occupying the ladder. She knew we were finished and needed to get out of the water. But she hung around, pointing the camera at the ladder. I asked if there was anything I could do. You know, to help. But there was no answers. Then I asked what the woman was taking a picture of. The woman and her partner didn’t answer. They probably don’t understand English, I thought. Then one of the guys working at the dive shop appeared and told the woman to get the fuck off the ladder so other divers could get out. And I still don’t know what language he spoke. (So I threw the fuck in there for worst-posterity’s sake.) The woman and her camera finally moved to the side. Which I thought was odd. I guess the ladder was big enough for her to just stand there and wait that fully loaded divers get out of her way as they ascend the ladder. Then the dive shop guy said there was a baby octopus she was trying to photograph. Hey! That’s pretty cool. That’s one of the animals every reef diver loves to see. And then I thought. Yeah, there’s only one other animal that is as hard as a scorpion fish to see in the wild: octopus. The woman couldn’t see the octopus but she was hell-bent on trying. So I moved up to the ladder, focused as best I could. Bam! There’s the little guy. I could see him clearly. No more than six inches long from its bubble to the tip of its tentacles, it was trying to hide in the crevices of the horizontal steps of the ocean-growth corroded ladder. I could tell the little eight legged girl didn’t want to be photographed. But she was beautiful.
Dive on. Rant on. -Tommi