It never fails. When I go on a beach vacation with friends, the following conversation always happens with my well-intended companions:
Them: “Hey! So we’re going diving tomorrow. You’re in, right?”
Me: “Um, well. Nah.”
Them: “What? Why not? You’re certified, right?”
Every time. Because I’m generally an athletic and adventurous person, people always assume that I’m some sort of SCUBA savant, with zillions of dives under my belt, ready to take on the giant squid who live twenty-thousand leagues under the sea.
Uh….no. Not even a little bit.
Sure, I love to run, hike and climb. Bag a peak? Sure, I’d love to! But dipping under the surface in open water? Frankly, it kind of terrifies me.
Nevertheless, the question always comes up when I take a trip to the tropics. Do you want to go SCUBA diving? Oh I can’t – I’m not certified! But you can get certified on this trip! All you have to do is spend a day taking classes in the shallow end of the pool!
Well, that sounds like a fun way to spend my vacation. Let me strap a heavy oxygen tank on to my back and spend the entire day going up and down the 8-foot depth of the resort pool while the rest of you assholes get sloppy at the swim-up bar.
Yeah. No thanks.
They press: But you’re missing out! You wouldn’t believe what amazing things you’ll see under the water!
Oh, I think I know what’s down there.
I watch a lot of Discovery Channel. Clearly, the ocean is full of things that will sting, pinch, bite and poison you.
Not to mention the fact that the whole process sounds complicated and scary as all hell. Weights around your waist to drag you down to the appropriate depth. Heavy tank on your back. Try to breathe normally, or you’ll suck up all of your oxygen! Don’t go back up too quickly or you’ll end up on an episode of House!
My lounge chair is looking pretty good right now.
So when people finally get it that I’m not going to shell out hundreds of dollars to acquire the necessary training to visit the sea floor, they invariably suggest SCUBA’s dorky little brother: snorkeling.
I’ll be honest: snorkeling kind of sucks, too. I’ve never encountered a snorkel mask that didn’t leak and I’ve never been able to float along the surface of the sea without constantly managing to suck water down the air pipe.
And, really? It’s cool to peek beneath the surface, but…
You’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all. Maybe my ever-flooded mask is distorting my vision…but that’s just a bunch of fish…and fish…and fish….
Really, when it comes down to it, all of this stems from the fact that I’m a giant pussy. At least when it comes to anything related to the ocean.
I’m convinced that people are just wired differently – everyone has their own matrix of braveries and fears. Me? I’ll happily climb a mountain or live on a trail, out of a backpack, among the bears and beasts. River rafting? Sleeping under the stars? Bring it on. But descend the depths of the sea? I shudder.
But I’m okay with that. I’ve spent been lucky enough to explore the peaks and valleys of some of the earth’s most beautiful places, from the Cascades and Sierra Nevada and Joshua Tree to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Someone else can call dibs on the bottom of the ocean.
I’ll be snoozing on my beach chair, possibly having rum-fueled nightmares.
Take it from me.
You have fun with your underwater adventures. I’ll be here when you get back.
I’ll probably be drunk, though!