Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SEA CHANGE or TREE CHANGE (07/13/17)
- TITLE: A Fish Out Of Water
By Phillip Cimei
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Moving almost fifty times in a lifetime had screamed, no more! But mostly leaving behind a land of constant threats, such as: tornados exploding at any moment, rattlesnakes sinking their fangs into your face—like they did my neighbor, cottonmouths missing my hand by inches as I pulled a stringer of fish out of a pond, and copperheads glaring at me as I moved a piece of firewood. Retirement spelled out peace and relaxation. Now, all I have to do is figure out how to get over the fear of water.
My first experience with deep water was at age ten. It was a lasting one, “Just jump in this deep end, along the edge, and start paddling,” my sister said.
I dove right in. The last thing I remembered was sinking to the bottom and my sister pulling me up by the hair. I eventually learned a puppy paddle—my version of a dog paddle. It got me to the pool’s edge. Now, at age sixty-seven, I must expand my horizons.
Isn’t that the term used to turn novice wannabes into fine-tuned experts, or in my case easy prey for the predator—the Pacific Ocean? I grabbed my snorkel and mask, and informed my wife I was going to tackle this thing called swimming.
My wife donned a silly grin—she knew me well, “Really, Honey.? You know you will be the laughing stock at the recreation center.”
I wasn’t fazed or discouraged. I gave my wife the thumbs up sign and said, “I got this Babe, I have seen some down there with snorkels and masks.”
Of course, being a master debater in her former high school days, she fired back, “Sure you did. You and every geek and nerd in Pryor, Oklahoma. Don’t forget your rubber duckie and swan floaty.”
I went, I swam, and I conquered. I returned to the house, chest puffed out, head held high, and a grin of victory on my face, “Just call me Tarzan of the Pacific, AHahAHahAhahAh.”
She gave me that usual shake of the head and exhale of exasperating—she has been down this road many, many times before. Well, I showed her. I didn’t make a fool of myself at the recreation center. I blended in well with most—in the kiddy pool side. I swam several lengths of the pool and even dove down and sat on the bottom. Hawaii here we come.
I convinced my wife all would be well. I told her, “We are on our way to basking in the sun and swimming with the fishees—as I called them.”
The flight from Los Angeles gave me plenty of time to figure out how to tame this big, blue, never ending beast. There was one minor detail I hadn’t, yet, worked out. How to overcome swallowing salty ocean water without choking to death. I mean, I choke on my own spit. But I had a plan.
My plan included a mask, regulator, and tank of air. I got scuba diving certified—thanks to the patient instructor. He ignored my bulging eyes as I coughed out sea water forty-feet down. Dah! When clearing your mask of water, you blow out your nose while tilting your head back and pulling your mask slightly away from your face—not suck in!
I was ready to tame Big Blue. Even my son-in-law’s stories of near fatal experiences wouldn’t stop me. Not even giant octopus latching on to his mask and regulator, getting tangled up in seaweed, being thrashed against the coral by unsuspecting waves, or having his ribs nearly crushed against jagged lava. But, now, it’s me in a pickle.
Malfunctioning equipment had me gasping for air. The current pulled at my heels until exhaustion begged for surrender. Thankfully, my son-in-law was able to drag me in to shore with a rope and diving buoy.
I think I will sit on the beach for a while and dream. I know, night diving with the Manta rays. I just need a plan to get over the fear of the dark.
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