The thought process behind learning to scuba dive
When Blonde and Brunette excitedly planned our visit to the Jean Michel Cousteau Resort in Fiji it was not because we were planning to learn to scuba dive. Although Jacques Cousteau was (more or less) the inventor of scuba we were going there to snorkel. We had 30+ years of wonderful snorkeling experiences and this would be a memorable location for our next snorkeling adventure. And it was.
Until our last day there.
A young couple was taking an introductory scuba lesson in the pool as Blonde and Brunette watched, sipping on our nicely chilled white wines. The couple seemed to enjoy their class and to complete it successfully (they didn’t drown before our eyes). They also seemed – well, ordinary. They weren’t wearing “I got my PhD at MIT” shirts, doing complex math calculations on the bottom of the pool or even overwhelmingly fit physical specimens. Hmmmm….
Cue the arrival of Johnny Singh, the full-time Marine Biologist at the resort. Johnny asked if we wanted to try diving. Brunette gave an unequivocable “no”. Blonde said “no” then “maybe” then “OK”.
Brunette thought for yet another time that her sister was daft and devoid of good judgment. Right again!
The actual instruction process for learning to scuba dive
Blonde was immediately taken to the dive shop to meet with the encouraging person who runs it. The shop manager knew she had to work fast to get Blonde to sign a release form, outfitted for a wetsuit and into the water before her wine wore off and her senses returned. (Not that Blonde told anyone she’d been drinking wine. Not that she had senses to “return”.)
Then it was time to sit down and watch a video in the dive shop. Blonde was told that she would be tested on the video. In spite of being blonde she can’t stand the idea of a poor test score so went into a mild additional panic (additional to the one about how she was doing a crazy thing).
The video had a helpful yet “take this seriously, Missy” tone to it. It seems that a major dumb thing people tend to do when they’re learning to scuba dive is hold their breath. There were numerous admonitions about remembering to breathe. This was starting to feel like “Learning to Scuba Dive for Dummies”. Phew – right class!
Once the narrator felt assured that he had beaten into newbie divers the importance of breathing he announced that divers had to learn 11 hand signals.
Blonde knows a wide variety of hand and finger signals but none of them, other than “OK” turned out to be recommended. (Note to self: Should have taken scuba diving in Sicily where could have totally aced the hand signals.)
Blonde got completely distracted by what, to her, were hand signals that seemed at least as appropriate for sex as for scuba diving. These are the 5 signals she recalls:
- I’m going down.
- Are you OK?
- I can’t breathe.
- Slow down.
- I need to go up.
Whoa! This was going to be a dive into the wonderful world of double entendre hand gestures!
Preparing for your first open water scuba dive
It was time to emerge from the video watching and meet up with the lucky man assigned to teach dirty-minded, post-menopausal blondes with poor impulse control to dive – Dan Koyamaibole.
Dan is a big diving bear of a guy who makes you feel immediately as if it’s entirely reasonable to turn over your life to him.
Off to the pool for the obscene hand gesture test and for Blonde to prove she could remember to breathe and swim with the heavy gear on. Blonde was very Dora The Underwater Explorer! Well, maybe not – she couldn’t sink.
(Mental self image: Jacqueline Bisset the nipple blasting, bikini-wearing underwater vixen of The Deep)
Dan did a recall of Blonde and strapped on some more weights until Blonde’s weight and overall look were closer to Chris Christie than Jacqueline Bisset. Reality bites.
Doing your first underwater scuba dive
Dan inquired if Blonde was ready to do her “open water dive”. She lied and said “yes”. Brunette mentioned the inauspicious skies but Johnny, Dan and Blonde all pooh poohed such sensible concerns. Johnny was coming along to produce photographic evidence of the dive, Brunette was there to make the “do not resuscitate” call and Dan was there to bring Blonde back alive.
Blonde was there because it was too embarrassing to back out now. Better to die needlessly than be thought a coward.
It takes both Dan and Johnny to hoist Blonde/Chris Christie onto the edge of the boat. Apparently divers imitate James Bond who pinches his nose and plops backwards off of boats.
Blonde plops, adjusts her mask, forgets to breathe, forgets all of the hand motions and starts asking what to do next. Luckily Dan has probably experienced this before so he behaves as if it’s all entirely reasonable and soon the descent begins.
Blonde is thinking “I’m so cool I can’t believe it! I have shooting pains in my right ear and they can’t possibly be good”. Making the hand gesture for my ear hurts (tugging at it and looking pained) gets Dan’s attention so he slows the descent (which had hardly been at a breakneck speed) and distracts Blonde from the pain (sort of).
Blonde finally relaxes, to the extent possible, and begins to enjoy the show. We are going down a long wall of coral with beautiful fish everywhere. This is a much more up close and personal look at things that can be achieved snorkeling. A giant tortoise swims lazily off to our left. A squid floats by.
Dan briefly let go of Blonde’s hand so Johnny could take a picture making it look as if Blonde was diving all on her own instead of holding a man’s hand in a death grip.
Dan signaled that it was time to begin to go slowly back up to the surface of the water. We had been down for half an hour and went to 40 feet below.
Post dive reflections…
The whole process really is kind of like sex.
You agree to it because you’ve had a little wine. You communicate what’s needed to ensure there aren’t any misunderstandings (or resulting litigation). At first you kind of fumble around figuring out the basics. Then, before you’re really ready, you go ahead because of imagined peer pressure.
Something hurts, maybe pops, but you continue. You can see how it’s more fun than being only on the surface and then it’s all over. And you can’t wait to brag to your friends about it. (You don’t tell them you couldn’t hear out of your right ear for 3 weeks afterwards.)
But, perhaps, like or unlike sex, you may decide it was too much work and that you aren’t likely to do it again.
FCC Disclosure: The Jean-Michele Cousteau Diving School gave me my lesson for free. Or maybe they paid me to leave – can’t really remember which one it was. Wait, free, that was it.