August 26, 2004

The Murky Depths

I don't tend to think of myself as a wuss. Generally, I'm a pretty tough guy who isn't afraid of much, except for maybe Michael Jackson and, to some extent, the Arby's oven mitt.

I have no problem with dark alleys, or abandoned houses, or snakes, or Rosie O'Donnell. All of those things don't scare me in the least. By and large, you'd be hard pressed to terrify me when it comes to anything land-based, or even air-based.

But, here's a little secret about myself: lakes and oceans freak me out.

They don't freak me out to the point that I won't go near them or anything, but they most assuredly freak me out. I'm not sure why, exactly. There's something about knowing that strange creatures are looking up at my dangling feet that just creeps me right out. So long as my feet are on a sandy or even rocky bottom, I'm fine, but the moment the water level is such that I have to tread water, I start getting a little fidgety.

If, for example, I topple off some water skis in the middle of a lake, I feel uncomfortable almost immediately, and my comfort level is directly related to the distance the boat may be from me. I mean, if I'm going to have my toes chomped off by a world record sized Northern Pike, I'd like to have witnesses and medical assistance nearby rather than joyriding a half mile away.

I'm a little more comfortable in the ocean, primarily because of the improved overall visibility. Lakes are usually dirty and dark, whereas the ocean has a more clean and clear look about it, even though it's pretty gross, too.

However, deep ocean water does spook me. One year, I was snorkeling in the ocean off Maui, in relatively shallow water. I swam over a rise of rocks, and suddenly I was looking down at a drop off of 40 or 50 feet. It scared the living shit out of me. I had a minor freak out right then and there, complete with frantic flailing of the arms and everything.

That same trip, I was snorkeling off a different beach, and I dived down about 12 feet to inspect some coral. Suddenly a shadow drifted overhead, and I looked up to see a gigantic fucking stingray lazily floating up above. Now, I knew stingrays were basically harmless, but the sight of that huge beast hanging over the spot I intended to surface at just terrified me to hell. Despite the fact my lungs were screaming, I forced myself to swim about 30 feet towards shore before going to the surface to breathe.

I still think of that stingray and shudder. Scary fucking thing.

Posted by Ryan at August 26, 2004 11:56 AM

I also am freaked out by lakes and oceans. My reason is that I can't swim. Really, I sink like a damn rock and WILL drown in any body of water more than 4'10" deep. I hate water.

Posted by: Rick at August 26, 2004 01:00 PM

Rick, please tell me you're taller than 4'10". Otherwise, I shall forever refer to you as Mini Me.

Posted by: Ryan at August 26, 2004 01:02 PM

No, I'm 5'10". I just need that foot of space above the water so I can continue to breath air instead of water.

Posted by: Rick at August 26, 2004 03:07 PM

Me too. I have been a swimmer all my life and spent a lot of time on Cape Cod and swimming in various lakes and quarries. I never got freaked out when I was little, but now I start thinking about unseen ocean (or lake) creatures ( eg: alligator-freakin-gar ) and I just can't relax. Brushing against submerged vegetation doesn't help.

Posted by: Tim at August 27, 2004 09:32 AM
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