The Case of the Claustrophobic Spelunker

7 04 2012

One would think, reasonably speaking, that if your career goal was to become a marine biologist, that swimming or boating would not make you queasy.  It’s as oxymoronic as a rock climber terrified of heights, or a surgeon sickened by the sight of blood, or a quadriplegic soccer player – it doesn’t work!  And yet, today we witnessed this very situation with The Boy.

As we’d been begged many times over, we invited him to go out boating with us.  I was actually hopeful of the results, to be honest, because it was more in his element.  The other ventures we had taken him with us to – tea shoppes and restaurants and bookstores and festivals and football games – were so out of his element he was even more on edge than usual.  This was right up his alley, and in fact he had become quite chatty when we had to stop by a marine trading post on an excursion one day.

We picked him up at his house, that long drive to the middle of nowhere.  And then another hour and a half on to the edge of the islands to set to sea.  I was a bit concerned at the fact that he didn’t want sandwiches and such that I had brought, but rather the milk-based protein shakes from his mother.  But what have you.  He chatted at length with Glenn while Glenn readied the boat and the girls and I loaded the coolers and such.

The whole while, Glenn was smoking a cigarette.  I say this because it becomes important later.  See, we don’t smoke around the girls’ friends (or boyfriends), not in the car or house or so on.  We will walk away from them and have a smoke, but not around them.  But he joined Glenn to ready the boat as Glenn was smoking, his decision to walk towards the man who was smoking a cigarette – so be it.

Back to the boating story.

We put in at Pine Island and about thirty minutes later we anchored bay side at Cayo Costa.  There were a number of other boats out and the girls and I started wading out in the water.  The Boy avoided it at first until my daughter splashed him a bit and he finally loosened up and began to play.  They three chased and ran and had a seemingly good time.

After an hour or so, we decided to boat around to the Gulf side.  We ate on the boat while Glenn steered around the island and I noticed after he finished his shake that The Boy looked rather wan.  I asked if he was okay and he said he was and I asked him to please drink some water.  No, he refused.  The boat jumped on the waves and he looked even worse.  Are you okay? I kept asking and he said he was.  I’m a mother, I can tell when someone looks ill!  But no, I must be seeing things because he is perfectly fine.  I sat up and tried to ignore the sickly kid in the cabin, but he was in my charge!  And with each jump of the boat, he looked as though he would nearly vomit.

We stopped the boat and Glenn jumped overboard to pull the boat to shore by the rope – not an easy feat.  After we came to shore, we all got off the boat – except The Boy.  No, he wanted to sit on the boat a bit longer.  I’d had enough with his stubborn denial and so I continued back to the beach and sat on the shore with Glenn and the girls.  We talked  quietly a bit, watching the boat and my daughter made the comment that he didn’t like the water.

Didn’t like the water?  How?  Doesn’t he want to be a marine biologist?  Does he not realize he’ll have to be in the water to do marine biology?  That water is the marine part of the job marine biology?

About that moment a large wave rocked the boat and out of the cabin The Boy came flying and over the edge of the boat, what remained of that protein shake came flying.


And I have to wade through that vomit to return to the boat?

Even more lovely.

We packed up in unison, not saying a word.  And as we boarded the boat, he apologized.  No worries, said I, trying to give him a supportive smile.  Perhaps you’re coming down with something, I suggested, rather than call him out for the newfound knowledge of his water issue.

No, he corrected me, it wasn’t that.  It was the smoke from my cigarette on the wind that he caught a whiff of that made him hurl.

My cigarettes were tucked in a cubby, they’d never made it to shore.  Neither had Glenn’s.  No one was smoking.  You hurled because you are a pansy assed sap.  These are the words I should have said.  But instead, I turned around in my chair and glared.  I found my phone and somehow had signal out in the middle of the water and I phoned his mother to meet us and fetch him.  I smiled as Glenn hit every imaginable wave and I watched as The Boy tried to keep the few contents he still had in him, in him.

Needless to say, I do believe I am done trying.  God forbid he someday become my son-in-law.




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